Your Car vs. Your Body

Imagine there are two friends. Harold and Ronald. As newly minted drivers, each decides to buy a car on their 16th birthday. Having similar tastes they both purchase identical cars. They both love their car, and for the first few years of owning it, each is served very well by their respective automobile. The cars have no mechanical issues, and they run great. Then, five years in, things began to happen.

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Ronald’s car breaks down and has to be taken in to the shop.  A year later, Ronald’s car has a tire blow out. A few years after, a few rust spots develop on the body of the car. All this is not too out of the ordinary. In fact, Ronald chalks this all up to “that’s just what happens to cars, things break down, things eventually fall apart”. Not wanting to pay the money to buy a new car, Ronald sticks it out with his current vehicle. As the years go on, things continue to happen to his car a little more frequently, and so do corresponding trips to the mechanic. Sometimes, parts that are worn out need to be replaced with new parts entirely. By the car’s tenth year, some of the things that have gone wrong with Ronald’s car are things he’s decided he can just live with, like the tears in his upholstery, and the weird creaking noise the passenger side door makes. He’s not thrilled about them, but they would be expensive and a hassle to get fixed. By 20 years in, his car is quite a bit slower than it used to be. It looks like a 20 year old car, with some rust spots, scratches, and a few dents. Finally the car breaks down for the last time as Ronald is informed by his mechanic that the issues are just too many to be fixable, and even if he did repair them, the care would barely be running and in danger of breaking down again at anytime. Ronald is actually quite pleased with his experience with this car. Sure, it had some issues, and near the end it sort of just puttered him around, but so does every car that old. He got 25 years out of it, and he considers that a pretty good run. Until he runs into his high school friend Harold…

Ronald's car, 25 years later.
Ronald's car, 25 years later.

Harold has had a decidedly different experience with his car, as is apparent when Ronald sees that Harold’s car still looks brand new, 25 years later! Ronald assumes that this car must have just been kept in storage, but not so. In fact, Harold’s shining vehicle has almost double the miles that Ronald’s run down counterpart does. Ronald asks Harold what his secret is! What did he do to keep his car looking like this. Clearly he must have spent a fortune to maintain it. Again, Ronald’s assumptions are incorrect, as further examination would show that Ronald has spent more money at the mechanic on his dilapidated vehicle than Harold did on his like-new car. Harold explains that all he did was give his car a little TLC every week. He made sure that he followed the scheduled maintenance protocols. He had it waxed to protect the paint and body. He regularly had his tires rotated. He uses high grade fuels and oils. And he even took a few lessons himself to learn how to be a better driver, thus learning how to maneuver his car in any damaging situations. And while all of these thing did cost Harold money, it wasn’t nearly as much money as Ronald ending up spending for all of his mechanic visits.

Harold's car, 25 years later.
Harold's car, 25 years later.

This allegory of two cars is a perfect example of how our bodies can change. Just like the cars, our bodies will regularly be worn down by our environments. When we’re young without much mileage on our bodies yet, our bodies will usually stay resilient and in great condition. But as we get older, the mileage accumulates. Some of us assume that the things that begin to break down are just part of the gig of getting older. And occasionally we can even pay for expensive procedures to patch things up (plastic surgery, joint replacements). But often, especially in the absence of exact trauma, these maladies are avoidable. A regular, proactive approach can prevent these pathologies before they start. And the good news is that it doesn’t take much. 10 minutes a day to maintain your body’s alignment in infrastructure. A couple hours a week to challenge the muscular and cardiovascular system. When you’re efficient with your exercise and mobility selections, and fueling your body with high quality fuel, it doesn’t take much time out of your weekly schedule.

The only place with this allegory fails is when Ronald trades his car in. This is not an option for us as humans. The body we’re given is the only one we have for life. If the first car you ever had was the car you were stuck with for your entire life, how differently would you have cared for it? Now ask yourself why you’re not doing the same with your body.