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We live in a fast-paced, rapidly changing society where unhealthy habits easily become the norm. Lifestyle has become the number one "disease" threatening Americans today-and there are no drugs or surgeries to cure it.
IN THIS CHAPTER YOU WILL:
Discover eight timeless, scientifically proven principles that will revolutionize your life.
Learn what you need to know about the new number one killer in America today.
Find out how to add ten more good years to your life.
Finding Your Breakthrough
As I see it, every day you do one of two things: build health or produce disease in yourself.
How many times have you read the "ideal" book about health and healing, only to discover its program is so far beyond the reach of your daily demands that you can never attain it? You love the exercise routine advertised on television that makes you buff and trim, but $500 later you realize that the new routine won't fit into your already packed schedule.
I've bought more than my fair share of those TV fitness products. In fact, at one time or another I feel like I've owned them all: ab-rollers, steppers, jump ropes, weights, bikes, books,and videos. One time I even bought something called a Gazelle, which is a modified rowing machine. My girlfriend and I went in on it together. It stayed in the box for over a month before we finally assembled it. After that we never used it. The only thing that became trimmer in that deal was my checkbook. The Gazelle became a standing joke because we knew neither of us would ever look like one.
We've all heard about fad diets, extreme makeovers, and get-slim-quick schemes. We've tried crash diets, liquid diets, low-calorie diets, high-protein diets, and everything in between. But in order to succeed we must know what it is we're searching for. Good health is more than simply dropping a few pounds. To offset the effects of how we live we can no longer entertain short-term fixes; we need a comprehensive and lasting breakthrough to health. That's why this book is about more than an exercise program or diet plan. It's about how to get the most out of life.
In this book I want to help you celebrate life fully, to discover your own tremendous power to make life-changing choices. I want to guide you through a powerful program to help increase your vitality, lengthen your life, and supercharge your health. I want to help you move from a health breakdown to a health breakthrough.
But before we talk solutions, let's understand the problem.
All too often we find ourselves anxious, stretched, and prone to neglect our most important asset-our health. We may think our current condition is only temporary and that things will change eventually, but for too many of us that time never comes. In some cases, neglecting a healthy lifestyle for years can lead to serious consequences.
That's exactly where Greg found himself.
After owning two businesses for more than twenty years, Greg rarely felt at rest or at peace. No matter the time of day or the day of the week, it seemed like there was always something that needed to be done. So he did it. Greg lived life under constant pressure. He was a hard worker, his employees gave him that. But his long hours and constant worries often left him irritable and short-tempered with his staff.
Due to the sustained level of stress in his life, Greg frequently had trouble sleeping. And even when he could sleep it was only for four to six hours at a time. Coffee and caffeinated soft drinks kept him going the rest of the day. Greg tried to get away from work from time to time to unwind, but while away he spent most of his time worrying about all the things he needed to do.
His family life suffered as well. After going through two divorces Greg started to think he wasn't cut out for relationships. He began holding people at a distance. His own children found him growing increasingly aloof. They couldn't even convince him to attend church with them at Christmas or Easter. Because he spent so much time at work, he had few friends, and, truth be told, he didn't worry much about it.
Greg never really got the hang of cooking. Most meals consisted of fast food or what came out of vending machines at work. His days were so long he never even considered exercise. In fact, he liked to joke that the most exercise he got was taking the trash to the curb twice a week. When extra pounds started gathering around his middle it bugged him. But he took solace in the fact that the same was true for many of his buddies. "A sign of maturity," he said. The extra weight made him feel sluggish during the day, especially in the afternoon. But the worst part of his weariness was how it affected his immune system. Greg started to pick up any sickness or virus that blew through town.
As a result of his lifestyle choices Greg was in poor health and was headed for a breakdown. It wasn't that he didn't want to make some changes in his life, it just seemed like he never had the time to consider them.
With his fiftieth birthday approaching, Greg convinced himself to start the year on the right foot. He scheduled an appointment with a physician at Florida Hospital for his "annual" physical exam (something he hadn't done in years), vowing that this year things were going to be different. After a series of tests the doctor came back with shocking news.
Before I tell you the rest of Greg's story I want to pause for just a moment. Do you know anyone like Greg? I don't mean exactly like Greg, but do you know people whose lives seems so busy or stressed that they have no time to care for their health? Maybe someone whose consistently poor lifestyle choices are contributing to low energy, an irritable attitude, and poor health? Are there some elements of Greg's story you can identify with yourself? Maybe you've wanted to make some lifestyle changes, but they just don't "stick," and before long you found yourself back in the same old unhealthy habits again. If so, you're not alone.
We are living too short and dying too long.
DR. MYRON WENTZ
As a nation, we face a significant problem. On the one hand, each of us is the beneficiary of never-before-imagined technological and medical advances, and yet, despite the scores of research, treatment, and explosive technology gains, we remain as unhealthy as ever. In fact, the top three causes of death in America today-heart disease, cancer, and stroke-remain unchanged. And all three are diseases largely related to how we live. But it hasn't always been this way, and for you it certainly doesn't have to be that way.
Living Inside Out
If you had been born 150 years ago, the thing most likely to kill you was an infectious disease. The four leading causes of death in the United States at that time were pneumonia, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and influenza-diseases that attacked the body from the outside.
With the advances in antibiotics, vaccines, and public health practices toward the end of the twentieth century, deaths due to infectious diseases declined dramatically. Today the diseases most likely to kill you are related to your lifestyle choices. The leading killers today are chronically debilitating diseases: coronary artery disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure-diseases birthed from within our bodies. We are literally dying from the inside out. We're dying because of how we live.
Our lifestyles are the foundation of our most devastating and threatening illnesses. The number one cause of preventable death is cigarette smoking. Obesity runs a close second and will soon overtake smoking as the leading cause of preventable death.
Most cancers as well as heart disease are also related to lifestyle factors-primarily poor nutrition and lack of exercise. And yet the consequences of our choices go far beyond obesity, cancer, or heart disease. Illness starts deep on the inside where we can't see it, well before we ever see it evidenced on the outside. The pace of our living, the desire to achieve, the lack of satisfaction, technological advances that constantly bombard our senses, the perceived lack of time to rest and relax-all have created a different type of illness that affects not only our food choices and whether or not we exercise; it robs us of our vitality and our joy.
The Lifestyle Disease
Millions of people are suffering today from a condition I call the Lifestyle Disease. A simple definition:
The Lifestyle Disease is characterized by a group of harmful behaviors practiced over time, which result in a decreased quality of life and ultimately the onset of chronic illness leading to premature death.
These behaviors may include:
Poor eating habits
Little or no physical exercise
Lack of sufficient or fulfilling sleep
Sustained exposure to unbuffered stress
Participating in high-risk behaviors such as smoking or drug use
Minimal or no personal playtime or time for solitude
Limited family or meaningful relationship time
Lack of spiritual connection
At the root of the lifestyle disease is a frenzied rhythm of overdrive. Even if you don't consider yourself "ambitious," whether or not you decide you "want it all," our modern society demands that you pick up the pace. We're constantly asked to do more in less time. And unless we choose to intentionally slow down and experience what's most important in our lives, turbo becomes our natural setting. It becomes our lifestyle, and we adopt compensating, harmful behaviors to survive. Our time is short so we don't exercise, get enough sleep, eat healthfully, or deepen our relationships. We get cranky and irritable, and make more poor choices.
The results of these poor lifestyle choices are twofold. First, the quality of life is decreased. Each day this group of harmful behaviors drains our vitality. Second, the effect of these behaviors practiced over time develops into chronic illness and often premature death. Medications and devices simply cannot correct all of the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle.
Though I'm grateful for the medical community and its ability to step in during crisis moments to ease pain and prolong life, I want you to understand the other half of the story: in large part the quantity and the quality of living is up to you. How you live affects how long you live and how healthy you live. And starting now, you can begin applying the principles and plan in this book to change how you live and help you achieve your breakthrough.
He who enjoys good health is rich, though he knows it not.
To better understand what I mean by a health breakthrough, let's take a closer look at the word "life" itself. From the Greek language we find two words, which translate into the English word "life." The first word, bios, means "physical life." This where we get our word "biology." It refers to all the cells and chemicals working together so our bodies don't die; in other words, "the physical state of being." Much of our attention and money is spent focusing on bios. Still, we know life encompasses much more than merely surviving or caring for this body. We are designed for much more. We must consider the element of life that reaches beyond survival.
"The answer we're looking for," writes Bill Ewing in his book Rest Assured, "is found in the other Greek word for life-zöe-a word which carries a much deeper and mystical meaning than bios. Zöe speaks of that life which reaches beyond the physical and is found at the core of who we are. It is the internal motivator that keeps us pushing forward each day. It is what we use to define who we are, why we do what we do, and why we have value. Zöe life is what makes our biological bios Me worth living, giving us direction, vision, purpose," otherwise known as full, abundant health.
Now that we know the full definition of what it is we're looking for, we can ask the question, "Why do so many fitness and health plans fail?" Forgetting our internal motivator-our desire for zöe life-most other programs focus only on external bios needs. If you're confused about all the different health plans available, be encouraged. You are holding the guide to the health breakthrough you've been searching for.
I want to share a health plan with you as natural as breathing. If you follow it, your vitality will increase, your spirits will be lifted, your relationships will be more vibrant, and you'll reverse the course of the Lifestyle Disease.
ADD LIFE TO YOUR YEARS AND YEARS TO YOUR LIFE
Recently National Geographic published the results of a study conducted with three groups of people who live significantly longer lives. For the cover story, writer Dan Buettner interviewed more than fifty centenarians (men and women one hundred years of age or better). The article, entitled "The Secrets of Long Life," focused on longevity all-stars from three groups: mountain villagers in Sardinia, Italy; Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California; and island dwellers in Okinawa, Japan.
According to the article, all three of these groups "produce a high rate of centenarians who suffer a fraction of the diseases that commonly kill people in other parts of the developed world, and enjoy more healthy years of life. In sum, they offer three sets of 'best practices' to emulate." What are these best practices? The key habits practiced by all three groups include: putting family first, being active every day, no smoking, eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and keeping socially engaged. Buettner notes, "A long, healthy life is no accident. It begins with good genes, but it also depends on good habits. If you adopt the right lifestyle, experts say, chances are you may live up to a decade longer."
Safeguard the health of both body and soul.
"As a scientist," says Dean Ornish, MD, "I live in a world of data, numbers, and randomized controlled clinical trials. Scientists believe what can be measured-blood pressures, cholesterol, blood flow . . . while anecdotal evidence-in other words, stories-is viewed with suspicion." I would have to agree. Though this is true in the professional world, it is only half of the picture. Ornish continues, "As a physician and as a human being, I live in a world of stories. Our lives are unique, yet in the telling of stories we learn what makes us similar, what connects us all, what helps us transcend the isolation that separates us from each other and from ourselves."
Principles from the Garden
I love Ornish's quote, because it lends truth as we turn to one of the best-known stories that connects us all ... the Creation story. Found in the first three chapters of the book of Genesis-the Book of Beginnings-this story is valued by three of the world's largest faiths (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) as revealing the origins of mankind. According to the story, the Creator formed the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. Part of his Creation plan included the planting of a garden where the first man and woman would live. This garden home was named Eden. Paradise.
The Garden of Eden story itself is quite brief, yet in its three short chapters we find powerful principles given by a Creator who fashioned an ideal setting for all living creatures. It's in this environment that the first human beings were meant not only to survive, but to thrive.
Excerpted from The Creation Health Breakthrough by Monica Reed Donna K. Wallace Copyright © 2007 by Monica Reed. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted January 16, 2013
Posted January 27, 2010
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