Wednesday, October 22, 2008


An Open Letter…..”An Awakening” to the personal responsibility of health


I’ve been thinking about the conversation we had the other week. You gave me an article that you wrote about the importance (and unwillingness of Americans) of practicing preventative health. You also spoke to me about how the idea of health has been substantially skewed by private interest groups.

I have to admit, since we spoke much of what you said has clung to the back of my mind. Before we spoke, every morning I happily popped Prilosec in my mouth. But after, what you said about prevention and maintaining health slips its way into my mind.

I have known for a long time that the most effective method of controlling my heartburn is eliminating the foods that give me heartburn from my diet. Have I ever tried that? No. What did I do? Asked my doctor for prilosec. Now I think about what the long term effects are of this pill, and it has me uneasy, quite honestly. I looked into it, and it seems like researchers have no idea what the long term effects are. Probably because the drug hasn’t been around long enough for any data to be collected. But that freaks me out. So I’ve dropped most foods that give me heartburn. Except coffee, damn that’s a hard one.

Another thing that has me spooked is the media’s control over what I know about my own health. When it comes to scientific data about Global Warming, I don’t go looking in Exxon Mobil's library to find my info. I look at several sources, all of which are reputable scientific communities. Why don’t I do that with my health? I never question my doctor, and maybe I should.

My mother is a nurse practitioner in southern VA, and recently I was having a conversation with her about health awareness. I asked her why we common Americans have no desire to question what our doctors say. She said most people see doctors as authority figures, and western medicine certainly has the stigma of being “in control.”

Why am I not in control of my health? It affects me more than them!

Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been thinking about what you said, and its leading me into some uncharted territory. Which is totally sweet.

Have a good one!


Nothing makes me happier than hearing someone 'wake-up' to the personal responsibility of their own health. It is my personal goal as a health coach.

Thanks for listening and, most importantly, taking immediate and decisive action to save your life.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What's In A Word?

No sooner had I published my entry (10-13-2008), “The Rectification of Names,” I read an article in the NYTimes: “Campaign Myth: Prevention as Cure-All.”

In short, its author, H.Gilbert Walsh, MD says:

Why is it that in a presidential campaign “both candidates champion one of medical care’s most pervasive myths? The myth is that like magic, preventive medicine will simultaneously reduce costs and improve health?”

He goes on to say: “the term ‘preventive medicine’ no longer means what it used to: keeping people well by promoting healthy habits, like exercising, eating a balanced diet and not smoking…The medical model for prevention has become less about health promotion and more about early diagnosis.

It boils down to encouraging the well to have themselves tested to make sure they are not sick. And, that approach does not save money; it costs money.”

The point being that the word prevention has been co-opted, distorted and down-graded to persuade the public that medical screening for diseases is prevention.

Beyond a myth, that is a dangerous lie.

They have convinced the public that prevention = screening therefore, health care = treatment for diseases diagnosed as a result of that screening and, health = taking medications to ‘control’ those diseases (meds for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, osteoporosis, etc, etc.)

Changing names to change the meaning is a powerful form of propaganda. And, all propaganda is used to sway opinion to effect an agenda; in this case, to literally push people into a medical disease and drug based model of care.

Confucius said:

“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.”

Therefore, "any attempt to fix what is wrong in the world had best start with the rectification of names."

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Rectifcation of Names

Getting the Words Right : or, "Through the Looking Glass"

As acclaimed author Michael Pollan recently wrote, "the corruption of society begins with the corruption of words. Therefore, any attempt to fix what is wrong in the world had best start with the rectification of names."

Clearly, the corruption of language to serve ulterior motives is as old as communication itself. However, its impact has been greatly magnified by the speed and reach of modern communication technologies. Lacking clear definitions of our own we accept as truth those conveyed to us by sources that, all too often, do not have our best interests in mind.

Let's look at the biomedical pharmaceutical-based model of "health."

Health Care:

The entire focus of medical training is the study and treatment of disease and pathology. Doctors do not study health or what maintains it. They do not promote health or prevent disease. You only 'go' when you are sick and care kicks in with disease diagnosis, the end stage of a process.

What's healthy about that?

Wouldn't it be more accurate to call it disease care?

Health Screen:

A systems check looking for observable signs of disease progression, done repeatedly over time until something is found to diagnose and treat.

Again, what's healthy about that?
Wouldn't it be more accurate to call it a disease screen?

Health Insurance:

It only pays if you are diagnosed with illness. Except for token gym memberships and disease screens, most do not cover wellness care or anything that maintains and promotes health.

Wouldn't it be more accurate to call it:
catastrophic homeowner's insurance for the body?

Health Care Crisis:

The crisis, we are told, is that too many of us do not have health insurance and that costs are skyrocketing. All true. However, the crisis is NOT that we don't have insurance. The real crisis is that so many of us are so sick.

Wouldn't it be more accurate to call it a disease crisis?

And, wouldn't the real fix be promoting health?

Interestingly, insurers now refer to doctors as providers, patients as consumers and health care as managed care. Sounds harsh? Money oriented. Perhaps, the 'rectification of names' has begun!

The medical model has a real and very beneficial role in crisis and emergency care and management and the alleviation of catastrophic symptoms. All, after-the-fact infection or trauma induced or end-process disease care.

However, this model of waiting for, and then treating, the symptoms of disease has failed any way you look at it. It has failed in terms of the the continued skyrocketing rates of disease and mortality, the inefficacy of medical care in treating them, and the economic costs associated with them.

Real change will come when there is a shift in our collective consciousness away from the passive pill-popping and surgical interventions of the disease-care paradigm to the daily personal responsibility of the health and wellness-care paradigm.

It is not as if we do not know what health is or how to achieve and maintain it.

You do not need to be sick to have a healthy intervention.

Eating a whole foods, largely plant-based diet, exercising daily and having a positive outlook on life not only create health, they can reverse and/or ameliorate disease processes and symptoms.

Health is way more than the avoidance or absence of disease and the removal of symptoms.

Health is about living a full, active and happy life. It comes from personal awareness, personal responsibility and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

Health throughout your life is not only possible, it is your birthright!

As Buddha said:
"We are each the architects of our own health or disease."

What are you going to do today, and every day, to maintain and improve your health?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How Many People ARE healthy?

Look around at any group of 100 adults (age 20 or over).

How many of them do you think are healthy?

How many of them think they are healthy?

We can assume that our group of 100 is consistent with national statistics.


66 are overweight or obese, 11 have diabetes, 27 have cardiovascular disease, 10 have depressive disorders, 7 have chronic headaches, 70 experience frequent sleep problems, more than 51 are taking at least 1 medication per day; 40 are on 3 or more medications per day and 5 are alcoholics

Some statistics are hard to find.


How many have regular digestive problems, routine, back, neck, joint or muscle pain, sexual/reproductive problems, skin problems, chronic bladder/urinary problems, significant allergies, repeated ‘colds,’ and chronic high stress, etc?

If they have one, or any combination of those problems, and/or, they are on medications to ‘control’ the symptoms, are they ‘sick’ or are they ‘healthy?’

So, how many people, out of any random group of 100 adult Americans, are actually healthy? Evidently, very few.

Are you one of them?

We humans are the sickest species on the planet. We Americans, in particular, are obsessed with health (diet plans, gym memberships, supplements, etc) and health care (drugs, medical tests, surgeries,etc) yet we have one the highest rates of chronic degenerative diseases, with more and more of us getting sicker and dying each year. And, the rates many of those diseases are dramatically rising at younger ages and, in our kids.

The only appropriate question is: WHY ARE WE SO SICK?

Is it because we don’t have enough access to doctors, hospitals, diagnostic tests, surgical procedures or drugs? As the numbers of all of these medical interventions rapidly rise, more of us continue to get sick and die.

It is because that is not why we are so sick.

Whenever I ask patients to tell me three things they can do to make themselves healthier, 100% of the time they say some variation of:

I can eat better

I can exercise more

I can control my stress better

That’s because: we all KNOW what it takes to BE healthy.

Patients never say

I need to take more drugs

I need more medical testing

I need to have surgery.

Again, because we all KNOW that medical testing, drugs and surgery are all ‘after the fact’ disease treatments, but never provide health.

So, why is it, in their daily lives, most rely on testing, drugs and surgery for health?

And, if it were working, wouldn’t we, as a group, be getting healthier instead of sicker?

Why the disconnect in our lives, between what we want (to BE healthy) and what we do (get sick and fight disease?

What do you want and what do you do? Do want to invest your time, effort and money on things that promote a healthy life?


Do you want to waste your time, effort and money being sick and tired, fighting diseases after they occur?

It really is a matter of choice and, the choice is yours.