Tuesday, October 30, 2012
There’s been a lot of talk in the media lately about “HealthCare Reform”. And no matter how well intentioned the proponents may be, I believe their attention is still focused on the wrong end of the problem, the “symptoms”.
The current health care system is overloaded in its attempts to treat the tidal wave of seemingly unrelated “diseases” (I believe “symptoms”) including but not limited to Heart Disease, High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, Heart Attacks, Strokes, Kidney and Liver Damage, Diabetes, many Cancers, Sleep Disorders, Depression, Arthritis, Artery Disease, Allergies, and of course Obesity. These are also the “diseases” that contribute most to Doctor (and specialists) visits, non-accident related trips to the emergency room, hospital stays, prescription (symptom treatment) expenses, and the overall high cost of health care recently estimated at $190,000,000,000 annually!
The “blame” for these diseases is now being placed primarily on the scary fact that currently 3 out of every 4 (over 70%) adult Americans are now either overweight or obese! And even though those numbers are accurate, I believe that in most cases the diseases listed above, even Obesity, are actually “symptoms”, created by our current lifestyle choices, and the natural outcome of becoming less and less active while making more and more unhealthy food (“fuel”) choices.
It seems that for most of us things were going along pretty well until one day we caught a glimpse of our reflection in a store window, ran out of holes in our belt, stepped on the Doctors’ scales, or had our Doctor tell us if we don’t do something different, and soon, things aren’t looking very good for a long and disease free life for us.
What happened? How did we get in such bad shape and not even notice?
For most it happened subtly as we gained easier access to “labor-saving” devices and were introduced to “entertainment” allowing us to become more “observers” than active participants in life. On top of becoming less and less active, we were introduced to easier and faster access to higher calorie (lower quality) “foods” at cheaper prices. That combination results in a pretty simple to understand equation: fewer calories out, plus more calories in, equals more calories stored. Since the body never wastes calories (“fuel”), every calorie without a current purpose is converted to fat and stored in our very non-favorite storage tank places (hips, thighs, and bellies). And the outcome of that simple equation has now surpassed smoking as the leading cause of death in the United States!
Okay, so that’s the “bad news”. Is there any Good News? Absolutely! The Good News is that we don’t have to wait for the government or some other group of health care “experts” to come to our rescue! The prevention, or a very real reduction, of our risks of getting any or all of those diseases listed above, as well as the ability to undo many of the “diseases” that you may already have, is totally within our very own control, starting right now!
Becoming healthier and fitter is not however about an all out attack on our bodies, as if they were our enemy! Like it or not our bodies have dutifully done what we “taught” them to do (though usually not consciously), and will also do what we teach them to do for us now to become healthier, stronger, more youthful, and full of life!
Start by becoming more active than you currently are, but go easy on yourself and start where you are…if you haven’t exercised in years (or ever) don’t expect yourself to become a body-builder, marathon runner, magazine cover model, or drop 50 pounds overnight…“baby-steps” are still steps!
Find an exercise or walking buddy, get a workout video, buy fitness magazines, take advantage of the virtually limitless resources on the internet by “googling” exercise, fitness, and healthy food choices.
As for healthier eating, most of us already have a pretty good idea of the foods we need to avoid or totally cut out, including sweets, “white foods”(sugar, white breads, rice, pasta, etc), fried foods, over processed foods, foods high in fat, etc. If you tend to “crave” a food, then that’s probably something you can live (longer) without, so start there!
Most folks find that seeking the advice of Health and Fitness Professionals (Certified Personal Trainers, Dieticians, your Physician, etc), especially when dealing with any current health and structural challenges, is very helpful. Also, if it’s in your budget, making a (financial) commitment to join a fitness facility gives many individuals additional incentive to help them stick with it longer, thereby increasing the likelihood they will reach their health and fitness goals.
The main thing is to get started, now, where you are, taking control of your life choices… don’t wait for the “government” or others to come rescue you…it’s your life, your gift, to enjoy and share!
Disclaimer: Always check with your Doctor before beginning or restarting any health and fitness program.
Bobby Morrow is a Certified Personal Trainer (with over 7 years experience), Corrective Exercise Specialist, and National Spokesman for the American Council on Exercise. Bobby works out of The Forum Fitness Center in Lexington, NC and focuses on helping folks that are new to fitness, and those coming to fitness with health and/or structural issues. Bobby can be contacted at The Forum, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.