(Note: This is Part One of a two part post. In Part II we're going to get much more nuts-and-bolts practical, and I'm hoping some of you Smart Readers can help me out!)
Getting a Little Worried about the Economy?
Who knows, maybe the market is going to zoom up a few thousand points this week and Gloom and Doom scenarios will not come to pass. Companies will meet payrolls and there will be no layoffs or recessions or government cutbacks or bankruptcies. Perhaps some day in the future we'll all be laughing about those few funny weeks back in October of 2008 when everything seemed to be going to hell in a handbasket. But guess what, nothing bad actually happened! Ha ha ha ha!
Let's hope so, anyway.
But as a proud member of the "defensive pessimism" club, I'm guessing... we may be in for some tough times. It may be wise to think ahead about how we're going to handle them.
Many household budgets may no longer have room for things like gym memberships or cute workout clothes or personal trainers or kettlebells or heirloom organic vegetables or pre-cooked free range chickens -- or for extra hours of child care in order to get some time to work out.
How will this potentially sucky economy affect your health and fitness?
Perhaps that depends on how you approach it.
How Does The Economy Effect Health and Fitness?
There's a recent article in the New York Times (registration may be required) about how a good or bad economy can affect health. The whole thing is a bit of a mishmash, and there's no clear bottom line. The worst aspect seems to be the inability of lower income folks to pay for necessary health care. But depending on who you are and how you handle things, the article seems to suggest that bad economic times don't necessarily mean that the health of the population suffers.
They have examples like people who get fired from their jobs may get to spend more time with their kids; and folks who can't afford restaurants may do more cooking at home, from scratch. And they mention that "good times," can affect health in negative ways: people may work long hours, not exercise, skip doctor's appointments and eat lots of fatty food at restaurants.
Some Health Challenges When Money's Tight
I'm not an expert on either economics or health, so I'm only guessing. But here are some things that seem might get more difficult for a lot of families if the economy really does go down the toilet:
1. Affording proper health care
2. Eating nutritious food on a smaller budget
3. Having fewer exercise options, like gym memberships, exercise equipment, personal trainers, and even proper shoes and clothing
4. Coping with longer work hours from taking on second jobs
5. Or, alternatively, dealing with depression and loss of structure in the day from losing a job
6. Finding time to work out without money for day care or other household help, and
7. Stress, stress, stress, and more stress.
And I'm sure there are lots more I haven't thought of yet. But lets shift gears entirely now, shall we, for...
A Little Personal Story About Change!Once upon a time, I worked for a stodgy old legal publishing company. The environment was not glamorous and we were all underpaid, but it was a friendly, flexible workplace. Most of my coworkers were scary smart and hella fun to hang with. And there were genuine wild-haired eccentrics roaming the hallways! People got hired and stayed there for decades, pretty much until they retired or toppled over at their desks of old age.
It short: it was a comfortable place to work and I mostly liked the job a lot.
Then one day another, bigger company bought us. Consultants were dispatched and soon thereafter there were beaming corporate trainers everywhere, and a blizzard of buzz-words and binders and workshops and mission statements and team-building exercises all designed to turn us in to model employees.
Employees of the Month!
(Photo by defwheezer)
(Photo by defwheezer)
And of course very soon thereafter, two-thirds of the workforce was fired. Welcome to Change, and don't let the door smack you in the ass on your way out.
Those of us who remained were left stunned and gasping; we flopped around like fish on a boat deck, wondering where the hell the our comfortable old salty water was. And we were the lucky ones.
And while I no longer own the personalized company t-shirt with my name misspelled on it, I did retain one thing from all those smiley-faced trainings on the brave new corporate world: the concept they called ... the "Opporthreat."
Seriously, An Opporthreat?It was hard not to laugh. In fact, many employees heard it as an "opera threat," and understandably became very confused. Were well-endowed sopranos wearing horned helmets on the way to roust us from our cubicles?
But the term basically seemed to mean this: sometimes a big looming change that looks like it's going to be a "Threat" can really be an "Opportunity." So it's an "opporthreat!"
Kinda makes you want to puke, right? And mostly, it's bullsh*t.
Bad things aren't usually good things--they're bad things. Often when they happen, the best you can do is cope with them and hope one day to be back to normal.
But sometimes... crummy things actually do shake things up and change your life for the better. When your entire lifestyle needs to be re-evaluated for stupid reasons beyond your control, sometimes you can actually use that "all bets are off" feeling to rediscover your true priorities again.
As it happened, the decimation of our comfortable old workplace really did lead to some great new work and lifestyle changes for many people at the company, including myself. Eventually. But the transitions were sometimes long and painful.
So I guess I'm hoping that for some people, in some situations, the coming crappy economic times could actually be a chance to reevaluate lifestyle decisions. Not just how often to eat dinner out, but even major things like what kind of neighborhood to live in or how many cars to own or how many hours to work and how much "stuff" in our lives we decide is really necessary.
'Cause I'm thinking mostly it's gonna suck. But perhaps some of us might find a few "Opporthreats" out there?
Help Me Write the Next Post on Practical Ways to Stay Healthy When Money's Tight!
I know there are probably practical lists all over the web on ways to be healthy on a budget, but we want one here too! I'd like to collect a bunch of tips and links in one place, especially ones that have actually worked for Cranky Fitness readers. And I'd like to have a whole post about it, rather than bury great ideas in the comments section of this post.
So if any of you could email us here at Crabby McSlacker @ gmail dot com (no spaces) that would be awesome. If you're a blogger and you've already written a post on cheap ways to stay healthy, please send us a link! Or if you've seen a really helpful bunch of tips elsewhere and can send a link, that would be great too.
And we'd love to hear from any of you who have specific suggestions about staying healthy on the cheap! We may edit down longer suggestions to get small bite sized tip just to keep the list manageable.
We'd love to create a book-markable resource to come back to if, a few months down the road, you should God Forbid find yourself in need of some ideas for cutting expenses.
If you could get any tips or links to us by later in the week that would be great--I can run the post Friday or next Monday.
So, are any of you worried about the economy? Ever actually had an "opporthreat" in your own life, where you actually turned a crappy situation into something good?