When “Sorry” Doesn’t Help

When “Sorry” Doesn’t Help

When I was a child, I would occasionally do something I wasn’t supposed to. (“Oh, no, NOT Dr. Myatt!” I can hear you thinking 🙂 Sometimes when I would apologize, my dad would say “Sorry doesn’t help.” Like the time I deliberately dropped one of my mom’s antique bowls on the lawn to see if it would break (I didn’t think it would). It did. I was confused when dad would say “Sorry doesn’t help,” because I thought that “sorry” was ALWAYS the “cure” for wrongdoing. Now that I’m older (O.K., MUCH older), I understand what he meant.

For all the apologies and “true confessions” I hear in practice, you’d think I was a priest instead of a doctor.

” Oh, Doctor Myatt, I just HAD to eat that food over the holidays. My parents (or children, friends, great-aunt Millie) would have been SO disappointed if I didn’t eat that special cake they baked.” (Yeah, right, like they don’t know you’re a type I diabetic with a kidney transplant).

” I felt sorry for myself so I’ve been eating the wrong foods. Don’t get mad at me.” (I’m not mad— not even angry— with you. Sick people keep me in business).

” I just can’t give up carbohydrates. I’ve got to have my fruit every day.” (Suit yourself. I guess you won’t be giving up your high triglyceride or blood sugar levels then, either).

” I’m sorry. I haven’t taken my supplements like you told me to. That between-meal dose is just so hard to remember.” (Gosh, seems like every time you practically cough up a lung you’d remember that you’re supposed to take bromelain for your chest congestion).

” I’m too busy to take my supplements four times a day. You just don’t understand.” (You’re right; I’m not busy. I sit at home all day and listen to “true confessions”).

I forgive you, each and every one, for falling off the diet wagon, failing to get sufficient sleep or exercise, not taking your supplements. I forgive you for eating junk food, smoking, skipping breakfast and not practicing sensible stress reduction habits. In fact, I can forgive you indefinitely. The problem is, MY forgiveness doesn’t help you, and all the “sorry” in the world doesn’t either. Your body is generous, but not nearly so much as I am.

Would you apologize to your car if you let it run out of gas? And if you did, would that help? Not one bit. You’d still have to put gas in the tank to get it going again. Fortunately, running out of gas won’t ruin your car, just like skipping a meal or one night’s good sleep won’t ruin your body. But what if you run out of oil in your car? The oil lubricates the bearings and cylinder walls so the pistons slide up and down. Running out of oil while driving is almost always fatal to the engine. The motor seizes and you are sunk. Adding oil at this point doesn’t help. Neither does saying “I’m sorry” to your car for failing to add oil. Past a “point of no return” like this, sorry doesn’t help.

Your physical body needs what it needs: nutrients, air, water, sleep, sunshine. If you miss out on any of these for too long, you will feel the inevitable effects. An occasional “running out of gas,” like skipping your supplements for a day or two, or blowing your healthy diet once in a while, won’t “make or break” you. The problem is, many people are breaking the “health rules” far more than this. Lack of nutrients, exercise, sleep and healthy food has negative effects on the body that are cumulative. Although the body can be quite forgiving when we finally get around to giving it the “basics” that it needs, we still endure the effects of our negligence. Sometimes, we pass the point of no return— like running out of oil while driving— and we can’t reclaim health simply by “being good” and being sorry.

It’s not too late to quite smoking after you have lung cancer. Studies show that this measure will still prolong your survival time. But you WILL almost certainly die from lung cancer, which is still largely incurable at this time. Sorry won’t help.

Heart disease can be greatly aided and often completely reversed by corrective diet, exercise and nutritional supplementation. It’s never too late to help your heart. The problem is that many people don’t get a chance to make amends. Fifty percent of first heart attacks are also last heart attacks, if you get my drift. Sorry doesn’t help.

A lifetime of insufficient calcium and magnesium can lead to bone mineral loss— osteoporosis. Although bone mineral density can be recouped with proper diet, exercise and natural hormone replacement therapy, many people don’t discover osteoporosis until they’ve broken a hip. If you survive a serious fracture and live to tell about it, corrective measures will help. The problem is, more women die from the health hazards of hip fracture than from breast cancer. A lifetime of nutrient deficiencies can’t always be made up for, and sorry doesn’t help.

Numerous studies document the health benefits of healthful living and good nutrition when done consistently over time. Long-standing intake of calcium decreases the risk of colon cancer and osteoporosis. Adequate intake of B6, B12 and folic acid prevent heart disease, depression and dementia. A lifetime of small but consistent exercise greatly reduces the risk of heart disease and many types of cancer. And please keep in mind this doesn’t mean you need to be a saint. It’s what you do 80% of the time, not what you do 20% of the time, that will determine your long-range health and longevity.

Think about it. Are you eating well, following a nutritionally complete dietary supplement program, getting regular exercise even if modest in amount (10 minutes per day will make a difference), getting adequate sleep and breathing deep of some good air? I’ll forgive you until the cows come home if you’re not doing these things, but your body, which doesn’t understand forgiveness quite like I do, may be another matter. Make those positive changes on a regular basis today, while you still have the opportunity to maintain or reclaim good health. Remember, after the engine seizes, sorry doesn’t help.