Why Not Play Offense With Our Health?

When I was playing sports in school, very few of my teammates preferred defense. They’d rather hit the ball than field it. They’d rather shoot the jump shot than jump against it. People say that defense can win games, but it never advances the scoreboard.

Why then do we mostly resort to defense when it comes to our health?

This month there will be a lot of talk about raising money for researching a cure for breast cancer. Everyday there are advertisements for this pill or that to treat or cure this disease or that. We raise money for people to fight diseases but never to prevent them.

Please, don’t misunderstand my message. I am behind anything having to do with curing or fighting cancer. Cancer killed my parents. Cancer is currently plaguing the life of more than a few people I care about. Cancer sucks and we should do whatever we can to fund those who are trying to find cures and treatments. I’m not completely dismissing pharmaceuticals. There are times where pills are necessary and I’m all for them if they work toward your overall health.

 But shouldn’t we play a role in working toward our health too? And not just with cancer. What about all the other health problems that dominate this country today?  Shouldn’t we be responsible for our own wellness rather than waiting around for researchers or pharmaceuticals to take care of us? Shouldn’t we do everything we can to try to avoid getting sick in the first place?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not under the illusion that if I eat enough spinach I’ll never get cancer or any other disease. I know some outcomes may be beyond my control. But there are things we can do for ourselves to optimize our health and they don’t come in pill form.

When we found out that cigarettes were directly linked to cancer, most of us quit. Whey then are we still stuffing ourselves full of bad food and sitting on the couch watching crap t.v. when we know that nutrition and exercise are directly linked to hearth health and immune strength, among other things? Why can’t we give up the coffee that is most likely the cause of our GI issues or headaches or anxiety? Why do we need governments to pass taxes before we think twice about drinking sugar-filled liquid, dyed with chemicals? Why doesn’t it occur to us to check out our diets before we run to the doctor for a little purple pill?  Why don’t we ask more questions? Why don’t we learn more about what is good for us?  Why don’t we treat ourselves better when we know what is right and what is wrong?

I’m including myself in this we because I have been guilty of nearly all of it. I should work out more. I should eat less refined sugars and figure out once and for all if it’s dairy or gluten that is making me feel like crap. I should give up the damn coffee already. I know what’s right and I’ve now put myself in a position to be reminded every day.

I’m proud to say I’m worlds ahead of where I was a year ago and refining myself every single day. I’m hoping my example means my kids grow up without having to undo all the bad habits that I did in order to be healthy. I want to raise kids who play offense with their health. I want to raise proactively well humans instead of reactive and possibly sick ones.

There is most certainly a place for cures and treatments, but they shouldn’t be our first line defense. Our first line should really be a good offense. We are all strong enough for that.

This post originally appeared on Cristie’s Parenting Blog: The Right Hand Mom.

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