Monday, September 7, 2009

How Healthy Do You Want to Be?

In his book entitled The Spectrum, Dean Ornish, M.D., outlines a proven lifestyle program that can help people to feel better and live longer. The program is based on solid evidence gained through scientific studies of people who were able to stop or reverse the progression of heart disease by making lifestyle changes. While most of us recognize that what we eat and how we live can affect our health, one finding of his really caught my attention. He said that: “We found a direct correlation between the amount of change in diet and lifestyle and the amount of change in these patients’ coronary disease after one year and also after five years. In other words, the more people changed, the better they got.

The whole premise of his book is based on that one principle, and when you think about it, it really makes sense. Many times when people are confronted with health challenges and lifestyle changes are recommended to them, they balk and complain about having to make those changes. They somehow view healthy living as restrictive, unpleasant, and even ascetic.

But that’s not Dr. Ornish’s approach at all. He views healthy living as a spectrum of choices. And depending on how healthy or unhealthy we are, and where we want to be, we need to make our choices accordingly. And the rewards we receive in terms of how we feel and how healthy we become are directly related to the good choices that we make. So, rather than viewing healthy living as something unpleasant that we have to do, it’s actually something that we choose to do and it's something that brings positive rewards.

So whenever the question comes to mind, “How many lifestyle changes do I really need to make?” remember to also ask this question, and your answer will be apparent: “How healthy do I want to be?”

Remember, it's all about choice. More on the subject tomorrow.

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