Preventing Chronic Disease
If anyone you know has ever been affected by heart disease, diabetes, certain forms of cancer, hypertension, etc., the science of these chronic diseases is very clear: you can slash up to 90% of the risk (even if you genetically pre-disposed to it) by changing what you do with your feet, forks, and fingers. So says Dr. David Katz, the Director of Yale’s Prevention-Research Center, and a host of the best doctors across the world.
Feet: your movement; exercise level
Forks: what you eat
Fingers: smoker/non-smoker status
It is laughably simple how easy it is to take control of our health destinies by just taking charge of these 3 things. And it is laughably simple how easy it is to make those small changes.
And yet so few of us do them. How can I change that?
This is the question I feel committed to working on for the next 30-50 years.
During my undergrad years, I had little clarity on where I was going with my career. And indeed, the last few years of my life shows a graph where I developed some very specific skills, but the industry changes do not have a perfectly coherent story.
It felt like I was drifting, and it was frustrating. I am not drawn to the idea of working my way up the corporate ladder. Impact, and the interestingness of the work have been far more motivating factors for me. With a few rare exceptions, such work has been eluding.
I resented myself and others for getting their life paths so much earlier than mine. But now, I am only grateful. If I hadn’t stumbled into the barriers, I wouldn’t have uncovered the work I can do for the rest of my life.
Changing what people do with their feet, forks, and fingers is therefore something I can spent the rest of my life doing. I wish to help others be their best selves by taking control of these 3 things.
But if this is indeed so simple, why don’t people do it already?
The Hidden Reason Why We Don’t Change Our Health and Lives
- You don’t have the right information: There is more information out there than ever before. There is also a lot more misinformation, and disinformation out there. People are easily persuaded to do things that aren’t in their best interests long-term. The Paleo Diet, Atkins Diet, etc come to mind. So, people lack the ability to think clearly. This needs to change.
- You don’t have the right motivation: jobs, families, errands, a broken car, etc get in the way of someone from truly taking charge. So many people pull at our attention. It’s hard to get motivated when you get home at night when you’re overwhelmed. So, people lack the ability to take charge of their lives.
- You think it’s hopeless: What’s the point? I’m always going to be ___ (insert story here). This is also very dangerous because it means that you essentially see yourself as incapable of change. This either means that you’ve tried and failed, or you’ve seen others around you try and fail. Deeper down, it means that people don’t know how simple change can be.
This list can be longer. A simpler way of stating the above can be: You and I have weak, flabby muscles of making deliberate choices and following through. You and I have outsourced our thinking to others and doing it ourselves is scary, uncomfortable, and we’re afraid of failing. As a result of giving away our power, we have become powerless and hopeless. To change our lives, we must change this script.
And so, this is the purpose behind a new project I’m working on. While the website is not developed as of August 2016, I will spend significant efforts developing the type of content that can truly help people throw away the script of powerlessness, and embrace deliberate choice. On this website, I hope to empower others to think for themselves and strengthen their mental muscles (as well as outer muscles) to be their best self.
I predict that making these changes will also have ripple effects in finances, business, relationships, not just health. And occasionally, to reflect on personal matters, I will keep writing here as well.
So, where have you failed to create change so far in life? What is the single most important challenge in your life right now?
I’ve love to hear all about it below in the comments section or via email at dpvtank [at] gmail dot com.