Join the Challenge:
Enjoy a Thinner Waistline and a Fatter Wallet
By Mike Jackson
Our Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with Lee Memorial Health System for the 2013 Health and Fitness Challenge. I’ve signed up, and I hope you will, too. I’m confident I’ll get my money’s worth, because being healthy has cut my medical expenses.
Ben Franklin said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” My grandmother said, “you are what you eat.” My financial advisor says “You get what you measure.” Doctors say that if we lose weight, we can be healthier.
I have found all of this to be true. By eating differently and losing weight, I am healthier. Hopefully I’ll live longer. All my numbers point in that direction. What surprised me is that I’m also saving money!
Until a year ago, like two-thirds of Americans, I was overweight. In fact, I was an overachiever. I was obese, along with the upper third of Americans. My Body Mass Index (BMI) was 33.
My doctors told me that being overweight increased my risk for high blood pressure, stroke, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, sleep apnea and gallstones. They were right – my numbers got bigger, and so did my medical expenses, for drugs and lab tests and doctor visits. And my insurance company was paying even more!
Between us, we were spending about the national average for extra health care because of obesity. In a 2010 study, George Washington University said the annual extra expense was $2,646 for men and $4,879 for women.
I decided to lose weight because I could see that taking pills didn’t go anywhere positive. I changed my diet radically: hardly any meat, lots of green veggies, healthy fats, healthy carbs; and “just enough” calories every day. I continued my workout regime and moderate exercise.
My weight dropped from 228 to 168; my BMI from 33 to 24; my waist from 43 to 34; and my blood pressure from high to normal. I was doing pretty well, but chose to participate in last year’s Fitness challenge. At the beginning, my “body age” (one of the assessment tools) was seven years less than my actual age. I made the changes recommended, and three months later my body age was even younger; a total of 11 years younger. The Challenge paid off!
This is all pretty personal, but I share because I hope to motivate others to sign up for the Challenge and do what is recommended. If you take it to heart, you’ll learn new healthy habits that can provide a lifetime of health and economic benefits for you and those you love.