While India is ranked amongst the skinniest nations in the world (as a large percentage of people cannot afford food), there is no doubt we are getting fatter and unhealthier.
This is especially true of an average adult in urban India, who combines the stress of work with junk food and with sedentary lifestyle, all of which makes for a lethal combination.
Now, many people erroneously suggest that education is the answer to achieving good health. Really?
In 2014, we have more education, information, awareness, policies, programs and getting-in-shape resolutions, than any other time in history. But the fact is that in 2014, more people reading this would get weightier, and unhealthier.
The simple reason you see more young people visiting doctors and hospitals is – we have created a lifestyle that is unsustainable.
While being busy in meeting our work and money targets, we’ve thrown “activity” out of our lives, and have replaced it with “convenience”.
- Eat conveniently – fried, fatty, sweet, and salty stuff is selling faster than fresh, natural, and healthy food.
- Travel conveniently – Why worry taking the steps or walking small distances when you can take the elevator or the car!
- Live conveniently – Forget televisions, even our homes can now be controlled by remotes and thus there’s no need to move around switching on the AC or switching off the lights.
Most of us have fully given in to the India growth story and are working hard to create our own, a good night’s sleep be damned!
The sad truth is that the lifestyle we, as a population, have chosen to live will kill far more of us than wars and terrorism over the next quarter century.
Now the best part of this grave problem we are staring at is that the solution lies within us.
Charlie Munger said…
A lot of success in life and business comes from knowing what you want to avoid: early death, a bad marriage etc.
So, it’s important to know what you want to avoid in life. The ‘rule of inversion’ is, after all, a powerful force that can drive us into avoiding things that could kill us – sugar, salt, caffeine, nicotine, or the ‘kick’ from quick stock market returns.
It’s Not about Dying
Karl Pillemer, a professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University, runs the Legacy Project that he began in 2004, when he started collecting the practical advice for living of America’s elders.
Using a number of different methods, he has systematically gathered nearly 1,500 responses to the question – “What are the most important lessons you have learned over the course of your life?”
Here is how one of his respondents answered this question with respect to health – It’s not dying you should worry about — it’s chronic disease.
This insight — that we should motivate ourselves to healthy behaviour based on the threat of chronic illness, and not of dying — can be a powerful motivator for behaviour change. Here’s why.
When people engage in a bad health habit, they try to justify it by talking about dying.
So, if you talk to those who are obese, or smokers, or non-exercisers, they would tell you that “No one lives forever”.
“If it just cuts 5 minutes of my life, it’s worth it to me,” a friend told me when I asked him to drop the cigarette habit a few years back.
This perspective is all wrong, I believe. As older people know first-hand, the biggest penalty for bad health habits isn’t an early death. What you are likely to be in for is years of chronic disease(s).
And like I am seeing in so many families I know around me, chronic diseases have the ability to destroy even the best-laid out financial plans. Constant visits to the doctors can take away all your savings that you may be creating for your retirement and kids.
Forget the money part, what purpose does life have if you lose it to bad health instead of seeing your kids grow up?
You see, what you do NOW for your health is critically important for your future. As an elderly gentleman in my society tells me often, what should really motivate you is not how long you live, but how well you are going to live.
“Your body may need to last you at least 80 years — so live that way,” he told me in one of our morning walks.
An Excel to Save Your Life
My study of Munger’s teachings over the past few years has led me to this belief that a majority of us are always barking up the wrong tree when it comes to achieving success in life.
So, if we are trying to lose weight, increase fitness, improve our health or transform our bodies, we are focusing only on our bodies, which is the wrong tree.
The truth is that mastering your body is an automatic by-product of mastering your mind and your emotions.
Having proper diets, buying the best running shoes, gym memberships, or pedometers and treadmills are not the issues.
When it comes to creating forever results in my world and my body, I am the issue, I am the problem, and I am the solution.
The same goes for you.
Your health and your body is a by-product of your thinking, decisions, behaviours and habits.
For the most part, the body you currently reside in has a little to do with what you have been given genetically, and a lot to do with what you have done with what you have been given.
In order to know if you have really damaged your body, or are heading towards disaster, it’s important to know where your key health parameters stand.
And to do that, you must get a few basic health tests done on a periodic basis and maintain a record of where those parameters are headed.
I maintain this basic excel spreadsheet and update it whenever I get a new test done. Except the “good health targets”, all other numbers are for representation purpose only.
I suggest you must get yourself checked for these basic parameters at least once every year – starting now. Then, print your updated sheet and paste in front of your work-desk so that it serves as a constant reminder of your good or bad heath.
This spreadsheet or any such resource, like your diet and weight-loss plans, will serve you no purpose if you don’t really make good health a priority and a habit.
But it will serve you a constant reminder of whether you are mistreating your body for long enough so that something’s gonna break. Maybe, forever. 🙁
Please Pay Attention
For most of us (not all), conditions like hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and lung cancer are largely, if not, totally self-inflicted.
For years, most of us would ignore the weight-gain, the shortness of breath, the exhaustion, the pain and a myriad of other signs and symptoms while waiting for the mythical ‘right time’ to take care of our physical selves.
Such a stupid plan, yet so popular!
Dear friend, please pay attention to your health NOW. It matters…much-much more than your wealth.
And always remember – Your body is not the problem, it’s the consequence.
Bonus Resource: See this PDF document to know what exactly goes wrong in our bodies when we live a sedentary life by parking ourselves to our chairs or couches for nearly eight hours per day. One more page to print and paste in front of your work-desk!