24 September 2010

Illness vs. Wellness. What's the difference?

I just love it when things come together so brilliantly, so clearly, and so TRUE.  Check out this TED video by Dr. Dean Ornish.

I love how he shows the obvious - that threats of death or even illness do not motivate people to adopt healthier lifestyles.  It's the promise of living better, not living longer, that really causes humans to change. If you think about that, I bet it's true for most of us. You may want to live longer for your families, but not necessarily for yourself. Telling somebody that's obese that they have to lose weight or they will die is like dousing a fire with gasoline, fueling the flames. It's SCARY and makes them seek more comfort. More cigarettes, more food, more alchohol, more comfort item of choice which will undoubtedly shorten the lifespan further. None of us would be here blogging about weight loss if we could handle stress well.

There's no mystery:  You can lose weight on any diet. He says the key is to change the type of food: Fat has 9 calories per gram, Protein & carbs have 4. Logically, you can eat more food while consuming less calories if you avoid fat. But for long term health, it's not just what you EXCLUDE from your diet, it's what you INCLUDE that will protect your health.  You need to add complex carbs and healthy fats, eliminate simple carbs and bad fats.

Simple carbs don't fill you up because the fiber is removed. You can shovel in thousands of calories using them. They are absorbed quickly which causes a rapid rise in blood sugar, provoking an insulin response.  Insulin accelerates the conversion of calories into fat. Once they are converted to fat, the calories are even more difficult to burn.  Complex carbohydrates, however, contain a lot of fiber which fills you up before you can consume too many calories.

Just like there are good carbs, there are also good fats, like Omega 3's such as fish oils. THREE GRAMS A DAY OF FISH OILS CAN REDUCE YOUR RISK OF A HEART ATTACK BY OVER 50%!! These are protective effects. Also, they reduce risk of cancer notably!  It's been said by dozens of physicians and experts dozens of times: Eating lower on the food chain is key - more fish and  plants!

There are lots of ways to lose weight, but they aren't all good for you. You want to choose a way that enhances your health rather than harms it. We're talking long term good choices here. That's what I've been talking about all along. Most of us know this and understand that diets are not sustainable and lead to bingeing and feelings of failure to where you seek more comfort in unhealthy behaviors because they seem satisfying in the short term.  We all know that and have said it and read it over and over and over again: it's the mental part of permanent weight loss that is the hardest to change, and the most lasting.

The more you change, the bigger the result. And it's NOT just diet and exercise. This is the moral of the story:

What he points out, it that people who are severely depressed and lonely are more likely to comfort themselves with food, smoking, drugs, et cetera. This makes them more likely to experience health issues and early death. Anything that promotes intimacy can be healing - friendships, family closeness, altruism, compassion, service, meditation or prayer, forgiveness, community, or support groups! Once you stop seeing the differences, you see that these are part of all religions. They are the things that free us from our own suffering and therefore from disease. They are things that don't cost us a dime, don't harm the environment, and make the world a better place.

When it comes down to the bottom line there is a very simple choice between illness and wellness that we can all make. Do we chose the "i" or do we chose the "we"?  It doesn't get any plainer than that.


  1. I agree it's a plain choice in theory but sometimes so very much complicated. Great post, thanks for sharing the video. :)

  2. Like the video and the post. It is hard to make the decision to eat healthy and lose weight.

  3. I agree that it's complicated and difficult but oh-so-worth it.

  4. I know many still think it is all about a number of calories, period. but I have got to think that the choice of those calories makes a difference too.

  5. Great post, Lanie, and it is especially important to choose to eat healthily while losing weight. That's a win-win. I really like Dr. Ornish. He has a lot to back-up what he talks about.

  6. Love the living better over living longer. There really is a ton of stuff I WANT to do that being a walking lunchbox prohibits me. I like the informative posts just as much as the personal ones. Keep up the good work.


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