August 2011 - The Buck Stops Here

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Not long ago, I was listening to a conversation on the radio between a talk show host and a female caller.  The woman was complaining that her obesity was the government's fault. Her logic was that she was fat because the government was not doing its job in preventing junk food to be sold in grocery stores.  Consequently, every day, she would go to the store and purchase several candy bars, bags of chips, and a few soft drinks-all of which she would consume in a single day.  Her premise was that if the government would ban this type of food from being sold, then she couldn't purchase it and therefore, would not be fat.  Now obviously, this is warped logic-because no one was forcing her to make those purchases.  Moreover, she could have just as easily purchased healthier foods.  She actually got into an argument with the talk show host and was considering "suing" the government.

Although I found the entire discussion somewhat humorous, the program got me thinking about how willing we are to pass the buck when it comes to our health. I'll bet you know people who leave it up to their spouse to make their doctor appointments; don't take their medicine because no one reminded them; didn't get their annual screening because their doctor didn't call to remind them; didn't bother to lose weight because no one suggested they go on a diet-even though their clothes were bursting at the seams.  Their failure to do the right thing is always due to something or someone else.

Well, here's a news flash. If you're an adult, YOUR health is YOUR responsibility.  It's not up to your parents, your siblings, your best friend, your spouse, the government, or even your doctor.  It's up to YOU.   It's a big job, but somebody's gotta do it-and that somebody is YOU!

Think of your body as a car-with equipment and systems that require constant monitoring and regular maintenance.  You're the caretaker for the car. Your job is to ensure that the equipment and systems are all functioning optimally.  This means you're constantly monitoring your weight, your blood pressure, your skin, your teeth-all of the things that indicate your health is in order.  As caretaker, you constantly get your systems checked-your eyes, your blood sugar, your cancer screenings.  You're vigilant about warning signs (i.e. pain, blood in urine/stool, headaches) and you move quickly to find out what's causing them.  You get things repaired when they're broken and you maintain a good group of repairmen (healthcare providers) so you can get things taken care of in a timely manner.  It also means that you don't wait for the repairmen's' call to remind you that you need regular maintenance or to ask you if there's a problem-rather, you keep track of everything and you call on your repairmen on a regular basis.

It's a sad fact that most people take better care of their cars than they do their bodies.  They depend on their car to get them where they need to go, so they make sure it's in good running order.   But your body is the vehicle that you use to move through this world and it deserves the best care possible.  So when it comes to your health-don't pass the buck.  Instead, your mantra should be, "when it comes to MY health, the buck stops here!"

With you on Your Journey to Wellness

Dr. Mary S. Harris

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