Published at October 26th, 2017

Strategies to succeed in fighting chronic disease

We are becoming a sicker and fatter society. With all the knowledge and information that we have access to, why don't we make the choices to be fit and healthy? Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability. Here are some scary statistics as of 2012, and the numbers are even higher today.

  1. About half of all adults, about 117 million people, have one or more chronic health conditions.
  2. One of four adults have two or more chronic health conditions.
  3. Obesity is a serious health concern: During 2009 through 2010, more than one-third of adults, or about 78 million people, were obese (defined as body mass index [BMI] 30 kg/m2).
  4. Nearly one of five youth aged 2 to 19 years was obese (BMI 95th percentile).
  5. In 2011: More than one-third (36 percent) of adolescents said they ate fruit less than once a day, and 38 percent said they ate vegetables less than once a day.
  6. In 2011: 38 percent of adults said they ate fruit less than once a day, and 23 percent said they ate vegetables less than once a day.

Chronic diseases are the biggest challenge to global health. Noncommunicable conditions account for nearly two-thirds of deaths around the globe.

Noncommunicable conditions are conditions like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, and chronic respiratory diseases. These account for nearly two-thirds of deaths globally. In the United States, chronic diseases are the principal causes of health-related suffering, disability, and death, and account for the vast majority of health care expenditures. By 2020 it is projected that 81-million Americans will have multiple chronic health conditions. Did you know that 99 percent of chronic disease management is under your control?

So why don't we make the choices to be fit and healthy? It all starts in our head. We are bombarded with commercials and images everywhere that entice our brains to choose things that aren't the best for us. Indulging in less than healthy choices is okay on occasion, but it has become the norm for many. How do we overcome this? We must change the way we think and what we believe about ourselves. Our behavior never lies as we always behave consistently with our beliefs. Here are some strategies to revamp your beliefs and what you think about health and fitness and thus change what you do.

  1. Think about what inspires you to be a fit and healthy person and what you look and feel like being fit and healthy. Having a clear vision of who you are and what inspires you to be a more fit and healthy version of yourself is the first step to long-term success. Here are some questions to ask yourself to get started on your vision and what inspires you:
    What things can you do or do with more ease?
    Would you be able to do more with your spouse, children or grandchildren?
    How would feeling great affect your relationships and daily activities?
    How would being more fit and healthy affect your self-esteem?
  2. Use adjectives to describe yourself as a fit and healthy person. Here are some examples:
    I will make healthy choices today.
    I have abundant energy.
    I feel great when I'm active and when I exercise.
    I am fit.
    I recover quickly from exercise and physical activity.
    I am worthy of feeling great all the time.
  3. Create a plan to become a more fit and healthy version of yourself by setting daily and weekly goals. Goal-setting is how to act on your conscious desires. Integrating new behaviors into your daily routine is the key to success. Think of these daily and weekly goals as rituals, things you just do like brushing your teeth. Five daily rituals or goals performed each day equal 150 accomplishments each month (1850/year). WOW! Here are some daily and weekly rituals to get you started:
    Put smoothie ingredients in a blender and put in the fridge the night before for your easy breakfast
    Make hard-boiled eggs for a to go breakfast.
    Put overnight oatmeal in the fridge to grab and go in the morning.
    Prepare meals on the weekends and put in serving size containers for your lunches.
    Cut up veggies and put in serving containers and bags for lunches and snacks.
    Pack your lunch and snacks the night before.
    Pack your gym bag and put it in your car.
    Plan your workout upon waking.
    Set your intention for your day.
  4. Celebrate your success. Part of learning a new way to think is to celebrate what you did or what worked. Positive reinforcement is powerful for our brain. We will always get more of what we focus on. At the end of your day think about your life as a fit and healthy person and celebrate what is good in your life.

Chronic diseases and their prevention are for the most part in our control. If you find yourself spinning your wheels with your diet and exercise routine, commit to some or all these strategies for a month and see the difference. If you are looking for more guidance in changing how you think and, therefore, what you do, there are many books that address the importance of our mind and what we think and believe in determining our outcomes. A few of my favorites are Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill; The Greatness Guide, by Robin Sharma; and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey.