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Weekend Edition: Health = Wealth

This week I accidentally got sucked into looking through one of those mindless ad-laden Forbes features on the world’s top billionaires.  The leader of this flock, the current richest person in the world is a dude in Mexico called Carlos Slim, with a fortune of about 74 billion dollars. And as it turns out, “Slim” is a bit of an optimistic last name.

Then I clicked down the list to look at the other people. And I started to notice a pattern. Despite their unimaginable heaps of wealth, as a group they look far from exceptional in the area of health.

If you ask the typical person, even here in the United States: What would you rather have:

  1. A gigantic amount of money, but be overweight and/or frail to the point of needing an elevator to get up to the sixth floor of a building, or
  2. Just a comfortable amount of money and a gold-quality, healthy energetic mind and body that keeps you jumping around having fun with no health issues until you’re 100 years old…

What do you think he or she would say?

I haven’t formally surveyed any groups myself , but I have a feeling most people would pick the exceptional health option.

The good news is, it is much easier for most of us to get exceptional health than billionaire wealth. All you need to do is keep your body doing something other than sitting in a chair for a few hours each day, lift some weights occasionally, and eat the most natural and unprocessed foods you can find.

But yet the surprising truth is that most people are actually spending most of their time (40+ hours per week) pursuing the Wealth rather than the Health. Then the Wealth is often invested in unhealthy activities like sedentary sightseeing vacations, eating two-thousand-calorie restaurant meals, and gas-powered recreational pastimes like motorboating and ATV riding.

I won’t get into the issue of the nation’s increasing waistline because I don’t know enough about all the complicated social and industrial factors causing it to comment.

But I do know one thing: YOU have a chance to be super-healthy, and if you are not already a permanently grinning, well-muscled ball of energy like this elderly Japanese man, then I suggest you should consider becoming one. The reason is because it will make you happier, just like becoming rich and achieving an early retirement through frugality will make you happier.

It’s time to raise our standards for ourselves. I don’t look like Vin Diesel right now, but dammit, I am going to! I’m no longer going to settle for being moderately fit. I want to be at Maximum Health!

Are you ready for my Inspirational Bombshell? Then have a look at this 74-year-old woman named Ernestine Shepherd, currently the world’s oldest female bodybuilder.
Eh? What do you think of that!?

I was already an optimist when it comes to old age, because I am often passed by gray-haired old men when I’m trying my best to speed along on a country road at 40 km/hr on my road bike.  But this lady raises my standards WAAAY higher than they’ve ever been. Just seeing the picture made me realize that I totally suck so far, and I must do much better from now on.

If you’re already at Maximum Health, then good for you. If you’re not – what is holding you back? For me, it has been a case of Excusitis. I’ve been telling myself that because I’m already better off than most people, that is good enough. But that’s a tricky game to play. If you’re not taking the best possible care of your health – who do you think you are fooling? I’m getting older. It is absolutely unacceptable for me to become one of those self-disabled people – i.e., a person who loses their health and mobility through decades of sedentary lifestyle.  If I ever have a serious health problem in later years, and I haven’t maintained Maximum Health, it will be my own fault. So from this day on, it’s Maximum for me. And you too!

There are lots of good books in the library about how to get healthy, but if you just want the Mustachian summary of the most important secret steps, here it is:

Never eat any form of white bread, soda, candy, cake, cookies, fast food, donuts, or other fakiepants food at home or at restaurants. (You can still have it at parties).
I’m always amazed to see people eating these things, because once again, who do they think they are fooling? IT’S NOT FOOD!! Your body hates that stuff! You can still get the indulgence of yummy but awful food occasionally when you are at a friend’s house. But to actually buy it as part of your grocery trip? That’s just self-destructive, dude. Just this one step would cure 50% of the nation’s health problems

Eat lots of healthy proteins and fats.
Your new snack around the house is almonds and walnuts. Bananas with all-natural peanut butter. Apples, mangos, cheese, eggs, beans of all sorts, delicious slabs of fish, chicken, rice, all the olive oil you want, lots of spices, whey protein powder mixed with milk, burritos, cilantro, salads with rich natural oily dressing.. stuff like that. You’re not on a low fat diet – you’re just on a low-processing diet. Your appetite will adjust to start taking in the right number of calories (instead of too many) as soon as you drop refined flour and sugar from the diet.

Obey The Mustachian Commandments on Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol is fun! I drink it regularly. But I know it is toxic. You’re drinking from a bottle with a skull and crossbones on it, so respect the poison and realize it is draining a tiny bit of your health directly with every sip.

Always accept Exercise when it stares you in the face!
For example, there are only two valid reasons for a person with functioning legs to EVER use an elevator or escalator:

  1. You are moving a trolley of heavy equipment or construction materials between levels of the building
  2. You are an olympic athlete who has just finished training SO HARD that it would be detrimental to your competitive performance to climb even one more flight of stairs

For the rest of us, stairs are a gift from the Fitness Gods, so thou shalt run up them whenever thou findest them. Even if your office or hotel room is on the 15th floor (I did a test on a recent vacation – 15 floors takes only about 90 seconds at a moderate stair-climbing pace in even in my current Non-Vin-Diesel condition). Even if you’re carrying a suitcase at the airport – come on, don’t be a big sissy.

NEVER use a car when a bike or your feet will suffice.
Every trip under 5 miles on a day with reasonable weather must be done by foot or bike. Yes, even to the grocery store or taking your small child to school – use a bike trailer. In addition, if you work less than 10 miles from home, you must bike to work at least twice a week, whenever it is above freezing and not raining or snowing.

Following these steps will get you to Good Health. To get to Maximum health, you need to add weights – three times a week, for as little as 18 minutes per session (3-4 sets of 3 varied heavy exercises with no rest between them). If you like running or swimming or other sports, add in some of that too, good for you!

Now that you see it all in one blog posting like that, it’s a pretty easy way to add 60 years of healthy energetic Good Times to your life, and millions of dollars in income and saved expenditures, don’t you think?

How will YOU achieve Maximum Health from this point onwards?

  • Roger June 11, 2011, 12:18 pm

    Good post! You might want to check out the Paleo diet/lifestyle at Mark’s Daily Apple (http://www.marksdailyapple.com) for more tips.

    Reply
    • Simple Science Fitness January 17, 2013, 4:20 pm

      Mr. Money Mustache’s simple reasoning for going with unprocessed whole foods and weights is bang on.

      Adding your site recommendation, Simple Science Fitness (http://simplesciencefitness.com) also covers a lot of paleo-related subjects along with weight training.

      Reply
  • No Debt MBA June 11, 2011, 12:38 pm

    I’m definitely #2. I’m very good about walking, alcohol, and cooking real food, but I do have a weakness for the occasional fakiepants item maybe two or three times a week. I will admit to having a donut for breakfast this morning but doing a half mile walk to get it and will be making a nutritious, no fakie lunch. There’s certainly room for improvement.

    I think people focus more on money than health because working provides more immediate and measurable rewards – it’s hard to ignore a biweekly paycheck where feeling a little more chipper some days or loosing a few pounds is more complex.

    Reply
  • Mr. Frugal Toque June 11, 2011, 12:47 pm

    That’s more like it. Enough of that high-falutin’ stock shit. I want lectures about how to live my day-to-day life.

    Yeah!

    Off to the weight room!

    Reply
    • MMM June 11, 2011, 6:24 pm

      Thanks Mr. Frugal Toque.. it is good to hear enthusiasm for the Bossy and Inspirational Mr. Money Mustache, since those articles are both easier and more fun to write :-) .. and they work on me too – I have done a ridiculous amount of weightlifting and crossfit ring exercises since writing that.

      Reply
  • Matt June 11, 2011, 1:44 pm

    Reply
  • GL June 11, 2011, 1:57 pm

    “Oh, I knew one guy, he never went off his diet – he never drank, he never smoked, he never did anything wrong… He was in perfect health – right up ’til the time he killed himself.”
    Rodney Dangerfield

    Reply
    • MMM June 11, 2011, 6:09 pm

      Hey there GL. I just clicked on your name and noticed you are a future bestselling Kindle Author – congratulations!

      I have some college/university posts coming up myself since several students and newgrads have asked questions. Should I check out your ebook and do a review of it as an MMM article?

      Reply
  • mike crosby June 11, 2011, 2:07 pm

    No doubt– Ernestine is hot. Wow.

    Billions or health, I’ll choose good health anyday. How many of the world’s billionaires would give up some of their billions to be at the proper weight, blood pressure, cholesterol etc?

    Everyday I eat properly, I liken it to making a million dollars. But really a million is too low, we can’t put a price on our health.

    Time, health and wealth. When we’re young we have time and health, no money. Middle age–health and wealth, no time, old age–time and wealth, no health. The trick to life is to have all three.

    Reply
    • MMM June 11, 2011, 6:15 pm

      Hey Mike.. I like that wise little summary you put in at the end there. Without realizing it, my philosophy in writing this blog is definitely to get people to max out Health, Wealth, and Time as soon as possible, and then spend their entire lives in a luxurious bubbling hot tub overflowing with the three magical substances. Talking only about money becomes hollow if you don’t also talk about how to enjoy it to the maximum.

      Reply
    • Yvonne May 28, 2013, 12:36 pm

      Late to this entry too, but LOVING them. This topic reminds me of the novel “The Time Keeper” by Mitch Albom. What is important, and what can we buy and what not?

      Reply
  • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple June 11, 2011, 3:33 pm

    Okay, that’s a really good, basic summary! Except for the “cakes are okay at parties”. I’d have to amend that. With a 5 year old, March, April, and May are one big string of birthday parties. I just have to say no every single weekend.

    So maybe I can have cake but only at my OWN birthday party.

    Reply
    • MMM June 11, 2011, 6:17 pm

      Excellent idea Marcia. Mr. Money Mustache enjoys it when he is out-badassed by his own readers!

      I also skip the cake at kid birthdays. If I’m going to eat a cake, it had better be someone’s incredible handmade cheesecake with the richest Belgian chocolates and fresh organic cherries harvested by baby angels. A sugar-drenched cake from a bakery or a cake mix is not worth the health cost.

      Reply
      • CG February 24, 2012, 9:26 am

        I make cake and cookies at home but I rarely eat them. There are ways to make baked goods healthier(such as substituting oils with pureed fruit or veggies, drastically cutting sugar, replacing sugar with fruit juice or honey, using homemade oat flour instead of white) and I do those so my hubby and kids can have occasional treats without making me feel terribly guilty. My kids love my zucchini bread! ;) One homemade cake I absolutely love is hot milk sponge. It’s egg based and very low calorie so it’s the perfect base for tons of fresh fruit. It feels like a huge indulgence but has a minimal white flour/sugar impact.
        When I go out, I’m in your camp, it has to a very special cake for me to partake. I do take a bite of wedding cakes in case the bride and groom are superstitious about that stuff but otherwise you couldn’t pay me to eat it.
        I used to work at a bakery and I couldn’t count the amount of times I heard “How do you stay so skinny working here?” I had to use some PC responses like “I must have a high metabolism” since I was getting income from the place, but I rarely ate any of their stuff. Sugar is an evil addiction.
        I read somewhere recently that the average American consumes about 200lbs of sugar and corn syrup every year. Someone is making up for our numbers. We consume just 10lbs a year per person in actual sugar. We don’t eat too much processed but it can’t be too much more than another 10lbs per person a year. So we’re around 1/10 of average consumption. And we’re all slim and healthy. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

        Reply
  • Lisa June 11, 2011, 6:01 pm

    All great healthy living tips!

    On a personal note, I could just cry about the fact that there is no SAFE way for me to walk or ride to town with my kids. :(

    I’ve written to various officials trying to get sidewalks and/or crosswalks installed so I can walk the mile and 1/4 to my library, CVS, bank. post office etc….sigh. For now I just park at one end of town and walk the length of main street to do my errands…

    Reply
    • MMM June 11, 2011, 6:22 pm

      Yeah, that is a valid problem for rural residents. It is great that you are letting your town folks know that there is demand for bicycle friendliness. Colorado is getting pretty high in the national rankings for bike accessibility since even our governors and mayors are all bike racers.

      But when you’re not towing kids, you can certainly share a regular road with cars. Most of my solo riding is still done on roads without bike lanes. I avoid really narrow ones with high-speed traffic, but in regular small-city traffic it is possible to be quite safe as long as you assume everyone does not see you and ride appropriately.

      Reply
  • Bakari Kafele June 12, 2011, 5:38 pm

    you forgot one very important reason for taking an escalator or elevator.

    A lot of buildings only have staircases as an exit, and there is no way to go up without using them.

    Reply
  • Dee June 14, 2011, 8:31 pm

    “But I do know one thing: YOU have a chance to be super-healthy, ….”

    I bet all the YOUs out there with chronic diseases like MS and Crohn’s disease were relieved to learn they could be super-healthy too!

    I know I am being too literal but…it isn’t that simple for everyone…

    And maybe you should give your Mustachians-in-the-making a 6x week pass on anything unhealthy, rather than just on alcohol. Myself, I’d give up beer before I’d give up cake. And I’m a big fan of beer.

    Reply
    • MMM June 14, 2011, 10:11 pm

      Hmm.. Good point. 6 beers per week has been criticized by the party-oriented mustachians as far too strict. But 6 pieces of cake per week is obviously far too much. And the MMM allowance for cigarettes is Zero. Maybe it is because cake and tobacco don’t pay you back with drunkenness. Ahh, it sure is tricky being a role model ;-)

      Reply
    • Yvonne May 28, 2013, 12:45 pm

      those with chronic health problems……Maybe not super healthy but there is plenty that can be accomplished with better nutrition and what ever level of exercise and fresh air can be tolerated. I have chronic kidney disease and hypertension, from a Metal on Metal hip implant, of all thing. Even so, I can minimize the amount of medication I need for the blood pressure by making sure to eat low sodium, and minimize the “load” on my kidneys NOT ingesting more chemicals for them to filter out. Because of the hip problems, I can walk about 1-2 miles a day…..that’s it. But I can be sure to do that; I can watch my weight so that I am not putting extra stress on an already damaged joint, I can stretch and do some simple yoga moves, I can meditate to deal with the stress of having a chronic health problem…..
      My point, I guess, is that I believe there is always room for improvement> I may not have a chance to meet someone else’s “maximum health” but I sure can take steps to maximize my own health, even with some significant limitations.

      Reply
      • sid June 26, 2014, 11:59 am

        All people can reach peak health, but that doesn’t mean that peak health is the same for all people. We all have to do the best we can with what we have. By simply following MMM’s recommended diet plan, however, even those with chronic autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s will be and feel much healthier. I know. I live with an autoimmune disease every day and manage it far better with diet and exercise than I ever could with medication.

        Reply
  • Kevin M June 16, 2011, 9:57 am

    Wealth doesn’t mean much if you aren’t healthy enough to enjoy it. Love this post MMM.

    Reply
  • Dawn June 21, 2011, 7:31 am

    It seems to me that health and wealth are not mutually exclusive! Having good health (and one should do everything that they can to get it) will save you lots of money in the long run …… not to mention time, effort, frustration, energy and depression wasted when one is really sick.

    Consider looking at the essay by Ernest Callenbach entitled, “The Green Triangle” to see how intricately that health, wealth and the environment are linked together and by doing something for one side of the triangle benefits the other two. Here’s a link:

    http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC26/Callnbch.htm

    Thanks for your great blog. I enjoy it immensely and feel you are a “kindred spirit” (don’t all Canadians quote Anne of Green Gables?).

    Reply
    • MMM June 21, 2011, 8:31 am

      You are right – they are far from mutually exclusive.. in fact, the article title suggests the opposite – they are EQUAL! I definitely find that every extra bit of health makes be happier, yet also seems to attract more wealth like a magnet (by giving me more energy to do things and meet people). Thanks for your comment and thanks for reading!

      Reply
  • Dawn June 21, 2011, 12:49 pm

    Yes, your title says they are equal, but they are not.

    You give the example of the people who unbalance the scale by chasing wealth while not pursuing health, and yeah, that is not smart. Also, if you are suffering with poor health (with chronic pathological conditions that Dee mentioned, like MS and Crohn’s Disease) all the wealth in the world may make you more comfortable but not necessarily healthy. The truth is that one must work at both (if they were equal once could replace the other and this is not true!) and when this is done the planet earth is a healthy and abundant place.

    Thanks for your response.

    Reply
  • cb February 1, 2013, 9:11 am

    Come on, you can ride when it’s below freezing!
    It feels so…fresh!

    Reply
  • Patricia May 7, 2013, 2:28 am

    Hi MMM

    I am in an endless pursuit for good health and fitness, now did you mean 15floors in 90 minutes? 90 seconds seems like a job for The Flash.

    love the blog,

    I still don’t believe am saving more now than when I earned more.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2013, 9:01 am

      No, the Flash could do 15 floors in 0.09 seconds!

      Think about the math: a hotel floor is about 10 feet, or 17 steps at 7″ each. So 15 floors is 255 steps.

      To do this in 90 minutes (5400 seconds), means you are taking one little step every 21 seconds. Even a brain floating in a glass jar could climb steps faster than that!

      To do it in 90 seconds, you need to cover just under 3 steps per second. I usually take 3 stairs per step when trying to climb quickly, and so doing this once per second is actually pretty leisurely.

      Of course, 15 floors is a short distance, like fast-jogging a few hundred meters. If climbing the 160-story Burj Khalifa, you’d have to slow down to a more sustainable pace that your heart and lungs can keep up with for many minutes (experienced hikers budget 1000-2000 feet per hour of elevation on multi-hour hikes).

      Reply
  • Margaret May 11, 2013, 5:15 am

    Great article..I’m reading everything from the beginning. You are my morning fix with coffee. I just finished listening to the audio book “Eat To Live” by Joel Fuhrman

    http://www.amazon.com/Eat-Live-Nutrient-Rich-Sustained-ebook/dp/B0047Y175M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368270824&sr=8-1&keywords=eat+to+live

    I’m listening to it again (from the library). It is amazing and basically talks about everything you mentioned here, EXCEPT, to limit animal food intake. It states studies that show how eating 90% of your diet in fresh raw fruits and veggies will basically cure/eliminate any health problems. Fascinating book!!!

    Reply
  • mohammad July 13, 2013, 4:44 pm

    I’m a physician, and I’m all about the MMM style. I agree totally with the white bread/dessert thing…do it on that rare occasion . Booz, I drink 2 glasses of wine every night (cheap, nothing fancy), 1-2 drinks a night is fine and probably good for you.

    Being a patient is a condition in and of itself. If you go to the doctor you will get medications, and it may not be good for you. Our medical literature is funded by pharma…pharma doesn’t study walnuts, they study chemicals….cuz that’s what sells.

    We have 50 doctors in my office, 4 floors, about 1000 patients entering and exiting the building every day. There is a LINE to wait for parking closest to the elevators all the time (and no, not everyone has a walking disability) and the stair cases are almost never used.

    Avoid the escalator, use the stairs. Avoid the simple carbs and stick with the veggies. Enjoy your booz of choice and you’ll hopefully never have to see me.
    I will add one more thing, stay away from animal products. Every study that comes out tells us that animal products harm you more than they are good for you. And no, omega 3 fatty acids don’t come just from fish.

    Reply
    • Tom October 18, 2013, 2:25 pm

      There is ample evidence that alcohol has a significant effect on brain health. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLKj1puoWCg

      I’d also recommend that everyone read The China Study to learn more about health/nutrition, and how organizations like the FDA/USDA are not your friend. The nutrition information put out by the US Government is a joke; it’ll just make you sick and keep you sick. We can cure many health problems with nutrition, even many cancers, but that’ll never become common knowledge because there’s no money in it. Sad.

      Reply
  • ickabug May 12, 2014, 1:29 pm

    I’m a new reader of this blog, so I’m going over older articles and I ran across this one on Health=Wealth. The title covers a subject that I have been pondering from another angle. I have always marveled at the myriad of diet advice available. A zillion ways to lose weight. But in reality the solution is simple. Eat less, exercise more. That’s all there is to it.

    Now we have MMM describing how to become wealthy. Spend less, save more. That’s all there is to it. Not coincidentally these simple prescriptions for a good life seem to have a commonality. Consume less, produce more. I find it interesting that all this really requires is discipline, and that seems to be where people have difficulty.

    It is even more fascinating that being good in one discipline doesn’t necessarily mean you will be good in the other, as pointed out by the example of Mr. Slim. I’m working at being good at both which sort of seems like the way MMM is advocating.

    Reply
    • Sensim June 30, 2014, 1:58 am

      Anyone with a good link to a website with healthy and tasty recipes, MMM-style?

      Reply
      • Greg June 30, 2014, 12:17 pm

        This blog is written by a regular poster to this site: http://www.nwedible.com/
        Perhaps she (or her site) could be of help.

        Greg

        Reply

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