The Health Crystal Ball
/ Author: James Oostenbrink
/ Categories: Guide magazine /
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The Health Crystal Ball

We all understand the importance of financial investing for retirement. But do we understand just how important it is to invest in our health?

By Jim Oostenbrink

Note: Always consult your physician before beginning any health, nutrition, or fitness program.

WHEN IT COMES TO retirement planning, it is indeed important to be financially prepared for the day you announce your retirement. But for those of us who are in our 50s and 60s, what about our physical health preparation? You have worked hard and saved enough, but have you been investing in your health along the way? 

Years ago, I presented a wellness seminar at a stewards conference and challenged the participants to think about this: In our youth, we spend our health getting wealth, and as we get older, we spend our wealth getting health.

Is this true of you? For those of you who may have neglected your health for many years (like me), it is not too late, but it will take planning, time, effort, and even some sacrifice to change course—and yes, it will be worth it! 

You cannot put a price on your health. A prominent fitness trainer here in Kelowna, BC, described health as a crystal ball that is fragile and must be cared for. If you drop this ball, the rest doesn’t matter much.

Now that I hope I have convinced you that health matters, let’s go on a health journey together.

MY JOURNEY STARTED IN SPRING 2022 when I was hitting a real low point. I had a few knee injuries and put on a lot of excess poundage that I blamed on the COVID factor. Everything was going to pot—literally.

Minimal exercise, bad eating habits, and little motivation to change. Does this sound familiar? 

And then I remembered the health crystal ball. I realized I did not really value my health. I just took it for granted until I did not feel great, had low energy, and was pretty sedentary. 

From a background of extensive sports involvement, this was a new low for me. But sometimes you need to hit that low to motivate yourself to make the change.

I was inspired in talking to members at various remote work sites who have become more health-conscious. They actually request fruit and vegetable trays at meetings now instead of donuts. They said they were “tired of getting camp gut.”

I also realized one very simple concept that sticks with me every day: Nothing changes when nothing changes.

STARTING A NEW HEALTH JOURNEY has got to be one of the most challenging things to do, especially when you are an old guy like me. It takes a lot of preparation, education, and commitment.

Before you begin on this new health journey, you need to be mentally ready. You need to know why you are doing this, instead of just doing it. It has to be worth the sacrifice and the hard work. You need to really get a handle on your true motivation, because it is the motivation that will keep you going. 

It is important to understand what you want to accomplish. If you set specific, measurable goals, you will be far more likely to achieve them. Above all, your goals need to be realistic.

To achieve your goals, you need to set deadlines for them, whether daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semiannually, or even yearly. Your goals need to be achievable and include controllable factors.

To help keep you on track, record what is happening in your daily life. I purchased a yearly planner that included daily and monthly entries. This was the most important step for me as I recorded literally everything that I ate every single day—including the Halloween candy, the chips, the binge eating. 

I also recorded my weight every day so I could see the causal effect mindless eating was having on my weight. My exercise sessions (and missed sessions) were recorded as well.

YOU ALSO NEED TO FIGURE OUT a plan of attack. How are you going to accomplish your goals? 

For this, I needed to educate myself on the science of nutrition and physiology. Through this process, I came to appreciate that food is nutritional fuel for the body, and our bodies are created for exercise and movement. 

I had read lots of books and then a friend suggested I read The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss by Dr. Jason Fung. This book was not a traditional diet book. It actually began with one amusing statement: “All diets work and all diets fail.” 

This resonated with me as I have never believed in restrictive diets. Eventually, they will fail. The book highlighted the importance of fasting. Since I had only fasted once in my life, I was not too keen on this approach, but hey, I figured it was worth a shot. 

Once I began to study the health benefits of intermittent fasting, I was hooked. After seven months and a regular exercise regime,

I became a convert to this system. 

My wife joined me a few months ago, and now she is hooked and encouraged as well. It helps that we are in this together and support each other each day.

OUR JOURNEY IS NOT OVER by any means. It is a journey we hope to continue for many years. Every day, we need to remind ourselves why we started this journey in the first place. 

Everybody is going to approach their health in their own unique way. Within the Kelowna Member Centre, we have someone who likes yoga, hiking, and very healthy eating; another colleague who pumps a lot of iron; and another colleague who has adjusted their eating and exercise habits and goes for a polar dip twice a week in cold months.

Whatever works for you, you just need to begin. Your health is personal to you. Your health journey is up to you.

If you have not been investing in your health, it’s time to get serious. It can be very daunting to even think about making changes to your normal regime, but think about the consequences of not making a change.

When going for a long vacation, you read, research, and plan. Why not do this for your health? Better health means a better life, both now in your working years and in your retirement years.

In preparing for retirement, you know that you can’t just spend your money. You need to invest it. Your health is just as important. Don’t just spend your time. Invest it in your health. If you don’t have time for your health, then your health will not have time for you.  

6 Steps to Developing a Health Regime 

1.    List your goals and why you want to achieve them. 
2.    Develop short term and long term plans for achieving those goals. Invest some time in planning your journey.
3.    Read and learn about basic nutrition. Check out HumanaCare’s website for diet and nutrition information or call them for advice (HumanaCare is CLAC’s EFAP provider).
4.    Understand why you eat. Is it emotional stress eating?
5.    Develop a daily program that includes strength, cardio, and flexibility exercises.
6.    If doing these steps on your own is too daunting for you, invest in getting professional help such as a fitness trainer, nutrition coach, or a therapist.

5 Simple Ingredients for Good Health 

Keep practicing the following five habits every week on your ongoing health journey. Investing in your health now will yield amazing future health dividends. 
1.    Get enough rest—sleep is the foundation of good health.
2.    Perform daily exercises and regular movement.
3.    Add nutrition-rich fuel for your body.
4.    Eliminate (or at least limit) junk food and unhealthy food.
5.    Give up bad habits (e.g., smoking, excessive drinking).

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