The biggest threat to your health is the loss of faith and the ability to change anything. Well, over half of our health depends on our desires and conscious efforts. Health is a way of thinking, self-identification, a drive for self-fulfillment, a will for life. When we lose this will, we lose not only our health but also ourselves. Everything we do today is either an investment in our future or a loan for our future.
Improving our health today makes us healthier tomorrow, in a month, in ten years. However, if we constantly borrow from our own health by undersleeping, overeating, and overindulging, the time to pay will inevitably come — in the form of untimely aging, illnesses, and suffering. As Socrates mentioned philosophically, “health isn’t everything, but everything without health is nothing.”
Health pyramid. Imagine an unhealthy person: they are overweight, eat disorderly and chaotically, don’t get enough activity, rest too much, have no desire or mood to learn and develop, have little energy, constantly search for something to cheer them up, are dependent on people’s opinions, and struggle to control their impulses. Also, they have high blood pressure, a fatty liver, acne, insomnia, and many other unpleasant symptoms.
Imagine that such a person receives a perfect body. How quickly will they reduce it to the original state? It seems that the problem isn’t in the body and genes. Now let’s take a different situation. An active and goal-oriented person receives such an unhealthy body. Will they accept it and invent excuses to leave everything as it is? No, they’ll start purposefully working to build a pyramid of health.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow built his famous pyramid of needs, and health is built by a similar scheme:
1. At the bottom of the pyramid are nutrition and energy because controlling your plate is relatively easy, and without physical activity, nothing will work properly.
2. At the next stage, we start cleaning up our environment: weeding out all garbage from our lives, including household and informational waste. We sleep better, gaining more strength and energy. Physical changes prompt our brain to work better.
3. Next, we improve awareness and stress resistance to deal with problems easier and introduce new things into our lives more actively. Motivation and stress resistance increase, and the desire to improve our lives arises. We start building plans and implementing them, and awareness helps us to learn from our mistakes, to change, and to adapt.
4. The top of the pyramid is our social standing, our environment, the questions of self-identity and life meaning. When we resolve the basic issues with our health, we start searching for a decent implementation for our strengths and abilities. The meaning gives strength and fills our actions with energy.
5. Next, we change our environment and remove the space around the pyramid: evaluating our surroundings and relocating to a more beautiful and healthy place. We think about ecology and the air, striving for a just and healthy society not only for ourselves but also for others. The health pyramid looks like this: from choosing food items every day to making political demands. We are alive while we change, and we can become even healthier.
We increase our will to live and will to have power, transforming the environment around us and making it healthier. We make the world healthier, and a healthy world reinforces our health. Start building your health from today. Take a look around: what can you do for your health? Think: which of your actions can be made even healthier?
Health paradox. We live in wonderful times: we have more power over diseases and ourselves than ever in human history, but the healthier the society people live in, the more often they complain about their health. This observation is called the “health paradox.” More and more people notice disturbing symptoms in themselves and feel greater dissatisfaction with their state.
We live longer, but we start to get ill earlier. We pursue comfort, warmth, contentment, and calorie-rich food within arm’s reach leads to unhealthiness. When we evolutionarily run away from hunger, we get trapped in overeating. When we work more and more, we get burnout and become indifferent to the fruits of our success. When we strive to have fun, relax, and relieve stress, we get trapped in addictions. When we free ourselves from existing diseases, we encounter other ones.
Pill paradox. I often see that people wait for a magical pill from me but don’t want to use proven effective remedies. “That’s very easy and boring,” they say, “where is the science?” Scientific progress creates an expectation in many people that certain medicines or devices will magically make them healthy. However, a pill that will make you stress-resistant and aware, thin and muscular, does not exist yet, and likely won’t in the near future. Hence, strive not to consume pills to be healthy, but to be healthy to avoid consuming pills.
The overwhelming majority of supplements do not have a noticeable effect on healthy people. However, a healthy lifestyle works because it makes us better and stronger. Only conscious and attentive actions stimulate development in contrast to passive consumption of “health” products. Many get excited by a healthy lifestyle, but it only brings health problems. Having fish for lunch is more efficient than omega-3 in a capsule; taking vitamin D won’t substitute for time spent in the sun; a TENS machine won’t develop your muscles, but regular exercise works 100%.
Sadly, doctors and the medical environment can’t keep up with the surge of demand for a healthy lifestyle and give almost no precise scientific answers to the questions about disease prevention and health improvement, focusing instead on treating diseases that have already emerged. This has led to the emergence of many insta-doctors, amateurs, and charlatans.
Recovery paradox. I don’t consider my client becoming thinner a success. Success means steadily maintaining a healthy weight and optimal nutrition for a long time. Many consider health as some one-time act. For example, you can lie on a sofa for a whole day and compensate for it with a hard workout session. Or you can eat anything and recover from it in a week of fasting. You can behave vilely and nastily, and then meditate or repent. You can live in a polluted environment but go to the forest once a week. Alas, it doesn’t work like that, and compensating the harm you bring to your body with episodic events is impossible. Don’t “clean” your body and mind from filth, but keep your body and mind clean.
Health is life itself; health is what we do every day. It’s habits, a matter of our routine. That’s why it is so important to form a healthy lifestyle, healthy habits. Also, you should preserve your health from your youth — just like your honor. However, it’s never too late to start, and by changing your lifestyle at any moment, you can receive certain benefits. I hope that this book will help you to build your health system and integrate it into your everyday life.
“Healthcare for everyone” and “healthcare for each person.” A progressive form of healthcare is evidence-based medicine that studies what works for large selections of people, averaging the values. It is good for doctors who have 15 minutes for each patient. However, what is good for people on average won’t necessarily be beneficial for you personally.
The organisms of each individual have their specifics and nuances, so medical drugs and treatment methods work for them differently. For some people, a particular medicine will be effective, while others will receive only side effects. For some people, a training regimen will lead to intensive muscle growth, while for others, almost zero results. Saturated animal fats harm people with specific genes, while others can eat them without suffering damage.
That’s why healthcare strives to become personalized, dividing people into different categories and choosing the optimum medicine for each type. Wellness requires not only following general advice but also searching for the one that works best for you. Study yourself to act effectively! To do so, you need to have a lot of information about your health and monitor the results of your actions. Only this way can we understand if we are moving in the right direction.
There is an opinion that health is very costly and many are unable to afford it. I plan to prove this notion wrong. Health is an investment, not an expense. By reorganizing your lifestyle, you will receive profit in the form of pleasure, free time, and saved costs.
Health gives you life, time, and energy, while energy gives you more health. Modern science and healthcare provide us with multiple opportunities to prevent and slow down the development of various diseases. For a healthy person to become healthier and for an ill individual to recover, they don’t need costly drugs or specialized devices — you hold all that is necessary in your hands already. A person of any age and opportunity can take action at any time to become healthier and stronger.
Many people consider health and wellness as something that only deals with decreasing the risk of diseases. However, it’s not true: wellness isn’t solely aimed at lowering the risk, but it is an integral component of personal development. It means improving our mental activity, developing our personality, increasing our cognitive abilities, and enhancing resources, energy, money, time, and influence.
Health is self-development, an endless process of resisting the destructive effect of time. For now, science can’t offer any breakthrough in treating the main enemy — aging. By using modern knowledge, we can prolong our lives to 90+, making these long years healthy. Winning the genetic lottery would improve our chances at a better result, but the opposite situation doesn’t mean that we need to give up. Each year more and more scientists start fighting for our health, and more and more new methods of treatment emerge. We see noticeable progress in many branches of healthcare: increased efficiency of treatment for different types of cancer, as well as heart and brain diseases. By improving our health and prolonging life, we can wait until the unresolvable health problems of today are easily resolved tomorrow.
For now, a healthy lifestyle will help to make aging optimal. After all, you can age nobly — by acquiring a patina, like silver, and not crumbling apart from rust, like tin. And without souring like cheap wine, but by achieving deeper shades of taste, like expensive wines with aging potential. Do you want to sour or become a noble wine when you age? Would you prefer to wear down from work or become rusty from doing nothing?
Questions and Assignments
1. How healthy is what you have in your life: food, communication, work, family, environment, friends, goals, rest? Evaluate each aspect on a 10-point scale.
2. Who of the people you know have changed their lives drastically by starting to improve their health? What worked for them? Who out of your heroes or role models pays close attention to their health? And who has tried to “cheat” using questionable methods for health improvement?
3. How do you see yourself in older age? A healthy pensioner who travels the world with unquenchable curiosity, or an elder who drags their existence through multiple diseases?