The world we live in has always provided challenges — obstacles to overcome, hardships to endure. Recently, however, we’ve witnessed dramatic adversity, the likes of which we have never seen. The ways we live our lives and think about health have shifted.
While our country isn’t completely aligned on what it means to be healthy and what the best path forward is, what encourages us today is the same truth that scares us: Life. Is. Change.
The entire universe is in flux. From our vibrant planet in the expanse of our solar system to each tiny particle within us, we are constantly in motion. If we don’t change, we don’t grow. Growing is living.
From its inception, Life Time has believed in the power of transformation — that through change we find the greatest versions of ourselves.
Today, as the Healthy Way of Life company, we embrace the responsibility that comes from almost 30 years of experience to tell this story — to remind ourselves where we’ve been, to understand the current situation, to empower us all to reclaim our health and well-being, and, with renewed vitality, to move forward into the future.
Designed to Be Healthy
As human beings, we are energy — brilliant, pulsing stars of light, created to move, play, live, laugh, and breathe. Every day, billions of new cells generate a vast galaxy inside each of us, creating the extraordinary.
Our health continues to change because we continue to change.
As Homo sapiens, we emerged as hunters and gatherers. We moved.
The environment was harsh, the obstacles constant. “Health” was the outcome of daily, instinctive, necessity-driven actions.
As time progressed, we learned to create tools and found efficiencies — and we began to move less. But, constantly curious, we started to understand that movement provided joy and strength, gave us confidence, and our idea of well-being expanded beyond the physical.
We discovered that health is essential not only to our own individual mental, spiritual, and emotional state, but to the vitality of families, communities, and the planet.
But slowly and somewhat stealthily over the past century, and accelerated by the pandemic, our health has changed — and not for the better.
We’ve allowed convenience and confusion, distraction and denial to make disease all too common. We’ve fallen into bad habits and unhealthy behaviors, and as a result, we have never before been so chronically sick, stressed, and depressed. The numbers tell the story:
- More than 42 percent of Americans are categorized as “obese.”
- 60 percent of adults contend with at least one chronic disease, and 40 percent have two or more.
- There’s 113 percent greater likelihood that those categorized as obese will require hospitalization upon contracting COVID-19. They are also 74 percent more likely to go into intensive care and 48 percent more likely to die.
- Many of our children are ill, suffering from poor nutrition and lack of activity; they are acquiring chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, which makes them prescription-dependent.
- 80 percent of Americans don’t get the recommended amount of exercise.
- Approximately 75 percent of healthcare dollars are being spent ineffectively on chronic conditions, many of which can be resolved only through lifestyle change.
Social, political, and economic conditions support these diseases by making bad choices easy. It’s a battleground on which COVID-19 has been given an unfair advantage; these health issues contribute to shortened lifespans all around.
Change as an Effective Strategy
So, just to be clear: We’ve gotten into a bit of a mess through poor habits. Collectively, we’ve made a series of bad choices, one drive-through, one super-sized meal, one binge-watched TV show after another.
These bad choices have added up. They not only threaten our existence on their own but give COVID-19 a deadly edge.
By poisoning our bodies and fogging our minds with these choices, we’ve allowed small decisions to join forces with a virus, and it’s costing too many lives.
If the cumulative effect of small decisions is that powerful, we need to turn it around and start immediately making small choices that are to our advantage.
This is the power we have as living, breathing creatures: to change for the good by taking one positive action at a time, followed by another.
A Few Simple Truths
Change, or transformation, is not (usually) a big force that comes out of nowhere, a seismic, earth-shaking, head-spinning ordeal.
More often than not, change is fluid, like water running in a river. Drop by drop, it occurs in persistent, tiny efforts.
And perhaps the beauty of transformation is in the process: to look back at who we were, and acknowledge who we’re becoming, each of us part of a before and after, what was and what will be.
Change is part of our DNA — we exist as moving, ever-evolving molecules, with a passion for adventure and joy in new experiences.
And when it comes to our health, there are many actions we can take to change and improve it, so we can pursue our fullest, most meaningful lives. (More on that below.)
There will be mistakes along the way, no doubt. They are the necessary steps to succeed. But every day is a new chance to start again.
The most important thing to remember is that we each possess within ourselves, at every moment, under all circumstances, the power to transform our lives, one positive action at a time.