“Just Keep Swimming”… A line made famous by Dori on Finding Nemo. We can all relate with the need to just keep going. Sometimes I think we’ve taken this too far, living for the short-term rather than the long-term.

You know… you’ve had a long day and need to get things done so you stay up too late. Then, after only 6 hours sleep, you’re feeling sluggish in the morning. Drink Starbucks to wake up and have energy for work. Lunch time comes, and you didn’t plan ahead so you grab some fast food. To make it worse, you’ve been running all day so you don’t drink any water. Afternoon comes and your blood sugar is dropping from lunch so you eat something sweet and drink another cup of coffee to keep going. Get home from work and have a headache so pop some Tylenol. Have a beer to reward yourself for surviving the rough day. You plan to do better tomorrow or next week, but life never seems to slow down. Your daily diet of processed food results in IBS issues so you begin to take a prescription med for that. Prescription causes side effect X so now you have symptom Z. On and on and on… you get the point.

What if things were different? What if it went something like this: You plan ahead. Go to bed early enough to get a good night’s rest. Pack your healthy lunch for work. Eat breakfast. No headache. No blood sugar drop. Feel naturally awake. Drink water. No rough day, no need for beer. No IBS, no meds, etc.

I know what you’re thinking. This all sounds very nice in an ideal world, but my life just doesn’t work that way. I get it! All I ask is that you take some time to think about the long-term more than the short-term. In this world of convenience and quick fixes, we’ve become too accustomed to treating the symptoms. We’d have a lot less symptoms if we thought ahead about prevention.

Have a headache, we take some meds. Having physical symptoms, we take some meds. Ate too much sugar, we take extra insulin. Have a hangover, take some meds. Pizza gives us heartburn, eat some Tums. Feeling sleepy, get some caffeine. It’s so easy to rely on the quick fixes.

I like to make you think. So, think about this: Would you live your life differently if there were no Tylenol, no caffeine, no alcohol, no extra insulin, no fast food, no drive throughs, no concession stands, and no Tums? If your crutches were suddenly non-existent, how would you have to change?

If you remember nothing else, remember this: you are not invincible! Your body is an amazing creation, BUT it is mortal. If you just keep swimming and treating the symptoms, it will catch up with you one way or the other. Symptom upon symptom upon symptom. Similar to how one lie leads to more lies.

Stop the vicious cycle! Whenever possible, live your life as if you are UNABLE to treat the symptoms. Think deeper. Plan more. What are you doing to your body when you deprive it of adequate sleep? Then, when you start getting warning signals from your body that it’s in need of sleep, you fill it with a Starbucks drink full of caffeine and sugar. Now what have you done to your body? You may “feel” better… like the problem is gone. But, actually, you’ve only damaged your body further.

Like a battered woman who takes abuse after abuse for years and then one day declares she’s had enough and finally leaves, your body will do the same. The clock is ticking. How much abuse will your body tolerate? Are you willing to push it to the limit?

Slow it down. Reorganize your life so that you have time to plan for health and focus on the things which are truly important. If you don’t take care of you, you’re no good to anyone. Just keep swimming but do it with a plan in mind. Swim with purpose.

Leave me a comment below and let me know the crutches you rely on most. What are the challenges in living an intentionally healthy life?

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Photo Credit: shanewarne_60000 via Compfight cc