Joe DiSanto hit the nail on the head when he talked about how thinking about life as a Three-Act Structure can be detrimental to the quality of life that is lived. We tend to look at the first part of life as the setup where we gather knowledge, equipping ourselves with the necessary tools for what’s to come. The second part is where we grind it out and work to build towards the life that we want. Lastly, we retire and die — anticlimactic, huh?
By looking at life like this, we leave out the part where we enjoy the metaphorical (or sometimes literal) fruits of our labor. Instead, we should then look at life as if there are four acts to experience, with the last act being the one where you start knocking stuff off your bucket list. But for this to be possible, we need to start making some changes.
According to the World Population Review, the average life expectancy of the typical American is 79.772 years of age. Now, if we split that up into quarters, we’ll have around 20 years for each of the four acts. How do we get the most out of those four acts, you may ask? Well, the answer is both simple and complicated: We have to invest in ourselves, and we have to invest in our health.
One of the first things we have to change is what we put in our body. And before you ask — no, this doesn’t mean eating bland food for the rest of our lives. It means being more mindful of the things that we consume.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But wait, I can’t afford to eat healthy!” And while it’s true that eating healthy is generally more expensive, the cost difference might not be as high as you think. According to studies conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, the shift to a healthier diet will only cost you $1.50 more per day. This will include important nutrient-rich food like fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts. And while this added cost may add up over time, it’s surely nothing compared to how much you’ll save on medical bills.
Let’s say, given the figure above, that eating healthier will cost one person approximately $550 more per year. This sounds like a lot, but research from George Washington University points out that the yearly cost associated with obesity is $4,879 and $2,646 for women and men, respectively. This means that a healthy diet will save you up to an annual $4,329 down the road — talk about a healthy investment!
Aside from obesity, chronic diseases such as diabetes can also be avoided by a mindful change in our diets. The American Diabetes Association has the annual costsattributed to diabetes at $7,900. Not only that, but this is a problem that’s set to get a lot worse for more people. Statistics gathered by Maryville University reveal that nearly half of the population will suffer from one chronic illness or another by 2025. That same year is also a worrisome year for healthcare providers, as there will be an expected shortage of around 100,000 family doctors. What these numbers tell us is that the daily $1.50 changes have to happen, and they have to happen now.
Now if you want go the extra mile — maybe run a couple of them. Yes, gym memberships are costly. The U.S. News and World Report points out that gym memberships can cost you around $660 annually, but by now we’ve already established that our unhealthy lifestyles will amount to way more. Still not sold on a gym? That’s fine, as the outdoors is always free. Set aside some time to go out and run. A little exercise goes a long way, so just remember that consistency is key.
When we invest in the future, we should also be investing in us. It’s time to stop looking at health as a means to an end. Health is not something that should be compromised. Rather, it’s something we should be building around. That’s because unlike many of the things that money can buy, it’s the only thing we can’t get back.