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Lesley Stern

Lesley Stern

Posted: September 25, 2009 05:04 AM

How To Live On $0 A Day: This Could Be the Best Health Care Reform Plan You're Gonna Get

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Regardless of how the health care debate turns out, one thing has become very clear. We're going to have to step up and start taking care of our own health. The people spending over 60 million dollars to debate it sure won't.

The obvious place to start is establishing some new habits to prevent any diseases and ailments that an insurance company would cancel your policy over (if you had one).

I went to the Department of Health and Human Services website to get some guidance. Turns out, a lot of their ideas are a little pricey and currently beyond many Americans' means (unless they're an insurance company executive.) I've taken the HHS guidelines and translated them into measures that your average financially strapped American can incorporate into their life.

Nutrition

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Everyone from Michelle Obama to Bill Maher has discussed the importance of organic, unrefined, pesticide and antibiotic free, sustainably raised foods. Of course, they're right.

Granted, you can't afford to buy them yourself, but if you have an accessible plot of land and a few seeds, you might want to start growing and selling your own produce for an insanely high price at the local farmers' market. With the profits, you can afford a decent meal. Better yet, save up for a one way ticket to France.

Fitness

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It's tough to maintain a fitness regimen when you've had to cancel your gym membership. Especially when you're too depressed to get out of bed.

One exercise that can be performed from any position, including fetal, is to tighten your thighs and butt muscles and release as many times as you can. This will firm leg, buttock muscles and improve blood flow. Leg lifts are particularly effective if you're under a heavy comforter or bed spread, strengthening and toning both the calves, thighs, buttocks and in some cases abs.

Sex is also a good, inexpensive form of exercise that doesn't require getting out of bed (although it may compel you to leave the fetal position). This will require a partner since batteries are costly. Keep the lights out if you still have electricity so your partner doesn't see how out of shape you are.

I know it sounds like hard work, but the health benefits are worth it. And you'll thank me if something happens to draw you out of bed. You wouldn't want the repo man to think you've let yourself go.

Stress control

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Stress can kill you. Aside from exercise, the best thing you can do to keep anxiety at bay is to stop answering your phone or opening your mail. Try to avoid thinking, which can cause agitation. Under no circumstances should you tune into anything having to do with the health care debate.


I've heard that hugs reduce stress. If you don't have a significant other, hug a stranger (ask permission first, or it could cause legal problems). If possible, hold out for a really cute, rich one.

Sleep

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Ever since I ran out of Ambien and lost my health insurance due to a pre existing condition (I have a uterus), getting a good night sleep has been difficult. Like so many Americans, I lie awake fretting about finding a job, paying my bills and whether or not I have a deadly disease that would be treatable if I could afford a doctor.


It's a well known fact that regular exercise can be very helpful in relieving insomnia. Try the exercises I've listed above.

Spend at least one hour a day out of bed and don't sleep more than five hours during daytime hours. Any more than that makes it difficult to sleep at night.

I don't know about you, but counting sheep doesn't work for me and just makes me crave lamb chops. Try counting insurance executives running from a pitchfork wielding mob or burning in hell. I find it soothing.

Replace unhealthy habits with healthy ones

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If you haven't quit smoking yet, you must.. It's not only unhealthy, it's way too expensive. In some states, a pack of cigarettes is the same price as a week's worth of ramen noodles.


Yes, I know smoking is one of the few pleasures you have left. I know quitting is torture, especially if you can't afford Nicorette or Zyban (which can be more expensive than the darn cigarettes). If you need something to do with your hands, take up needlepoint, biting your fingernails (also an excellent source of protein) or shoplifting. If you find yourself missing the feeling of inhaling the soothing tendrils of smoke, consider chasing cars, which is also an excellent form of exercise.

With the money you save on cigarettes, you might even be able to afford an organically grown, pesticide-free, apple a day.

Check ups and inoculations
If you're insured and it doesn't require a co-payment to get shots and check ups, by all means, take advantage of it. But be warned, the check ups can have dangerous side effects, often leading to expensive tests, illness, and in some cases, death. Worse, sometimes they can result in bankruptcy. If you can't afford the check ups and shots, try not to think about it. It'll just stress you out.