Difficulty of Lifestyle Changes – The Agony and the Ecstasy

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Most of us know from experience that making lifestyle changes can be difficult. Sometimes years go by and we just don’t seem to be able to make the changes we desperately need to make such as quitting smoking, losing weight, getting back in shape, or kicking bad habits such as unhealthy eating. Then one day we walk out of the doctor’s office with a cancer diagnosis and we wonder why.

Our health is impacted by the lifestyle we live though many of us get away with bloody murder (or think we do) in terms of how much abuse we can administer to ourselves without obvious consequences. It’s a story that does not end well for many people. When finally faced with rapidly declining health, we just somehow cannot muster the discipline to make those dietary and lifestyle changes.

A positive and healthy lifestyle includes hearty nutrition not so easy to come by in today’s modern life, plenty of physical activity, adequate exposure to the sun, good drinking habits, low intake of sugar, avoidance of toxins when possible, healthy relationships with open communication (love), and proper breathing habits. This is a mouthful for meat-and-potato folks, yet when our life is on the line we better pay attention or it’s going to be lights out for us sooner than we think.

In the 21st century it also means taking supplements of the right type, as the food, air, water, and medicines are polluting our cell environments creating inflammation and disease. This is bad news for all the doctors who are led to (or pretend to) believe that supplements are more dangerous than the drugs that they prescribe so they advise their patients to stay away from the very things that will help them stay healthy or recover from disease.

What the medical media (the most dishonest folks out there) do not like to mention is that a healthy lifestyle also includes staying away from doctors and their nasty diagnostic machines unless absolutely necessary. For sure it means staying away from pharmaceutical companies and their products, including vaccines laced with neuro-poisons (mercury) that are mandated for the young. If you find yourself facing disease, be cautious of who you listen to and trust when you embark on the road to recovery.

A sustained change in behavior is achieved more effectively when the motivation to do so is elicited internally by the patient rather than imposed by someone else.[1]

Stop smoking, exercise, lose weight, and eat a healthy diet—that’s the mantra heard across the country from cardiologists and many other doctors because diet and lifestyle changes can help prevent heart disease, improve your cardiovascular function, and help you live a longer life. What a good diet consists of though is still held in question with disagreements from every corner keeping most people majorly confused. Oncologists are amongst the most ignorant when it comes to nutrition, as is demonstrated when they fail to urge their patients to avoid feeding their cancer with cheap sugar, which of course cancer loves.

Nutritionists recommend that food in its natural state is healthier and more abundant in the nutrients we need. But you don’t hear them shouting from the rooftops that hospital food is worse than dog food and that all white foods are weakening the human race, causing all kinds of diseases by the nutritional deficiencies they create.

It has been proven that people who consistently “eat healthy” are not likely to have frequent illnesses. This is because the defenses of the body are strengthened by nutritious diets. For the body to function properly there are required nutrients and lack of these nutrients causes illness, but these substances are not even on the dashboard of regular doctors who follow the lockstep of their local medical boards as well as the AMA and other similar organizations.

Whenever you resolve to eat healthier with fewer calories (less sugar), it can be easy to fall into the diet trap—thinking that you just have to get through a few weeks of eating only lettuce in order to meet your weight-loss goals. Your doctor says to “lose weight” or your naturopath says “change the way you eat or die”—it is hard for most people to accept that diet changes must be permanent. Crash dieting sets you up for failure; a better solution is to think of your new eating initiatives as something sustainable.

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If you’re trying to cut back on fatty foods, sugar, or carbs, your taste buds may be in for a shock. It can take a few weeks to wean yourself off the comforting, serotonin-inducing foods.

When we find ourselves in need of reversing diabetes, treating GERD, heart disease or cancer, we must commit to drastic lifestyle changes. Often our very recovery (life) depends on the changes we make and are able to maintain, yet most of us are not made of steel and adhering to such changes is beyond our ability.

Harvard Medical writes:

Experts who study behavior change agree that long-lasting change is most likely when it’s self-motivated and rooted in positive thinking. In October 2006, the Economic and Social Research Council, a British research group, released findings on 129 different studies of behavior change strategies. The survey confirmed that the least effective strategies were those that aroused fear or regret in the person attempting to make a change.

Studies have also shown that goals are easier to reach if they’re specific and measurable (“I’ll walk 20 minutes a day,” rather than “I’ll get more exercise”) and not too numerous (having too many goals limits the amount of attention and willpower you can devote to reaching any single goal). Another recurring theme is that it’s not enough to have a goal: You also need practical ways to reach it. For example, if your goal is to stick to a low-calorie diet, have a plan in place for quelling hunger pangs (for example, keep a bottle of water or cup of tea nearby, or chew a natural gum).

Even highly motivated individuals who adopt a balanced diet after experiencing health problems eventually revert back to previous eating habits because of difficulties encountered. Dietary change is not easy because it requires alterations in habits that have endured over many years, even decades. Contemporary medicine is what it is because it demands little or nothing of the patient.

Even intensive counseling was not enough for maintaining lifestyle changes sufficient to sustain weight loss for insulin resistant patients.[2] More frequent monitoring for an indefinite period was perceived by two-thirds of participants as necessary for them to maintain their initial lifestyle changes.

When choosing to use natural treatments, a key factor for true healing is our willingness to persist through the ups and downs of the healing process. The more changes we are willing to make, the more likely our body will cooperate with our efforts to recover from disease. Doctors almost unanimously agree that a patient’s attitude is the crucial key to recovery. Pharmaceutical drugs do not help anyone recover from anything; they only shift the symptom picture around eventually making the patient sicker in the process.

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There are two main healing processes in the Natural Allopathic Medicine protocol requiring changes that yield enormous results in terms of healing. We can totally change what we put into our bodies in terms of nutrition and we can change how we breathe. Most approaches struggle with the nutritional end of treatment neglecting the breath to the detriment of the patient.

When a serious disease such as cancer strikes us, we have to deal with our medical reality quickly, especially if the diagnosis is late-stage cancer. For me it was an attack of GERD that dropped me to my knees on the tennis courts and that finally led me to confront my sugar addiction. When we are in pain we are more motivated to change or to do something—but what that something is becomes very important. If we choose to resort to conventional medicine’s “band-aid” approach by going to the doctor for a “quick-fix” prescription, we come away with nothing in terms of getting to the underlying cause of our health issue.

It is important to find your own reason for change, not your spouse’s or your doctor’s. “If you’re doing it because you should, not because you want to, the chances of success aren’t good.

The mainstream view:

“There are many reasons why people do not take their medications as directed. Some have trouble remembering, whereas others purposefully do not take their medication due to factors such as potential adverse effects related to the medication, belief that the medication is unnecessary, failure to get refills, or because the drug is ineffective for them. Other reasons contributing to non-adherence include unclear directions about proper administration, difficulty swallowing, difficulty opening containers, costs, and patient-initiated dose-adjustment or discontinuation. In addition, patients’ beliefs and perception about an illness and the medications used to manage it can interfere with a patient’s ability to cope with an illness and adhere to a regimen. Individuals often use personal beliefs, past experiences, and perceptions about conditions, medications, and the health system to guide the decisions they make at each stage of the disease management process. Research has shown that patient’s beliefs about their conditions and the medications used to treat them can affect the decision to take medication.

“Taking medication as directed may seem simple, but non-adherence among individuals with chronic conditions is a complex and widespread public health problem. Nearly 3 out of 4 Americans report that they do not always take their medications as directed, which can lead to serious health consequences and significant costs. Many patients fail to fill their prescriptions or pick up their prescriptions from the pharmacy. Others pick up their medications but do not follow their health care professional’s instructions; for example, they might skip doses, stop taking a medication, take more than instructed, or take it at the wrong time of day.”

Making Changes is Hard to Do

Making the necessary changes takes time and a huge commitment. Yet sadly there are many people who would prefer to die sooner than give up doing what they’ve always done all their life. Witness the late-stage lung cancer patient who still smokes and you will understand exactly what I am talking about.

When and if you are ready to take on the challenge, just remember that no one is perfect. You will have occasional lapses. Be kind to yourself. When you eat a Krispy Crème donut or skip your exercise, don’t give up. Minor missteps on the road to your goals are normal and okay. Resolve to recover and get back on track.

To listen is to suffer because we do not want to listen to anything that might require a change. To listen is to change. We cannot change without listening. Listening implies a change We need to change just to listen. - HeartHealth

This prose implies a great deal. It ties listening, suffering and change into a tight mathematical dictum. We can see that people try to escape suffering by not listening, thus avoiding change. Because of our fear of change we have avoided confrontations with real problems that pertain to our health.

The secret to meaningful change and the discovery of our true heart is found in our willingness to look at those things inside of us that we normally are not at all interested in looking at. So we do not listen to our spouse or family members or friends when it comes to certain things. They say things like you’re eating too much sugar and we just laugh—it is just as if they had never said anything. In one ear and out the other! We simply ignore certain things we need to change because it is too painful. We don’t want to change or suffer, so we put our blinders on.

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“Are we too lazy or uncaring to change our circumstances? Absolutely not! We are simply products of the principles that govern our world. Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion indicates that a body at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an external force. To make an imperfect analogy (and with apologies to Sir Newton), in order to effect a lifestyle change, we must exert a force that is stronger than the forces that are maintaining our status quo. And one of these status quo forces is our social network. Many personal trainers and health care professionals I know observe that one of the most salient determinants of the success or failure of a new health regimen is the support—or lack thereof—an individual receives from friends and family,” writes Valerie Worthington.

Behavior change is a gradual process, accomplished
in stages through which the patient must progress.
Not all at-risk individuals will be ‘ready’ to change.[3]

Closed, rigid and unchanging people are not usually found to be good listeners nor are their prognoses very good if they have cancer. The most important way in which we exercise our love is by listening to the things our loved ones are telling us, those things that we need to change to regain and maintain our health.

Conclusion

There are many people for whom lifestyle changes are just about impossible. Even when we are scared out of our wits by a cancer diagnosis or by extreme attacks of GERD or full-blown diabetes, the majority of people struggle with the changes they need to make. Doctors don’t help much because they are offering what seems like the easy way out. Just shut up and take your pills or even worse cut those breasts off just to make sure you don’t get breast cancer.

Modern medicine is a sorry excuse that allows patients to not have to make the changes necessary for healing. There is not, for instance, a pharmaceutical response for a diet that is destroying a person’s physiology. If your sugar intake is doing you in, there is no drug that can do what a low-sugar diet can do.


[1] Rollnick S et al. (2005). Consultations about changing behaviour. BMJ 331:961-963.

[2] Sustainability of lifestyle changes following an intensive lifestyle intervention in insulin resistant adults: Follow-up at 2 years; Dale KS et al; Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2009;18(1):114-20.

[3] Prochaska JO et al. (1992). In search of how people change: Applications to addictive behaviours. American Psychology 47: 1102-1114.

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Comments:

  • latha

    this ts a good topic
    we should take medicines

  • Judy Young, Ph.D.

    People get very discouraged about eating healthy foods when it takes such huge effort to even find them: non-GMO, nonradioactive, nonaspartame, non-HFCS, and on and on. When one does find them, they are often too expensive for the countless low income people (even in the Western countries). As for outdoor activity, chemtrails are everywhere, along with other exponentially increasing pollutants including ongoing radiation from Fukushima, in the air and the ocean so many used to love to swim in.

    I see very few articles about by nutrition experts acknowledging these facts, and addressing the learned helplessness that is becoming so justifiably rampant.

  • Argonaut

    The best medicine or the best food are of no avail if we don’t have a vision of life. A vision of life transforms even poison in medicine.

    And what kind of vision of life have all these people whose only expectation for the next decades is to run and work every day from dawn till dusk? Blind, stressed and no sugar no tobacco no fat, nothing, to numb down this awful feeling of hopelessness? Stressed bodies don’t have even the means to metabolize healthy food or supplements.

  • Pandava

    Excellent discussion Dr Mark. Willpower must be used but I am experiencing the ‘doldrums’ right now. Somehow as you get older, enthusiasm dwindles. I am doing a post, in which i express similar sentiments, but from a different perspective. It should be up this coming week! SEE //practicalsouldbuilding.blogspot.com

    David

  • http://www.facebook.com/betinaines.feldman Betina Inés Feldman

    Congratulations
    for this essay…. I jut want to share with you that it is possible to
    change the life style and nutrition. I did it before my 5oth birthday…
    18 months before, due that I had a weight over 100 kilos, I am 1,55 cm
    tall and had lots of health complications….
    Changed
    100% my nutrition, added some nutrients like Magnesium, Vitamina C,
    Spirulina and others, drink since then one glass a day of isotonic SEA
    WATER !!! and of course the loyal friend ” sodium bicarbonate”….

    Now 18 months later, I am healthier than ever before, look younger than 50, my weight is now 64 kilos, I am happy.

    May be this short story of myself can inspire you to change ;0)

    • Sandra B

      Thank you for sharing your story, I found this inspiring as I am in the process of making further changes in order to help myself. Much better than my new Neurologist advice which was to stop looking for answers as I probably won’t find them and learn to live with my symptoms! I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Multiple Sclerosis, but I have been learning and searching for natural products and more changes I can make to my diet to help or at least improve my symptoms, so that I am not reliant on pharmaceutical meds. My aim is to try to get back to a level that would allow me to go back to work again, even if part-time. I feel this is a worthy goal that I must keep striving for.