Don’t be poor (and other New Year’s resolutions.)

Diabetes death rate drops — primarily among rich people.

This is my SURPRISED FACE. Especially since, in 1995, the World Health Organization identified poverty as “the biggest single underlying cause of death, disease and suffering worldwide.”

In a hilarious-because-it’s-sadly-true list posted to the Wikipedia article on the social determinants of health, a typical list of “lifestyle” tips for better health is contrasted with a list of socially determined tips for better health:

The traditional 10 Tips for Better Health [69]

    * 1. Don’t smoke. If you can, stop. If you can’t, cut down.
    * 2. Follow a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
    * 3. Keep physically active.
    * 4. Manage stress by, for example, talking things through and making time to relax.
    * 5. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
    * 6. Cover up in the sun, and protect children from sunburn.
    * 7. Practice safer sex.
    * 8. Take up cancer-screening opportunities.
    * 9. Be safe on the roads: follow the Highway Code.
    * 10. Learn the First Aid ABCs: airways, breathing, circulation.

The social determinants 10 Tips for Better Health[70]

    * 1. Don’t be poor. If you can, stop. If you can’t, try not to be poor for long.
    * 2. Don’t have poor parents.
    * 3. Own a car.
    * 4. Don’t work in a stressful, low-paid manual job.
    * 5. Don’t live in damp, low-quality housing.
    * 6. Be able to afford to go on a foreign holiday and sunbathe.
    * 7. Practice not losing your job and don’t become unemployed.
    * 8. Take up all benefits you are entitled to, if you are unemployed, retired or sick or disabled.
    * 9. Don’t live next to a busy major road or near a polluting factory.
    * 10. Learn how to fill in the complex housing benefit/asylum application forms before you become homeless and destitute.

So I guess we can all revise our New Year’s resolutions somewhat.

Now, of course, I’m not trying to be fatalistic, and I wouldn’t ever want to take away someone’s feelings of hope of what they can achieve, nor their sense of bodily autonomy — but the trick here is to remember, whenever you’re making “lifestyle” changes for the sake of improved health, keep the bigger context in mind.

Do a sound cost-benefit analysis before embarking on something you don’t enjoy, solely “for the sake of your health.” Keep in mind that certain changes represent only a drop in the bucket of your overall health, and that if something isn’t worth doing for its own sake (intrinsic motivation, remember?), then maybe it’s not worth doing at all.

That said, I’ve made a few…let’s call them “atypical” resolutions of my own — to work hard in therapy, to get better at understanding my limits and boundaries, to speak up when I need help, to work hard on the business-thing, to deliberately build pleasure into my daily life, and to remember that doing all of the drudgy housework-things is part of taking care of myself.

If I had the money and time, I’d add “take a ballet class” to that list, but since that’s not possible for me right now (don’t be poor!), I’ll work on figuring out some alternative. I know it sounds weird for a fat (and fat-accepting) person — particularly one who says “fuck” as often as I do — to be interested in ballet, but I’ve always been a study in contrasts and ballet has always appealed to me.

The idea that it might also be subversive for me now, given my fattitude, only enhances the appeal.

A fat ballet dancer from The Big Ballet

a fat ballet dancer from The Big Ballet

Any atypical resolutions to share?

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