Body, Mind & Spirit

Anyone who knows me well can attest to the fact that I enjoy a good donut now and then. In fact, I can enjoy lots of them – mounds of them. Give me a half gallon of skim milk and a dozen warm-glazed Krispy Kremes and I can astound young children and older women. But when the Dunkin’ Donuts moved to Brownsburg, a mere 200-yards from my front door, my wife began pre-planning my funeral. And that’s when I took notice.

So, as you can see, something had to be done. I had to take control of my life. I had to give more attention to my health care than my sick care.

Now, with the national health care reforms on the forefront of our discussions, I wonder if our focus isn’t frequently on the wrong end of the debate. Sure, we can focus on sick care (and the sick should be cared for), but there’s very little being said about health care – or, in other words, the health derived from personal responsibility for our own well-being and all that results from it.

But how do we become more healthy? How do we take charge and guard ourselves from our own excesses and take personal responsibility for our well-being?

As for me, I’ve certainly had to cut back on the donuts. That’s been tough. And I’ve had to step up my stepping (I mean, actual physical activity instead of chair-sitting). And I’ve made more frequent and more sustained efforts to engage in lifestyle-altering activities such as hiking, kayaking and weight-training. I’ve cut the dough out of my life and saved some dough, too. I’ve seen changes. I’ve lost some weight. I’m stronger. Or, as Yogi Berra once said, “I’m in pretty good shape for the shape I’m in.”

In the past year, I’ve also had friends who have stopped smoking (that’s a huge health and money savings). I’ve seen more people in the gym. I’ve encountered more people on trails. And some families I know have taken to growing their own vegetables and actually having fun with it.

But I wonder: what would happen to our health care (“I” care) if insurance companies gave steep discounts to those who, oh, let’s say, walked a certain number of miles each week, or who rode a bicycle to work, or who joined a gym, or who agreed to live on a donut-free diet? I might just sign up and have something to show for the commitment. My life might even change for the better. And, in time, I’d be healthier, too.

I might even transform my sick care into health care.

In fact, we all might.

Todd Outcalt is the senior pastor at Calvary Brownsburg and the author of twenty books, including Before You Say “I Do”, Your Beautiful Wedding on Any Budget, and School’s Out. His most recent CD collections, The Christmas Book and What Is a United Methodist?, may be ordered at