Some clichés are prevalent for a reason, and the saying “Health is Wealth” is a prime example. While there are definitely ways to maintain or improve our health to the best of our capacity, sometimes, life has other plans. The best we can do is focus on what we have control over and surrender the rest.
I have had much time to reflect on what “wealth” means to me, and for now, it means freedom. Wealth is enough money to leave people and situations that no longer serve me. Wealth is waking up with a to-do list but no set time to do them. Wealth is the ability to shuffle work/business plans for the day to prioritize friends and family. Wealth is the peace of mind that allows me to sleep well at night. Wealth is not feeling like I have to show off my money to command respect from others. In short, wealth is the state of being free from the real and imaginary chains we may find ourselves in.
This kind of wealth is not possible without good health. Good health allows me to perform my work and be of service to those around me. It lets me escape sickness others are more susceptible to (hello, comorbidities). Healing my mental health allows me to form stable, respectful, and meaningful relationships with others. My commitment to my physical fitness enables my body to look a certain way, and this certain way attracts mates of high value (aka pretty privilege). Such a life partner contributes to a greater sense of wealth in mind, body, spirit, and literal net worth.
Speaking of mates, we must remember that when we commit to a man, we are committing to his lifestyle. Whatever he is doing now health-wise is what he will be doing until he himself decides to change. If he has a health habit that is a deal-breaker for you, it may be a sign to move on. Does he play video games all day? Does he have a sport he engages in often? What’s his diet like? I personally cannot be with someone for whom health is not a priority. The stability and longevity of a relationship rests on both his and my commitment to keeping ourselves in good shape with regards to all aspects of life.
As someone who has spent her career studying health and aging, I sometimes wonder if my fascination with health is unhealthy and if I am over-aware of the things I do and what I put in my body. Yes, I calorie-count, but only in my head because I already have a good grasp of how many kcals are in how much amount of food. Yes, I work out quite regularly but that’s because I feel restless when I don’t. I don’t believe our bodies evolved to be this sedentary, and the science shows it. I think I’m just more focused on my health than other people and that’s okay.
There’s a phenomenon in my Southeast Asian culture of telling people they are fat, point-blank. From my experience, it comes from a place of concern more than shaming. When I was bordering on an “overweight” BMI, my family told me I was fat. As a health researcher, I knew I was almost overweight, I knew my family history of Type II Diabetes and hypertension, I knew the host of chronic diseases I was predisposing myself to. As a woman and upon my aunts’ careful conversations around the topic, I knew I was making myself unattractive to my partner. After I reached a certain weight, I decided it was time to cut (a process of “cutting” fat by being in caloric deficit). It was a months-long process but I’m at a comfortable weight now.
Health is a family affair, as much as wealth is. It is our duty to hold each other accountable or, at least, encourage each other to eat well and move often. Within our own families, we can be more honest and direct. We control the food that goes into our households as well as the activities we perform. In our family, we follow the “An Activity A Day” rule. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, as long as it gets us moving. This could be walking or hitting golf balls at the range or taking a fitness class or paddle boarding. No matter what, we have to move.
I understand that health seems like a complicated topic to many people, but it doesn’t have to be. With the class and racial divide in health outcomes, we have rested in the insurmountability of the problem. What if I tell you it is possible to break out of the mold? That health isn’t a luxury but a necessity? That I was eating well even when I was the least financially liquid? That health “experts” make the topic so convoluted that it becomes a problem they can sell you the solution to?
What if I tell you that health and wealth can be this simple?:
Health is wealth.
Eat well and in moderation.
Be around good people.
Work with purpose and boundaries.
Feel your feelings, then move on.
Save and invest.
Live below your means.
May we be in a health and wealth mindset.
This we manifest.