"The future ain't what it used to be."
|My life has changed forever. I have lost some weight, and as a member of the 50+ club, take great pride
in being able to comfortably wear the suit I wore at my wedding over 20 years ago. I have gone from very little, if any, structured
activity in my life to running twenty miles per week. I’ve been transformed from a sweets and refined-carbohydrate addict
to one who craves green, leafy vegetables and tofu. I’ve been transformed from an individual who thought he had control
over the tremendous burden of stress in his life to one who actually has more control over the tremendous burden of stress
in his life. I meditate more. I am cultivating a yoga practice and I love it! I pray more. I purposefully cultivate
as many meaningful friendships in my life as possible. I have transformed the frustration of “not having time”
to do the many things that I value to actually doing and experiencing the satisfaction of endeavors that I value the most.
I no longer assume as a physician and as a human being that age-related decline in health and quality of life is an inevitability.
I “passively accept” less and “consciously choose” more. |
My family history is replete
with health risks including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, depression, stroke, and premature
death. The cards I was born with, in retrospect, were not that great for many of the agerelated morbidities that many people
confront. Five years ago, my trajectory of health and wellness was a path largely under the influence of inertia and passivity.
My behavioral choices were undermining my health.
I was confronting the need to take medications to control many
of the risk factors I was genetically endowed with and behaviorally perpetuating. Currently, my cholesterol and blood pressure
have never been better. My mood, emotions, and concentration have never been better and more positive. My marital life has
never felt more satisfying. I feel more accepting, trusting, open-minded, and resilient. And the only medications I take are
supplements, e.g., fish oils and antioxidants. I have come to appreciate that I have much more control over my life trajectory
than I ever thought imaginable! I am more mindful that while alive, it is never too late for meaningful change.
Self-care is in fact a wonderful gift and opportunity! This has also changed the way I care for others. The remarkable life
transformation that I’ve experienced and the life transformations that many people I’ve cared for have experienced
combined with the scientific research that currently informs the health effects of behavioral and lifestyle change have inspired
me to write this book. People who are in more control of their lives experience a lower burden of stress. People who are in
more control of their lives are more resilient and better able to transcend setbacks and adversity.
= Less Stress
Less Stress = Effective Aging
Our health is profoundly influenced by our thoughts, perceptions, feelings or emotions, and our behavior. Our brain, the
central mediator of these interactions possesses the remarkable capacity for plasticity, the ability to adapt at any time
in our lives. Just as an addict is drawn to a substance like nicotine because of the potent biologic basis for reward and
motivation, health-promoting behaviors can ignite this same biologic cascade of brain chemistry. The biologic interactions
that connect thought, feeling, and behavior can be cultivated to optimize the potential for self-care and successful aging.
Current scientific evidence suggests that these primal mind-body systems are designed to adapt in a manner that
rewards positive emotions, thoughts, and reinforces effective behavioral change. These insights suggest that deeply rooted
and health undermining habitual thoughts and behaviors can be transformed in a manner that develops and cultivates positively
reinforcing addictive motivation and reward that leads to better health and happiness. The “wiring” to promote
better health and to reduce the risk of age-related disease is already within you. The good news is that in as little as
4 weeks, these systems can be ignited to more permanently change your attitude, outlook, and life forever.
catch? This is challenging work. It requires that you dispel the notion that seemingly small and “trivial” magnitudes
of behavioral change are insignificant in your life. Life enhancing biologic change deep beneath the surface will be cultivated
despite what your long held illusory perceptions have convinced you of. For example, one hour of gardening per week could
lower your risk of sudden cardiac death by as much as 66%. Walking one hour a week will significantly lower your risk of
coronary artery disease. And while only 4 weeks are necessary to tip your mind-emotion-brain-body momentum in to a positively
reinforcing direction, you will be challenged to redefine who you are. It is my intent to share some strategies for how to
get there. And while you will begin to experience immediate results, this cannot succeed unless you cultivate a discipline
that leads to lifelong change.