Embracing playing by the rules

When it comes to rules most people can be placed into one of three categories.  Group one are those who like rules and find that they are beneficial, helpful, bring structure, provide safety, etc.  Group two are those who don’t like rules and feel that they are restrictive, intrusive, not applicable, etc.  Group three people are kind of a middle ground in that they recognize that they may not like the rules, didn’t make the rules themselves, but also understand that they have to play by the rules.  So lets think of a few rules that we all know about, things like speed limits, the golden rule, no hands in soccer unless you are the goalie, etc.  But think about this for a minute, what would a sporting event be without rules.  Imagine going to a football game where the players run out of bounds, kick the ball randomly, throw the ball back and forth constantly, put too many players on the field at one time, etc.  I am willing to bet that fans wouldn’t enjoy the game as much as they do currently with the rules providing a level playing field, and referees tasked with the role of unbiased enforcement of the rules to the best of their ability.  So we should all agree that rules are good.

So now that I got you thinking, “where is he going with this? and what does this have to do with health?”    Lets switch gears.  Group one folks will love to know that our health, for the most part, can be based on the rules we follow; good or bad.  Yes, our body likes to go to bed every day at the same time, wake up at the same time, eat meals at the same time, and exercise at the same time.  Our body operates to its peak performance with simple rules that state we need proper nourishment, for fuel, repair, hormones, and more.  There really is no going around the fact that these simple rules are what is necessary for optimal health.  There are no special supplements, drugs, home remedies, or special work outs to cheat the fact that we have to put time and money into developing, and executing, rules to live by.  Recently, however the FDA has approved a new device that its critics have stated “the device is an enabling device, not a helping device.”

The device is intended for obese people at least 22 years old who have not been able to loose weight through other approaches, excluding surgery.  The device allows patients to suck out about 30% of the food they just consumed, before calories are absorbed into the body.  What they do is implant a tube into your stomach which is connected to a valve at the skin.  About 20-30min after a meal the patient will go to the restroom and connect an external apparatus and open the valve and allow their food to drain into the toilet.  They will flush water back into the stomach and repeat for a second drainage. The FDA approved this device after reviewing a study that showed patients using the device for 1 year lost an average of 12.1% of body weight while the control lost 3.6%.  Please consider that 12% weight loss in 1 year is not really that much, and secondly that the study didn’t mention what kind of weight was lost.  Was it fat?  Was it muscle?  Was it water?  The FDA warns of side effects including “occasional indigestion, nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea” as well as side effects from the placement of the tube such as sore throats to bleeding, pneumonia, and irritations around the valve.  Again critics are concerned that in reality patients will eat what ever they want and just suck it out.  Who thinks this is the most appropriate solution for this problem? 

But lets think more deeply about what is going on here.  I don’t want to sound too callused, but in short, people often are not taking responsibility for their own health, for their own choices.  I have a choice, you have a choice, every day, what I eat, what I drink, who I talk to, how I spend my money, etc.  Americans are looking for an external solution for an internal problem.  The reason why many of these programs, surgeries, drugs, and supplements fail is because we are taking the same person, with the same thinking, same values, same will power, same weaknesses, same emotions, same support system, and putting them into different programs.  Truth is these individual need to change their insides before they can expect to see long lasting changes on the outside.  Our mind, emotions, environment, habits, values, morals, purpose, strengths, and weaknesses will dictate what choices we make. 

A few health rules to live by to get you started:

  • No Trans fats
  • No food additives
  • No GMO food
  • No artificial food coloring
  • No added sweeteners
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Set a bed time and a wake up time
  • Get about 8 hours of sleep
  • Chew your food thoroughly
  • Plan you meal times
  • Food prep
  • Participate in some amount of activity daily
  • No sugary drinks
  • Buy organic
  • Decrease stress
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Stop eating foods that are not tolerated well (it surprises me how many patients continue to eat dairy who are lactose intolerance)

I was speaking to another doctor this past week and we got to discussing the rules of health that we both personally live by.  He went on further to share that he and his wife are just about to the point they don’t like to take vacations much anymore because it gets them so far off track.  Disrupting their sleeping habits, their exercise routines, their eating habits, their supplement habits, and that by the time they get to the end of their trip they feel lethargic, more brain fog, weaker, less restful sleep, and generally less healthy.  The take away message here is that we all need to establish rules for our health that we live by.  Think about these questions:  How bad do you want to be healthy, feel your best, balance your blood sugar, have mental clarity, increase your functional ability?  What rules do you need to establish and live by to increase your health?  Who is knowledgeable enough to help you choose which rules to implement and how?  What support structure do you need to help you with these new health rules?  What emotions could be holding you back from succeeding in your new health rules?  What do you value the most?  Is your health a top priority worthy of investing your time and money into?  Look, our goal is not to try to live for ever, God knows the number of our days, but what we want to do is to add life to your years in your later years.

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