Preservation of Choices

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*This article first appeared in Panorama Community Magazine in March 2024.

We love choices.  

Going for pizza?  We have a variety of choices.  Depending on our favorite style of pizza, we have our favorite places based on even just that.

Shopping for clothes?  We have a variety of choices.  

Go to your favorite fast food joint and you are asked, “do you want fries with that?”  Again, we love the opportunity to choose.  

Planning to join a gym?  You have a variety of choices. 

How would you feel if your opportunity to choose was taken away or your choices became far more limited?

Depending on what choice was being limited, you’d potentially be outraged or severely disappointed.  

What folks don’t consider often enough is how their ability to choose today preserves their ability to make choices later in their life.  

In the realm of health, fitness, and nutrition, your choices for better or for worse, are affecting your ability to choose later on in life.  

Choosing to fuel yourself primarily with nutritious, whole foods will help minimize your reliance on medications to manage metabolic conditions, such as diabetes, in the future.  

Choosing to embrace an exercise program, no matter your stage in life, will help you maximize your ability to choose to stay in your own home as long as possible before you may need to choose an assisted living/skilled nursing facility circumstance.  

Choosing to stay active and move regularly will greatly prolong your ability to move freely and independently as long as possible.  

With any of these choices, it often comes down to choosing the harder thing in the moment.  Eating something processed is way easier than preparing your own meal.  It’s easier to sit on the couch instead of going for a walk.  It makes for an easier day when you don’t have to carve out some time to workout.  

A coach that works with me, Coach Kathie, is always reminding people to “choose your hard.”  Choosing the harder thing now makes other things easier later on.  On the other hand, choosing the easier route now, makes things far more difficult later on.  

I’d like to encourage you to do some self-reflection.  What future choices do you want to preserve?  

Currently, I do some per diem work as a Registered Nurse in a local nursing home and I witness the existence of many who have lost their ability to choose.  Many are bedridden or are limited by where they can traverse with their wheelchair or other ambulation apparatus.  Many have no choice but to take numerous medications to keep their chronic diseases in check.  Your ability to choose your meal each day is limited by what the kitchen is offering.  For many, they lose the ability to go to the bathroom promptly when the urge arises because so many of their peers are in the same circumstance and there are only so many staff to go around.  

For some, a small percentage, their reason for being there is not a result of their choices, but those of someone else or some other circumstance.  For example, they may have a history of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) secondary to an accident and that is not something they can control.  

The sad part though, is that the reasons behind being in the nursing home are often secondary to circumstances they had choices over throughout their life. 

Ultimately, it comes down to you and your willingness to choose the hard thing.  We are programmed to want the easy, comfortable route; however, that is exactly what chips away at our preservation of choices.  When we shift the responsibility for our own well-being to someone else or some other circumstance, you are gambling with your future.

My encouragement for you is to seek challenge and to seek discomfort.  Choose the hard thing.  Choose it and you will be able to choose for yourself for a long time.