Let’s talk for a minute about the choices that we make about our health. Why are so many Americans so unhealthy? Even when given a choice of whether or not to be healthy, people often choose to be unhealthy.
Why does this happen? And why is it so common?
I’m not talking about smoking, taking illegal drugs or drinking excessively, everyone knows that stuff is bad. I’m talking about the standard American diet.
I cannot count all of the times that patients have told me, “I feel great when I eat really well and avoid all of things that are bad for me. But I can’t eat that way all the time. No one can expect me to do that! I want to have a life!”
Why not!? Why can’t we eat that way all the time?
Is it peer pressure? Is it advertising? Is it cultural history? Are those foods addictive? Is it in our genes?
There are plenty of excuses, but we seem to equate having a full life with eating sweets, drinking alcohol, and enjoying the pleasures of rich food. And the worse we feel the more we seem to want to do those things.
Why do we equate being healthy with being cheated out of something? We look around for excuses to do what we want to do, and eat what we want to eat. We compare ourselves to others and assume that because someone else appears to be ok eating a poor diet that we should be able to do that too.
This “have our cake and eat it too” philosophy isn’t working, but we keep pretending that it is.
And we’re really good at pretending. It’s fascinating how many Americans love to listen to others talk about health. Just look at daytime TV shows with any number of episodes focused on healthy living.
But we don’t like to engage with those shows too deeply. They don’t ask much of us. We just watch.
Have you ever noticed that we don’t have many call-in radio shows about health? We don’t even have a health section in most newspapers anymore!
We want our health to be entertaining and wrapped up in an unhealthy package. “Don’t get that stuff too close to me,” we seem to say. “It’s all fine as long as I can watch from a distance. Show me someone else who is healthy.”
We like to outsource our health and admire it from afar. We watch professional athletes and actors who are in good shape and we figure, “That’s fine for them. They have the time for that. But you can’t expect me to be healthy with my busy life.”
We also like to marginalize health. “Look at that person. They’re too skinny.” “Exercise? That is way too difficult. It hurts. It takes too much time. I can’t be expected to do that and have a life.”
You might think that we’ve come to terms with our lack of health. But then you turn around and notice that as a culture we spend billions of dollars on our health. We live in fear of losing our health, even though we don’t want to be too healthy. We figure that if all else fails, we can balance out all of our bad behavior by buying back our health.
This leads to an unending parade of services and products supposedly designed to improve our health.
Of course, most of these don’t really solve our problems on anything but a superficial level. But we buy them none-the-less.
Then, to top it all off, when we do decide to be healthy it’s often premeditated to be a temporary endeavor. “I’m going to go on a diet.” “I’m on a diet.” “I’m training for a marathon.” And we do those things for a while, complete them, and then use them as justification for an unhealthy prize at the end.
We are cheating ourselves out of our health. We aren’t really alive in the same way that we’re just living. It’s as if we want to test ourselves by making bad lifestyle decisions in order to feel alive.
But you have a choice. And you are already making it every day. You can choose to be healthy. And you won’t be alone. Many of us are already doing it, and we welcome you.
Please join us!
I urge you to get a healthy life. You’ll feel more alive than you ever have before. Contact my office with questions or if you would like more information about how we help you rethink your approach to your health!