I just finished watching the local news, which was reporting sensationally on the health of women in the US. Note: 12 states failed, and no state excelled. We’re not surprised, right? They noted that the states doing particularly poorly were those who did not have any legislation about health, or any promotional or educational campaigns aiming to teach women about what to do to become healthier. They were also quick to point out that the amount of binge drinking among women has increased significantly over the last 10 years as well, but that smoking rates have decreased, and diagnostics and screening tests (i.e. mammograms, etc) have significantly increased.
What do I think you should take away from this? Well, you can forget any statistics you know. Then lessen your personal focus on the recommendations for legislation. Next, forget placing all the praise on increased screening.
Then…go eat some vegetables and go for a walk.
In health education courses, students learn that there are different types of prevention: primary (lifestyle), secondary (screening/early detection), and tertiary (treatment). I really don’t mean to minimize the importance of screening or legislation/education in our country. However, why did the news report not talk about how to not have the issues in the first place? I think the foundational answer to this is that, as a nation, we still haven’t taken full responsibility for our health. In my classes, I teach that 25% of our health outcomes come from genetics. That means that the other 75% is controllable to a certain degree (I don’t think we have 100% control over environmental toxins, etc).
What if we all just admitted this? What if we took 100% responsibility for how we feel right now and admitted that we’re not really victims.
I like to think that I strike a good balance with my clients when it comes to tough love and empowerment. A client may tell me about what is not fair or how she is doomed in her health, what bad hand she’s been dealt, or how she can’t help it that her job is stressful. And she feels really right about that, but most times when it looks like there’s a wall in front of you, that is a self-imposed wall.
All of us have our stuff to deal with. How do you thrive even in the shadow of your stuff?
Work on taking responsibility for your health, and then look at your stuff again. It changes.