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Health Legacy

Looking at my maternal line, my grandmother was the first to graduate 8th grade. It was a big deal. My mother was the first to graduate high school, and I was the first to graduate college. My daughter just got her Master’s degree, so if she has a daughter, there might be some unintended pressure there.

Education is a privilege, and I am grateful for the opportunity. I don’t take it for granted, but I also don’t feel especially proud of it. Other than paying for it, school was not hard for me. My mother and teachers prepared me well, thus enabling me to complete it.

Today I realized that like education, I have surpassed the health measurements of all my relatives. None of my family members ever devoted as much to their health as I have, or enjoyed the results as much as I do. One grandmother was dead by my age; the other was quite feeble. My grandfather was permanently hospitalized before he was my age; the other would die by age 68.

My parents lived until ages 77 (mother) and 84 (father). However, my mother was a smoker and on oxygen. My father suffered a slow eroding of quality of life. Neither ran, hiked or went to the gym like I do. Neither made the choice to eat the organic, whole food diet that I enjoy. Both sat a lot, but neither meditated.

And here is the bad habit they taught me: neither went to the doctor unless the situation was extreme. I am not exaggerating about this. Both died from diseases that might have had different outcomes had they seen their doctors in the early stages.

Cultivating and maintaining good health is much harder than going to college. It’s for life, both in terms of goals and time frame. And although I don’t feel pride about having a college degree, I do feel pride about doing a 2-minute plank, for going to the gym as often as I do, and for seeing my doctor in the early stages of a problem, rather than having to go in an ambulance.

Plus, it feels good. Sure, I don’t particularly want to work out sometimes, but I have never regretted exercise; I’ve only regretted NOT exercising.

And if I can pass this health legacy on, that would be even better. What is your health legacy?

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