Being cheap with your health will cost you
As far as I'm concerned, most people (and governments) spend an embarrassingly low amount of money on health/fitness, at least in a preventative sense. We spend virtually any amount once our backs are against the wall and we realize how important our health is. But until the proverbial gun is against our head, something like a few hundred dollars a month on a personal trainer or health coach seems like a big expense.
Every day I talk to people who kind of know they have to do something about their health but claim to not have the extra $200 to get started. These same people won't think twice about dropping $80 on a single dinner or $700 for their third new TV in the last 5 years. Governments do the same; we collectively pour billions and billions every year treating the outcomes of an unhealthy lifestyle yet put almost nothing into preventative measures.
The irony is such that it would be funny if we weren't talking about people's health. The average person budgets heavily for things that are actually harmful like most restaurant meals or electronics that encourage even more sitting and screen time. Yet the budget for health or fitness is simply what's left at the end of the month after everything else is taken care of. The most important thing we can spend on, our own health, is the lowest financial priority (I also definitely understand being legit broke, my next blog will be about some basics for getting fit with little or no money).
I've unfortunately seen the pattern several times with people and it will continue to happen- we discuss getting started but there's no money and no time, a major health incident occurs and all of a sudden, time and money to work on health have mysteriously appeared.
Why a trainer can help you more than a doctor can
This is not a rant about people's unwillingness to make a change, but simply a plea- deal with me or someone like me now, today, or deal with the doctors down the road. The reality is that a health coach or personal trainer can actually do much more for your health than a doctor can in a sense. Of course a PT can't perform surgery on your heart or diagnose anything, but we can keep you away from the doctor in the first place. By the time the doctor has their hands on you, massive damage has already been done.
This is not to say that we can't launch incredible comebacks from that state, but it's always easier to deal with these problems from a position of strength, before you're on 5 new meds and have exercise restrictions related to your condition.
When you haven't prioritized health or fitness before, the mentality is such that all you can see is things being taken from you to come up with the money. An intensive one month coaching package could be $1000 - money that could have been used for a new iphone or a week in Mexico, tangible things we think make us feel better.
We don't understand yet the incredible value of spending on our health; it's actually about giving us things back we forgot we could even have like energy, a positive body image and the most important thing, our health. It's about making sure you can keep going to Mexico down the road, because once you get a serious diagnosis, you're not going to be going anywhere.
Where your health budget is getting wasted
Here's a few tips on what I see as some of the most logical ways to free up some extra money for your health:
- Restaurant meals. The absolute worst. This is the mother of all "double whammies", in that you're spending ridiculous amounts of money on single meals- meals that are actually making you less healthy! It's a brutal exchange from a health perspective. Stop eating out and you might have an extra $200-$300 to spend and you'll be down a pound or two as well!
- Beds. This is one I don't hear enough about but the amounts I hear people spending on beds is out of control. There simply isn't a lick of scientific data to suggest that buying a $4000 manhattan silk euro whatever top mattress is going to do anything for you. Half the world sleeps on mats and they generally have better outcomes with things like back pain and circulation. We have become soft, too draped in what we call "luxury". If you spent that amount of money on health and fitness, you wouldn't even feel like you needed the "best" mattress on the market- a mattress that might be hurting you anyways.
- Clothes/fashion. I am forever confused by this one. Like so many others, I used to spend hundreds/thousands of dollars trying to find things that looked right or that I felt comfortable in. Once I got into shape, all of a sudden, I felt great and started getting compliments on how good I looked- with a $5 walmart t shirt on, things that never happened when I was out of shape with a $50 t shirt on. Dump that entire fashion budget into health and fitness and you'll be able to pull off anything!
- Housing. This is another that always confuses me. People will spend anything, basically dedicating their entire lives to better housing yet won't spend a dime on the only house that really matters, the temple of your own body. An extra $500 a month to rent in a newer building that only really provides cosmetic benefits is a bad call in the face of failing health. People will do kitchen renovations that could cost 40k but won't shell out for a month of coaching. All this stuff will be about as useful as toilet paper in the face of a serious health issue.
- Travel. Full disclosure- I'm not a big travel guy, so take this with a grain of salt. But I often talk to people gaining weight year over year or dealing with increasing mobility issues who have no money for coaching yet go on 3-4 trips per year. I am not questioning the value of travel or the fulfillment/enjoyment most people get from it, I simply question it in terms of priorities. Once you're dealing with things like diabetes, hypertension and CVD, it's going to put a serious damper on your globetrotting. Might make sense to put that vacation budget into health for a couple years so you can get your hands around things.
Bottom line- the money is there and it's well worth it! Out of the things I listed or all the other possibilities, we all have one or two that just aren't going to happen, ie sacrificing travel for fitness. But they're not all going to be dealbreakers. Prioritize, find the money and execute.
On a personal level and collectively as a nation, we are simply failing to recognize the importance of preventative health measures. If you're thinking about something like personal training or health coaching, make the leap today and don't wait until you have no choice but to make it a priority.
Feel great again with Cooper Health Coaching!
Cooper Health Coaching is a personal training and health coaching service located in Vancouver, B.C. providing in-person and online coaching for clients locally and across North America. Founder Geoff Cooper is certified as both a Health Coach and Personal Trainer through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). To get in touch, click here.