Are you playing the lottery with your health?

If I may, let me ask you a quick question: If you had a 50% chance of winning the lottery, would you buy a ticket?

Most everyone I know would answer with an emphatic 'Yes!!' At least 10 tickets. Excited is an understatement. You couldn't buy the tickets fast enough. 

Now I'm going to switch gears here a bit. But do you know what the odds are of getting cancer in America? It's 50%. One out of every two men in America will get cancer in their lifetime. A little better for women, but not by much. Not quite one in three. 

Reality check. 

So do we tend to perceive the odds of getting cancer differently than the odds of winning the lottery even though they were both at 50 percent?  

Makes you think.   

Maybe we didn't know. Or we know it, but don't know what to do about it. Or, maybe we just simply aren't thinking about it. Who knows. I'll leave the psychology to others. However, it is the fact. 

Of course, there will never be a 50% chance of winning the lottery. But if there were, we'd be pretty darn certain we would win the thing.(*scroll down to the bottom of the page for the real lottery odds)

Health statistics are a peek into the future

Health statistics can give us a little insight into where we potentially could be headed if we allow them to. The problem is that we tend to depersonalize the statistics and think that they simply don’t apply to us.

Some people say they don’t accurately reflect reality. But if statistics don’t matter, why do we even bother keeping them? The fact is, they do matter.

Here's a few more:

  • One in three women, and one in four men in America dies of heart disease.
  • Every 60 seconds, someone in the U.S. dies from a heart disease related event and someone has a heart attack in the United States every 34 seconds. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America.
  • 1600 people die of cancer EVERY DAY. Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death.
  • According to Forbes, the annual health care costs in the U.S. are in the neighborhood of 3.5 to 4 trillion dollars as of 2012. That’s $22,030 for every family of four in 2013, up from $9,235 in 2002.

Hopefully you allow the above health statistics to serve you and perhaps motivate you to move away from the diet and lifestyle factors in your own life that may well contribute to them. 

Who knows exactly what the future holds for each of us.There are some things we can control and many we cannot.

But one thing we have at least some say in is our health. And unlike the lottery, it is not chance, but choice.

We can start to look at our diet and lifestyle and whether it is supporting our long term health or not. It's pretty easy to evaluate.

If you are eating the standard American diet, and living the standard American lifestyle, it isn't. And then, once you see that it isn't, you begin to make a few changes.

Start by learning what to do. Then make a few small changes, and let them settle in. Then make a few more. Over time, all those small changes add up to a healthier life.

We can start getting a little exercise. Not a lot, just something to start. A ten minute walk every other day, or whatever you can. Build the habit, then move on from there.

Small steps can equal big change over time. And every journey starts with one foot in front of the other. Even the great wall of China was one brick at a time.  

How do you see your health?

Some people tend to overestimate the state of their health. In general, we seem to think we are pretty healthy. Not great, maybe, but 'pretty good.'

We also tend to underestimate the effects on our health by what we do on a daily basis. I think part of that is because for most people, health usually declines so slowly that we don't see it or feel it that much day to day. 

There's not too much immediate feedback from eating that greasy fast food burger except a little indigestion and maybe sluggish elimination. 

But then over time, maybe a little creak here or there shows up. Not too much, so we don't really think much is happening. We feel, well, pretty normal. We're just 'getting older.' 

But something surely is happening. You just don't see it. The creak is the first sign. Maybe it gets a little harder to get out of bed in the morning.

Or maybe you start getting sick a bit more. Or not being able to contribute at work or at home in the way you might want to. Maybe a tad bit of brain fog. Or out of breath after a short flight of stairs. The signs are there.

Then the only question that remains becomes what do you plan to do about it? And if you answered nothing, or not today, it's probably time to rethink your bucket list.

* The actuall odds of winning the PowerBall lottery in the United States are 1 in 292 million. And we still think we could win...

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