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What value do you place on your health?

If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.

Almost everything in our life has a value attached to it, from our homes to our work. Then there are the costs – of running a household, or paying for the kids’ hockey ambitions and their educations, or planning that family vacation.

But without your health, nothing else matters. In fact, one of our patients is a business writer who recently spoke with a seasoned executive who had learned the hard way where his priorities in life should be, after years globetrotting for one big company after another.

This executive said we each have three priorities in life. In order of importance, they are your health, your family, and then, lastly, your work.

It may be a cliché, but only because it is an undeniable truth – if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.

Take the Ottawa Senators’ Brian Murray

Last year, he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, which had spread to his liver and lungs. Murray had never had a colonoscopy to test for the cancer because there was no history of cancer in his immediate family. He may have been living with the disease for an entire decade before the symptoms finally became evident. His advice to other men? Swallow your pride and get tested, as all men are advised to do.

It’s all about taking the steps to ensure you are capable of living and enjoying life to the fullest with family and friends. Who doesn’t want that?

But for many of us, this quality of life can slip away in such small degrees we don’t even notice day by day, or even week by week.

Little things add up

It’s the little things that add up to something big over time. Maybe your weight has started to creep up, or playing an impromptu game of street hockey with the kids leaves you gasping. Or that neck pain and those headaches are becoming more of an annoyance.

But ignoring these sorts of things won’t make them go away. In fact, if you keep following the same routine, they will only worsen and erode your quality of life. This can impact your mood, energy levels, productivity, and ability to enjoy life in general.

Neglecting your health long enough can obviously raise your risk of premature death, from cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or some other lifestyle-related disease.

It all comes down to what value you put on your life, and what you are willing to do to improve or regain your quality of life.

But change is never easy. We don’t claim it is. It can seem too overwhelming to even start. But making the decision to live a healthier life is the most important step. After that, it’s just a matter of tapping into the people and resources that can help and keep you on track.

Making a personal choice

Take our patient who is a business writer. Two and half years ago, he was overweight and out of shape, on entry-level blood pressure medication, and counting the days until he would also need cholesterol medication.
Then he started working out at a local personal training gym that helped him get in shape and reform his nutrition habits. Today, at 45, he is 30 pounds lighter, free of the need for any medication, and stronger than he has ever been.

“I feel better, I look better,” he said. “I have more energy. My mind is clearer. I have a lot more creative focus to be productive through the day. My grandfather died at 48 of a heart attack. My father had double bypass surgery at 60. I’m confident the changes I’ve made in my life mean I’ve escaped that pattern.”

So ask yourself: What value do you give to your quality of life? What are you willing to invest for a healthier future?

Don’t wait until it’s too late for a change of habit to make a difference.

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