One of my earliest posts on self-sufficiency touted the health benefits of this form of living. I most definitely stand by that post—anything you can do to improve your health is good. In the time since I wrote that post, I’ve lost still more weight and I now control my diabetes using diet alone. In fact, I no longer take any sort of medication to manage health issues. I’m still not out of the woods—nor is my wife. We both know that we have further to go if we want this lifestyle to produce the desired results. However, it’s nice to see the progress that we’ve made.
Some people are under the wrongful assumption, however, that simply changing diet, losing weight, and living healthier will undo the wrongs of the past. My situation is a case in point. Losing weight has actually caused a health problem in my case and I recently had to have my gallbladder removed to solve the problem. Many sites tell you that rapid weight loss will cause the formation of gallstones, but this isn’t quite true. Every medical professional I’ve talked with has told me outright that any weight loss greater than 50 pounds can result in gallstones. If you’re diabetic, the gallstones are especially troublesome because they can cause problems with the pancreas—an organ already overextended by diabetes. Certainly, my 4 pound per month average weight loss isn’t rapid and well within the recommended guidelines. My take on all this is that there is no free lunch—if you’ve abused your body you’re going to pay a price for it.
However, in the grand scheme of things, losing a gallbladder is certainly preferable to the problems I’d experience if I remained at my former weight. Diabetics have all kinds of increased health risks, including loss of eyesight, heart troubles, kidney damage, and nerve damage. Getting my weight and diabetes under control was the right thing to do, even if it cost me a gallbladder to do it. You can easily live without a gallbladder, but you can’t live without a heart and life is far less liveable without eyes. In fact, if you’re living a healthy lifestyle, you’re unlikely to even notice that the gallbladder is gone once you get over the surgery.
What bothers me in all this is that the medical profession is lax about telling anyone the potential consequences of a seemingly healthy decision. Perhaps the thought is that any discussion of anything negative will only discourage people so that even fewer will take a positive course of action. Everything you do has a consequence, so it’s best to be informed. I hadn’t gotten very far along my current path when I discovered this potentially negative side effects of weight loss, but I had to conduct my own research to obtain the information. Of course, that’s my recommendation to you as well. You need to go into any health-related decision with eyes open. In my case, I made an informed decision and realized early there were risks.
So, what does this all have to do with self-sufficiency? Getting rid of the medications, learning to eat right, exercising nearly every day—all of these goals are part of being self-sufficient. As part of my self-sufficient lifestyle I’ll maintain more of my muscle mass far later in life (my 78 year old uncle can still lift 100 pound bags of feed), but I’ll pay for that ability with additional joint wear, so I imagine that I’ll need hip and/or knee surgery at some point. A self-sufficient lifestyle isn’t for everyone, perhaps you prefer the gym or simply a walk in the park, but getting healthier is a benefit to everything—most importantly yourself. I encourage you though to research your decisions and make the best decisions you can, realizing that there are always risks that you’ll have to deal with as part of that decision. How are your healthier living goals progressing? Let me know at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.