Lifestyle Choices and Health Care Costs

If our lifestyle choices are to blame for 75% of our health care costs, why don't we just change? According to an article in the January 2011 issue of Time Magazine that is a problem that needs to be explored.

Problems cited include the difficulty in getting MD's and other health care professionals more focused on teaching wellness as well as treating sickness.

But is that the answer? So what if your MD tells you to eat more healthy food and get more exercise! Will that make you rush out the door and start jogging? Simply pouring more health care dollars into "let me tell you what to do" type programs is not likely to make all that much difference. Why?

Because such attempts at changing lifestyle choices are not based on the fundamental laws governing how human beings change behaviors. They are based on the old paradigm of "prescription leads to cure". OK, that paradigm works for sickness because sickness is a big motivator for most of us. But wellness? Not really. Why change if I feel like I'm basically doing OK?

Dr Dean Ornish is cited in the article as being able to get beyond this problem to some extent with his "intensive lifestyle intervention" programs. I have great respect for Dr. Ornish and these are great programs with some impressive results. But the results don't come cheaply and requests are being made for greatly increased funding to improve them. A lot of support is required and change comes slowly. Is it possible then that there might be a better approach? How about offering people a body-mind process through which they just might discover their own motivation for change and develop their own personalized program for change as well? And one that they are 100% committed to, right from the start?

For me, any real and meaningful change I've ever made in my life that has lasted, has been one that I have discovered for myself and decided I really wanted to make happen. How does this happen? For me the key is awareness, pure and simple. Furthermore, the awareness I get via my body as well as my mind is usually much more powerful in focusing, defining, and initiating change.

And it's not just true for me. Over the years I've seen hundreds of clients using a mind-body approach to awareness, as found in Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, and I've witnessed some remarkable changes in lifestyle choice as a result.

Like the client diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome who had tried everything anyone could prescribe for it. And then, while being supported in an assisted yoga posture, to find that one recurring thought in his mind was the trigger to most of his symptoms. OK, so there was a little process time also involved, but basically in 55 minutes his life changed and his reliance on traditional health care for treatment and a cure had virtually evaporated.

When you think about it, it makes sense. If you become aware of what you are doing in detail in your body, your mind, and your whole being, and how this is connecting to your life and your moment to moment choices, then you can check out if it's working or not. This awareness can then lead to different choices, almost on a moment by moment basis. When put into action, those new choices can have dramatic and life changing benefits.

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