Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Real Healthcare

I want to share something that I read from

Prevention is so much better than healing.

—Thomas Adams

One of my great friends and colleagues, Phil Nuernberger, PhD, a leading expert on stress and how we use our mind, wrote a newsletter article titled ‘‘Getting Rid of the Elephant.’’ He explained that the term health care is being discussed everyday by our politicians, our businesses, and our society at large. Health care costs are rising at an alarming rate, and as he argued, we cannot fix the problem by simply making our health care system more efficient. The cost of treating disease is the ‘‘elephant in the room’’ that must be discussed. Imagine if everyone looked at health care from a new perspective? I personally look at health care as a security blanket, it is there if I need it, but I rarely use it. Having more healthy people should be our goal, not more health care options!

With all that we have learned and all the resources at our disposal, it’s sad to say this is true and only getting worse. Obesity levels are growing extremely fast here in the United States while obesity continues to grow into a major global problem; it even has a new name—Globesity! In 1973 we did not have an obesity problem in the United States; in fact, less than 10 percent of the population was obese. Today, obesity levels have grown to over 30 percent of the population nationwide, and one of the worst statistics of all shows that this obesity rate is still climbing and will continue to climb in years to come. By the year 2020 experts are predicting our entire nation will have more than 35 to 40 percent obesity, and by 2030, we will be looking at 45 percent obesity levels in the United States!

You don’t have to be a math magician to figure out we just can’t afford to keep going down this road of self-destruction. What about genetics, have our genetics changed? What role has genetics played in America’s increasing levels of obesity? One point I want to make crystal clear is that our genetic footprint has not changed over the past 40 to 50 years. In 1970, roughly 500,000 Americans were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and today we have more than 26 million, along with over 50 million prediabetics waiting in the wings! Our kids don’t have a chance if we keep going down this unhealthy path.

Why Are We Moving in an Unhealthy Direction?

In almost every one of my seminars I talk about why we are moving in the wrong direction when it comes to our health. Even with greater advances in medicine, more highly trained health professionals, more medical procedures to choose from medications to choose from, and an overwhelming amount of information on the benefits of proper rest, nutrition, and exercise to keep our bodies healthy, we are doing a lousy job when it comes to managing our health!

It is estimated that more than 175 million Americans now live with at least one chronic disease or disability. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic illness accounts for more than 80 percent of all money spent on health care in the United States. Obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, MS, heart disease, and cancer continue to rise! More than 25 percent of women over the age of 50 have thyroid problems, and poor bone health is a common concern among women. Acid reflux, gluten intolerance, and irritable bowel syndrome are everyday problems for many adults, and over one-third of our children are overweight or obese! It is not a pretty picture and we all need to get into the game! So why are we moving in the wrong direction?

Poor-Quality Food and Beverages

The food environment in which we live has changed dramatically over the past 40 to 50 years. In the mid-1970s we consumed approximately 2,800 calories per person, per day, in the United States. Today we are consuming over 4,100 calories per person. As you can probably guess, we are not consuming more whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, high-quality proteins, and healthy fats. Unfortunately, we are producing (and consuming) unhealthier, refined, nutrient-deficient Junk Food!

Everywhere we turn we are faced with large quantities of cheap, low-quality food and beverages—in airports, vending machines, fast food restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, and schools. This is not just a problem in the United States, but also a global problem as more and more countries adopt our convenient, processed food and beverage mentality. Last year, I traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico, to work with a large cookware company. I was shocked as I was driving through their beautiful city to see all the fast food restaurants; I felt as though I could have been driving through any large city in the United States. It is no accident that Mexico is now ranked number two, second only to the United States, in the world’s leading nations of type 2 diabetics. Sadly, it was less than 10 years ago that Mexico was not even on the radar screen for type 2 diabetes!

We have grown into convenience-food consumers across the globe. In most cases, convenience translates into highly processed, poor-quality food and beverages. As our lives speed up, so does the demand for convenience, fast, available food (actually, I’m not always sure this is truly food). Food and beverage companies are continuing to expand their lines of cheap, low-quality food and beverages. How many energy drinks were on the market 10 years ago? Today there are over 100!

Working multiple grocery stores for over eight years, I learned that almost all grocery stores are set up with the main items people are coming to buy—whole foods like fruits, vegetables, meat—surrounding the entire perimeter of the store. These food items are strategically placed to get you to walk around the entire store. Then, down the center aisles, the big profits lay waiting! Next time you are going down the center aisles of the grocery store, look at the food and beverages offered at the beginning of each aisle. All the best sellers are placed to get you to walk down the aisle, but as consumers become more educated and experience the amazing benefits of eating higher-quality foods and beverages, the demand for better options in the center aisles will increase.

Lack of Movement

The human body is meant to move daily and the benefits are truly amazing, but most people choose not to make time to move their bodies on a daily basis. Less than 25 percent of American adults exercise regularly, and the time we spend being physically active continues to decline. Our kids seldom walk to school or just play outside. They sit in the classroom and then sit behind the computer, video games, television, and cell phones. Physical education classes have been cut from many school systems, and yet if you could put exercise in a bottle it would be the most prescribed medication on the planet! We need to change this, not only for ourselves, but also for the well-being of generations to come.
Poor Information

Many different approaches to nutrition, physical activity, rest and rejuvenation are advocated through popular culture, the media, books, magazines, Internet, friends, and family. This overwhelming environment of information overload leave the consumer in a state of flux and confusion, and even when we want to live healthier lives through better nutrition, exercise, and rest and rejuvenation, it can be extremely difficult to know what path to follow. At times I get confused with all of the mixed messages, and I have been in this business for over 25 years!

Dieting Mentality

When I began working with my publisher, John Wiley & Sons, one of our first conversations was about what this book was to become. I told them I wanted to write a book on performance—being the best you can be! They strongly agreed and also pointed out that they were not interested in having me write a book about dieting, due to the large volume of diet books already on the market—to the tune of 46,000! Over the past 40 to 50 years, hundreds of fad diets and trendy ways to eat, rest, and move, have bombarded Americans and others around the world. New books, magazines, supplements, celebrity testimonials, reality television shows, Internet sensations, and infomercials all bring the promise of instant weight loss and greater fitness. With each empty promise, it’s easy to see why many of us will try any new diet that comes along if the marketing claims are powerful enough.

Your Time Has Arrived

Okay, enough of the gloom and doom. I had to tee it up to help you understand it is ‘‘Go Time’’ for all of us. We are at the tipping point and change needs to happen now! One of my strongest beliefs is how truly amazing the human body is in its ability to heal itself. If you cut your hand it will start to heal itself in just a few days. If you struggle with your weight, have low energy, poor health, or would just like to feel better and be your best, help has arrived! I have seen tremendous life changes in many people in my more than two decades of work in the health and fitness industry, and I would like to help you as well.

A few years ago, Sally Bonta contacted me about doing some one-on-one health and fitness coaching. She had recently moved back to Michigan from California and her sister had referred her to me. In our first meeting, Sally and I went over her health history, her current situation, and, most importantly, her future. At age 57, Sally was on 24 medications—yes, 24! Sally had little energy, her heart was empty, and her eyes were dull. We talked for over an hour, and I truly believed Sally wanted a better life. I explained to her how we would tackle her needs one step at a time and slowly build a solid foundation for better health. Step by step, Sally started making amazing progress and three years later, at age 60, Sally went from 24 medications to just 3! Sally is a new person, with lots of ‘‘juice,’’ and every time I run into her at the health club she makes me smile. Sally has not only improved her fitness and health, but more importantly her mind-set that prevention is her only option and she must be the driver in her journey toward greater well-being!

As a society we all need to start focusing on prevention! Prevention is our only way out and we all need to come together and fight back. Start slowly and help everyone you know take one step towards a healthier lifestyle.

The Bottom Line

We are facing a serious health crisis, not only in the United States, but also around the world.

Over 175 million Americans now live with at least one chronic disease or disability.

Obesity has risen to over 30 percent in the United States and continues to grow worldwide.

We are moving in a very unhealthy direction due to our toxic food environment, lack of movement, poor information, and dieting mentality.

The good news is that the human body is truly amazing in its ability to heal itself.

No comments: