We were sitting in a café, a new friend and I, having a late afternoon visit.
“I’m going to try a new product that’s just come out – it’s got ginseng and ginkgo biloba in it,” she said to me, as she added sugar to her coffee.
“Why are you wanting to use it?” I asked.
“I’m so tired all the time, and lately I haven’t been able to think clearly. This product is supposed to perk you up and make you more alert.” My friend sampled her coffee, made a face, and then added more sugar.
“Often just a few changes to the diet improves energy levels,” I suggested. Usually, I avoid giving advice when it’s not asked for (it tends to offend some individuals) but I felt obligated to at least offer this simple health fact.
“There’s nothing wrong with the way I eat,” She snapped indignantly as she reached to take a bite of her doughnut.
“Of course.” I decided not to go there. I knew she wasn’t very active, so I tried a different approach, “What about exercise? Would that perk you up?”
My friend rolled her eyes. Obviously I’d been born yesterday. “Oh for Pete’s sake – you fitness people. Honestly, Eve, I haven’t the time or the energy to exercise.”
Actually, physical activity doesn’t have to take up much time and it boosts metabolism making you feel more energetic. However (for now), I felt I’d better drop the exercise topic too. I tried another tactic, “Sleep is another factor often overlooked for good health. Most of us aren’t getting enough.”
My friend nodded in agreement as she took another big bite of her doughnut, “But I get enough. Usually six hours.”
“People under a lot of stress may need more. Raising two teenagers and working in a customer complaints department can’t be easy!” I sympathized with her, hoping to open her eyes to other possibilities for improving her health.
“The stress I can handle. For me, what it really comes down to is a matter of time, Eve. There are just not enough hours in the day. Believe me, taking these ginkgo pills will be a quick and easy way to perk me up.”
Quick and easy? Perhaps. But effective? Not likely.
My friend is like so many of us seeking a quick fix. We fail to recognize that our daily habits are possibly robbing us of good health. We overlook our need for good nutrition, relaxation time and regular moderate activity, and opt for some type of product to correct our health problem. Without a solid foundation of physical activity and a nutritious diet, it’s unlikely to see any long-term health benefits from popping a pill.
My friend thinks it’s a problem of “time”. Not so. It’s a problem of choices. She chose to have coffee with sugar and a doughnut, instead of herbal tea and fresh fruit. She chose to mindlessly watch television after dinner, instead of taking a ten-minute brisk walk. She chose to nag and argue with her rebellious teenage sons instead of putting aside her anger and giving them a big hug. And sadly, she’s choosing to remedy all these problems by taking a pill. None of these healthier choices takes any more time than the unhealthy ones.
Good health really is all about making choices. What do you choose?
Eve Lees is a Certified Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications including INSPIRED Senior Living.