Now is a time where health is on our minds, but more in a fearful way. I wanted to share a portion of my book that may help motivate people who have difficulty taking control of their health in a proactive, preventative way. Enjoy!
Imagine this scenario. You go to your health practitioner’s office to get the results of your recent health screening. Your practitioner shows you the lab results. The numbers for cholesterol, blood sugar (glucose), triglycerides, and blood pressure are all in the red zone. You look into the glaring eyes of your practitioner while they lecture you about the need to exercise more and eat better. You walk out of the office clutching your results, which foretell nothing but doom, and you don’t have a clue what to do next.
Now imagine taking care of your body and mind in the way that you know you should. Imagine your confidence to make changes that feel healthy and energizing. Imagine pride in your ability to master new lifestyle choices and to leave behind the feeling of defeat that comes with breaking another New Year’s resolution. Imagine you have cleared away those negative,
self-defeating thoughts and exchanged them for “I can do this!”
Anyone—yes that includes you—can succeed at improving lifestyle habits.
That first scenario is not unusual. It is happening all over America. I see it all the time. People make choices that limit their life span, result in high medical bills, make them look and feel older than their years, set a poor example for their children and grandchildren, and hinder their relationships because they don’t have the energy to be intimate with their partner or play with their kids and grandkids. They may have tried (or they’ve been told in no uncertain terms by their physician) to make lifestyle changes, but they end up feeling like a failure, feeling powerless, or feeling hopeless. That failure happens when people try to make changes without understanding what will make those lifestyle stick.
This book is about making lasting lifestyle change easy and fun.
And if you put down this book right now? An angry doctor and family await you. But the impact doesn’t stop there. The implications for our society are a needless continuation of the increase in medical care costs. Ideally, we can limit the onset of chronic illness until the end of life, but we currently see health beginning to decline as early as age forty. I, personally, am concerned about the health of future generations, because poor diet impacts the genetic material that our children inherit. Author Stephen G. Aldana, in his book Culture Clash: How We Win the Battle for Better Health (Aldana 2013) describes the fact that government won’t come to our rescue and that each of us in our society must create our own island of health.
This book is for you if you are one of the 133 million Americans (one out of every two adults) with a chronic illness (heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, or arthritis). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports those illnesses as “among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the U.S.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014). This book focuses primarily on healthy eating and exercise, but the concepts apply also to tobacco cessation, stress management, and any other behavior that can rob you of your health.
If you are well read in issues about food and health, you may find this information simplistic—although, being well-read does not guarantee a healthy lifestyle, as illustrated in the case study below. If you are expecting to learn about the latest diet trend or newest miracle product, you will be disappointed. I don’t believe that one berry holds the magic power to make your life perfect. This is a compilation of good, old- fashioned common sense. If weight has been an ongoing issue for you, you may want to read the chapter on Realistic Thinking first and, in particular, the ABCD thinking. But if you have an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, or a true food addiction, I recommend you seek personalized, professional help beyond the scope of this book.
June frequently read every book she could find on food, with particular attention to the current diet craze. She would devour a book in a single day. She was concerned about eating dairy and about the quality of basic foods, so she avoided them out of confusion and concern. As a teenager, she had a history of bulimia. Her weight as an adult was about three hundred pounds. Despite being well read and focused on quality, she frequently ate fast food from drive-through restaurants, blaming her lack of time. She had plenty of head knowledge and abundant conflicting opinions about what she should do for her health, but she was not in touch with what really drove her behavior and her health choices.
DO NOT change the way you are eating or begin an exercise routine…yet! Maybe that’s just what you want to hear, and you are thinking that this is the best health plan ever. But do not be like so many people who have tried and failed by jumping ahead. What follows are nine steps to make a successful lifestyle change. Do not pass GO until you have completed at least the first three steps in order. These steps form the foundation for your success. The organ to first start exercising is your brain. If you’ve been saying, “I can’t,” then you are right—you can’t. But, if you say, “I can,” then you will be right again—YOU CAN. Then you will see what it is like to feel healthy and inspired.
“My parents don’t take care of themselves, so I have to take them to countless doctor appointments,” says one of my contacts. I have talked with friends and clients who watch their parents make choices that leave them in poor health, leaving their children to handle the consequences.
What kind of toll does it take on us and others when our loved ones make unhealthy choices? How many of us have worried, watching a loved one commit slow suicide from poor decisions? Or are you the loved one who causes concern for those who care about you?
My friend has had cancer multiple times. She made significant changes in her lifestyle and is alive and thriving thirty years later. She told me that a woman with cancer said to her, “If I had to eat healthy like you, I would rather die.” As it happened, die she did. What fueled that woman’s decision? How did her family feel watching that decision play out? Why did she feel so powerless to make life-promoting changes?