Often the reason we don’t reach our health goals is that our problems don’t feel important enough. If we don’t think our problems are serious, we’re not going to take action and get well. Even when we know something is important, we may still have trouble taking action because other priorities seem greater.
Not a Crisis (yet)
We fail because we don’t understand the severity of our risk. Both doctors and patients downplay conditions that are actually very serious. For example, imagine you’re in the office talking to your doctor. They just gave you the bad news that you have high blood pressure and prediabetes. You’re worried, but you’re hopeful the doctor will help.
The only problem is your doctor is under the thumb of a corporate healthcare administrator whose priority is satisfying the shareholders. Your doctor is expected to see as many patients as possible and spend no more than 10 to 13 minutes per patient (seriously). All they can do is put out fires and move quickly to the next patient. Ten minutes is hardly enough time to lay out a genuine plan for your issues. Your situation isn’t a crisis, which means you will get a prescription for your blood pressure, a statin for cholesterol, and some cursory advice to lose some weight. Your task is to fill the prescriptions and make a follow-up appointment in a month to make sure your numbers are okay on the medicine.
But you’re smart, and you know that nutrition, exercise and lifestyle choices must have something to do with your issues. In fact, you’re kind of annoyed because you didn’t get any guidance at all on what to eat, how to exercise, or how to better manage stress. You didn’t learn anything practical at all. Nobody explained what’s CAUSING your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar problems. Now you’re simply expected to take a bunch of medicines…for the rest of your life.
Perhaps you have heard of others who successfully reversed high blood pressure and diabetes by improving their diet and lifestyle. Naturally, you’re wondering whether you could do it too. You imagine getting healthy, fit, and looking great in your clothes (and naked)…but major obstacles are standing between you and your health goals.
Missing Your Window of Opportunity
Unfortunately, the healthcare system itself is a major obstacle, keeping you from reaching your health goals. For example, medical doctors are trained to use terminology that trivializes certain problems, so patients have zero motivation to take action.
Terms like “prediabetes” and “borderline high blood pressure” and “mini-stroke” make me cringe. “Mild heart attack” is another foolish phrase. These misleading terms imply you’re okay, you don’t have a problem when in reality you do. The condition is not borderline. It is diabetes. It is high blood pressure. It is a stroke. It’s a heart attack. However, the condition may not be at a stage where medication or invasive procedures are appropriate.
Even when aggressive treatment is indicated, you will likely be sent home afterward to continue doing what you’ve been doing. In most cases, you’ll be allowed to keep eating the same artery-clogging food and continue the same inflammatory lifestyle choices that cause diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer, and dementia.
If your doctor does NOT prescribe any medicine, you’ll go home thinking this isn’t that serious….“I’m okay. It’s just prediabetes. I don’t have diabetes yet.”
If your doctor DOES prescribe medicine, you could easily become totally passive, believing your medication is handling everything. “I’m okay. All I have to do is take these pills.”
Either way, you are missing your window of opportunity to change your lifestyle habits, change your outcome, and change your LIFE. It doesn’t make sense to create a problem, wait for a crisis, and address it with toxic drugs and invasive procedures. But that’s what we do. In many ways, our health care system looks like a meetup of arsonists and firefighters. You need a better solution.
Proven Health Information
You need evidence-based nutrition and lifestyle information that allows you to understand how your human body works and take control of your health. Information empowers you to take intelligent action to prevent and reverse the most serious chronic diseases.
Research shows us that type 2 diabetes is reversible if addressed in time. [Ref 1]. Science shows the first line treatments for high blood pressure are lifestyle modifications, including healthy nutrition, fitness, and low sodium meals that allow the body to heal itself without medications. [Ref 2]and[Ref 3].
Unfortunately, this is where most people fall down. They get no guidance so they feel overwhelmed by conflicting information. They don’t know where to start.
“How much salt is okay?”
“How much sugar is harmful?”
“What are the risks of eating meat?”
“What about milk?”
It is a steep learning curve to master all of this by yourself. However, you don’t have to wade through all the misinformation on your own. It’s best to work with a professional who will properly educate you on well-researched nutrition and lifestyle habits that allow you to heal yourself.
If you are not reaching your health goals, consider whether you’re underestimating the seriousness of your problems. Consider the possibility that your doctor is inadvertently holding you back. Either way, you’re missing your window of opportunity to get control of your health. Most chronic conditions are preventable and even reversible. Nobody needs to wait for a crisis.
That being said, you have to be ready to change your habits because there is no magic pill. If you want to learn about lifestyle changes and do it right, feel free to reach out to me at Living Health Works. Contact me at [email protected]
Ref 1. Barnard ND, et al. A low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in a randomized control trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2006; 29(8): 1777-83.
Ref 2. Go AS, Bauman MA, et al. An effective approach to high blood pressure control: a science advisory from the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014; 63(12):1230-8.
Ref 3. Obarznek E, et. al. Dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) – sodium trial. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension 2000; New York, NY.
Carla Hightower, MD, MBA is a physician, health coach, workplace wellness consultant, and speaker. She helps people heal themselves with food. Through wellness workshops and courses, she helps companies create healthy, energetic teams.
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