The Prevention Protocol

I am utterly sick of the myth that living a “healthy lifestyle” will prevent illness.

  • Granted, eating a balanced diet of nutritious food is better than grazing on ice cream and bon-bons all day.
  • Getting regular exercise has distinct health benefits; moving as little as possible has a detrimental impact on people’s health.
  • Is there anyone who isn’t aware of the health ramifications of smoking?
  • Excessive alcohol consumption is another no-no.

The story goes that if you exercise, eat right, refrain from smoking, and drink moderately, you’ll be healthy.  That’s a lie.

Those claims need modifiers.  Living a healthy lifestyle can lessen one’s chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and some of the other chronic diseases, but there are no guarantees.

The prevention protocol only goes so far.  Ancestry is also a factor.  Luck plays a significant part, too.

Autoimmune diseases really don’t care how you’ve lived your life.  If you eat right, refrain from smoking/drinking, and exercise, you can still have crummy genes and lousy luck.

When I was a kid, my mom was careful about planning nutritious meals.  My dad worked too hard and grabbed fast-food for his meals, and his waistline showed it.  My mom was determined that her children not suffer the same fate.  She planned menus and we kids learned how to do it, too.  We learned how to cook so we’d always be able to eat healthily.  I still try to plan good meals.

Exercise?  I was an active kid.  Everyone ran around outside and played.  When I was old enough, I played softball and soccer in the youth leagues, and took swimming and gymnastics lessons.  This was back when schools still had recess and PE classes.  In junior high I continued to play soccer during the summer, then during the school year I played volleyball, basketball, and ran track.  And still we had PE classes.  Junior high PE was interesting; due to a scheduling mix-up, I and one other girl were assigned to the boy’s class.  While the rest of the girls were in the gym doing jumping-jacks, we were outside in the rain playing real sports.  After PE, when most people went to math or history, I got to change into dry workout clothes for my gymnastics class.  There was no question that I got plenty of exercise.  In high school, I had to drop volleyball since it was the same time as soccer, but that doesn’t mean I exercised less.  The basketball coach made a point of tracking me down and asking me to turn out for the team.  I continued to run track for the first two years of hs.  My junior year I started dating a body-builder, so we’d go to the local gym and I learned to work out with weights.  In college, I was glad for that time in the gym.  It gave me a chance to continue exercising even when my organized sports dropped to just summer adult-league soccer.  I started swimming more.

Once in the workforce, I wasn’t nearly as active, but managed to make it to the gym four or five times a week (and I was dirt-poor, so had to walk everywhere).  Exercising came to a grinding halt when I was put on bed-rest with my first pregnancy, and I never quite resumed the same intensity.  I maintain, however, that if gardening and other yard work can be considered exercise, then chasing toddlers definitely counts.

It drives me crazy when people act as if having a chronic disease is my fault.  I exercised.  I ate well.  I didn’t smoke.  Yet here I am.

Thank you for reading.
I’m expecting house guests, and will be off-line all weekend.


12 thoughts on “The Prevention Protocol

  1. Three cheers for this message! I was a health nut/exercise buff when I was diagnosed. Alcohol was limited to maybe a couple drinks a month and I wasn’t smoking. Now I’m a total health freak. Oh, and I’m still sick. I still need to forgive my mother-in-law for always telling me that if I changed my diet and did yoga I would be healed. Grrrr! I have no doubt in my mind that diet plays a huge role in how we feel. I’m currently on a crazy elimination diet in an attempt to figure out specific aggravators. But a total cure? I don’t buy it. Hope you have a great visit with your guests.

  2. Wonderful post Warm Socks! I lived a healthy active life style too and was very fit. Although for part of my young adult life I was a recreational smoker, like someone who drinks socially. I quit that and 11 yrs later was diagnosed with RA. One could look at that and say “oh that’s why, it’s your fault.”
    I’m not convinced. I went through an extremely stressful series of events that I believe triggered RA. We can compare and compare all we want and nothing really adds up perfectly, be it smoking, fitness or whatever. UNLUCKY is what it is! Meanwhile I’m waiting for science to find the real missing link.

  3. I love this. All the time people say that I am the healthiest unhealthy person they know. What I always say is that if this is what is happening when I am living a healthy lifestyle, imagine how bad it would be if I was not! So much is out of our control and it is annoying when people suggest that illness is anyones fault. Sometimes it is, but many times it has nothing to do with anything the person did or didn’t do.

  4. Thank you for posting this – I loved your comment about autoimmune drugs not caring about how you lived your life. I also eat healthfully 90% of the time, and have tried whole-food eating plans, elimination plans and have felt relatively the same. I exercise as much as a I can, I eat my veggies and legumes and hope for the best.

  5. RA doesn’t care how healthy you are. If you have it, you have it. You’re right. And of course, making the effort to live a more active, healthy lifestyle can help to mitigate some of the pain and disability of the disease, but it won’t cure it.

    I’ve always been frustrated when I was told I needed to walk more, or try this or that “remedy.” I walk and do strengthening/stretching exercises. I eat with care most of the time. I drink a glass of wine maybe once a month. I’ve worked hard to bring my weight down and I’ve been successful. I’m still working on it. I take RA medications every morning and night.

    But I still have RA, and pain, and occasional disability. That’s just how it is.

    • I see the problem Wren, you need to drink more wine, lol.jk
      I have a glass almost every night.
      btw, love your blog! You are an awesome writer and I appreciate your love of nature.

  6. Great post! You’ve captured exactly what I want to say to the people who ask me about my diet or how much exercise I’m getting.

    Then there are those who try to blame my parents, since I was so young when I got sick. (One woman thought I must have developed RA because my Mom gave me dairy.)

    In my eyes, kids with RA and other diseases are just further proof that sometimes – in fact, much of the time – luck has a lot more to do with it than “lifestyle.”

  7. * Granted, eating a balanced diet of nutritious food is better than grazing on ice cream and bon-bons all day.

    Yeah, but grazing on ice cream and bon-bons all day definitely has it’s moments!


  8. Pingback: Agree Wholeheartedly « Rebecca's Blog

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