Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. —Benjamin Franklin
That quote inspired Tim Ferriss to write three books: The 4-Hour Body (healthy), The 4-Hour Workweek (wealthy), and The 4-Hour Chef (wise). Somehow the 4-Hour Chef was supposed to be about learning. All I learned from that book is that cooking is too complicated.
The word wealthy means having wealth, which is defined as an abundance of valuable material possessions or resources. Most people boil this down to having lots of money.
The word healthy is defined as being free from disease and enjoying good health. By the way, if someone has good health but he or she doesn’t enjoy it, is that person considered healthy?
I have reached middle age having lived an admittedly unhealthy life by most standards. I was a picky eater as a kid, and I avoided most “healthy” foods even if they were right in front of me. I have a distinct memory of the taste of my very first chicken McNugget, which began a relationship with fast food that has been with me ever since.
Starting in grade school, I have been in various stages of being overweight, obese, or morbidly obese. I have never broken a bone, and indeed have no athletic bone (or muscle) in my body. I dreaded PE class, especially the days when we played team sports and it was “shirts vs skins.” I did everything in my power to be on the shirts team, lest everyone (including all the girls in my class) see my rotund upper body in all its shame.
When we had physical fitness tests, I failed them all. I couldn’t pull myself up the rope. I couldn’t do even one pull-up. When they used the calipers to measure my body fat percentage, the number for just my arm was higher than the recommended total for arm and leg. Actually, I did pass one test with flying colors. Flexibility. How flexible am I?
The unhealthy lifestyle consisting of poor diet and minimal physical activity eventually catches up with you. It caught up with me when I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in September of 2018. Spoiler alert: In March of 2020, I declared that I have reversed Type 2 diabetes. If you’d like to hear more of that story, I chronicled my journey with three articles on Medium:
The journey has only just begun. I know that if I go back to my previous habits, diabetes will return.
Here’s the thing.
There are people who look at a big salad full of fruits and veggies and say, “Yum.”
There are people who love going to the gym and working out or running or doing all kinds of physical activity.
There are people who are perfectly fine eating turkey bacon or going full-blown vegan.
Definitely not me.
The health and wellness industry today promotes the ideal picture of health, achieved only through strict dieting or exercise protocols. That’s just not going to work for me, and I bet it doesn’t work for a lot of people.
Let’s face it. We want to be healthy, but are we willing to put in the time, effort, and money that it takes to get to optimum health? And keep it up for the long term?
Doing all the right things each and every day for optimum health sucks! I wish I loved eating all the so-called healthy foods and working out all the time. I wish that healthy behaviors came naturally to me so they don’t feel like work. I have changed many behaviors, and I am willing to change even more, but there’s only so far I’m willing to go.
I want to be healthy, but I still want to enjoy life. I propose a new word for this outlook.
What does it mean to be wellthy?
I define wellthy as protecting the asset of health by focusing on good habits to make healthy choices more likely, while still allowing for the occasional splurge. Being wellthy is having your cake and eating it too, just not all the time. Being wellthy means not comparing yourself to others; you compare yourself to the person you were yesterday. Being wellthy means being kind to yourself and finding a balance between a healthy life and a life worth living.
I want to focus on my health and “do the right thing” most days, but I know I’m going to dog it sometimes. I don’t want a life relegated to cauliflower crust pizza. I want the real deal, just not as often as I used to eat it. On occasion as a treat, I want to go to Dairy Queen and get a Heath Blizzard with extra Heath bar. I have to order extra Heath just to get the amount of Heath I should have had to start with (meaning that every spoonful should have at least one chunk of Heath). If we ever get to have concerts again, I want to go see some live music and stay out late even though my sleep will be disrupted. I want to have a weekend where I veg out and burn as few calories as possible. Maybe this outlook will shave off a couple of years in the end. But as Abraham Lincoln said:
And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years.
When I’m in public and see elderly folks, I am polite and kind to them. One day I’ll be old (I hope), and hopefully, people will be kind to me.
I know where my well-worn habits will take me if I’m not careful. Left to my own devices, I have a tendency to pursue an unhealthy path. The problem with a “cheat” meal is that it leads to a cheat day, then a cheat weekend, and so on and before you know it, Jabba the Hutt is back (minus Princess Leia and that little rat thing). I need constant reminders to make better decisions. I have a phrase I use to help remind me.
Be kind to the old man.
It’s easy to make decisions that affect me in the moment. I want instant gratification like everyone else. It’s much harder thinking about how decisions I make today will affect me decades from now. I need a consistent reminder that my choices today will have consequences.
This newsletter is my way of staying committed to improving my health and wellbeing so that I can be kind to the old man. The old man who is healthy and vibrant and lived life with no regrets.
I will share what I am learning about the topics that most influence our health and wellbeing in a non-judgemental way.
Sleep (start here)
Food as fuel (with some occasional bad gas that will make you backfire)
Physical activity for the confessed couch potatoes
Brain health (There is no wheelchair for your brain.)
Biohacking using the latest research and gadgets
Mindset (Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.)
Health is our greatest asset. Ignoring it only postpones the inevitable. An obsessive focus on health is not good either. We need a balance.
I hope you will join me on the path to be wellthy.
The Be Wellthy newsletter comes out weekly on Mondays. Subscribe and never miss an issue!