THE BLOG

Footsteps of Fate

10/10/2012 04:25 pm ET | Updated Dec 10, 2012

As we progress through life, if we never hear the footsteps of the reaper, we likely are deprived of a critically important protective force to lengthen and improve our life.

How many people do we all know, including of course ourselves, who eat and drink too much of the wrong things and, despite modern medicine, have gotten heavy and out of control? Too many, for sure!

I admit that I am one of those over-indulgers, though so far I have hung on for 81 years. I recently discovered that it is never too late to get "with it" and clean up my act. This should allow me to move forward to even better years, in which I can look, feel and behave better -- as well as keep you informed with my ideas.

This note is absolutely not for the purpose of preaching gospel, but simply to do my duty as your self-appointed commentator and share with you some stuff I learned recently. You may do whatever you like with it, including stopping right here, trashing it online, or ignoring it entirely. However, if you do that, please do not blame me for not telling you some interesting things that you probably do not know.

Most of us tend to consume too much. Notice I said consume, not eat. Of course we do both.

The difference is, for example, that as we consume air and water, we get vital ingredients like oxygen and fluids. On the other hand, as we select what to eat and drink, we also get essential nourishment but with it -- in most cases unwittingly -- we also are consuming too many things (like salt, sugar and animal fats) that, over time, become very bad for us.

Thus, it is what we choose to eat (often with too much influence from massive advertising) without fully knowing what it contains, that holds the danger to our lives. And it is not so much the calories or the quantities of any given item that are dangerous as it is the ingredients.

Yes, modern medicine (with all of its advertising) is keeping many of us alive, as much as 20 years longer than our parents. Ironically, that is simply keeping a lot of us around long enough to get us into the clutches of a whole raft of new diseases -- ones that in simpler times a half-century and more ago, when other causes of death were more prevalent, were still pretty rare.

Sure many of us already generally know that too much salt, sugar and animal fats are bad for us. But few of us ever knew, for example, that plain, ordinary bread is our largest single source of salt, that the sugar in fruit is fine in large quantities -- especially if eaten in conjunction with vegetables -- that essential protein does not have to come solely from animals. Perhaps, if more of us knew more about these facts, we would be better people overall and, who knows, even better able to deal with political gridlock to boot?

All human bodies have two lines running in them through the passage of time. The top line is input (consumption) and the bottom line is output (exercise). If those two lines grow apart over time and the input line rises and the output line falls, that body will over time almost surely gain weight. And in most cases, it will also gain far too much of that dratted salt, refined sugars and animal fats.

In time that body thus becomes seriously at risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiac disease (clogged arteries and heart attacks) and Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes. According to the CDC:

Chronic diseases -- such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and arthritis -- are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the U.S.

7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year are from chronic diseases. Heart disease, cancer and stroke account for more than 50 percent of all deaths each year.

In 2005, 133 million Americans -- almost one out of every two adults -- had at least one chronic illness.

Sadly, but realistically, most good doctors are trained to deal primarily with the conditions presented to them, not to preach endlessly to their patients on how to avoid them.

OK, you may be asking, what can I do about it?

The answer is, a lot -- and more easily than you think

Obviously the first step is to accept and become aware of the facts.

A second step is to do your own research on what is appropriate for you. That could be as simple as adjusting eating and exercising habits on your own.

However, most people need help doing that. Our country has a vast array of places that hold themselves out to show you how. You may need to find a place near you, that you can afford. And thanks to Google (which may have kept you in a chair too long) you can find one in a flash!

One standout among those places that I attended recently is the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami, Fla.

All those places try to help you get rid of bad habits and replace them with new, better ones. Many times it works well for a short while, but most of the time the half-life of persistence is too brief. That is where vanity and the footsteps of fate (mortality) should kick in to prod your willpower back to work to enable you to remain in charge of your life and appearance.

And, here enters a final point. You are not only fighting with yourself, but you are fighting with the food and beverage industries, which are making fortunes from your desires and spending endless amounts on massive advertising to lure you, your children and grandchildren more deeply into their sugary, fat-laden abyss.

And to make matters even worse, the government agency charged with ensuring that you are properly informed about what is in what you consume -- the U.S. Food and Drug Administration -- appears to be in the pockets of the industry they are charged to regulate because they have allowed far too many labels to be horribly misleading, in many cases virtually to the point of fraud, by allowing merchants to play games and confuse you, often by mixing volumes and weight and promising you wildly distorted, healthy-sounding descriptions of things that taste good and you like to eat.

The emphasis in most good places that seek to help you is more on education and medical science than simply weight loss and exercise. You should think about it as a comprehensive review and modification of your lifestyle. The first step is to get rid of your denial and let your desire to be healthier and more attractive-looking out of the closet and into your life!

Go for it, friends!

P.S: I lost 15 pounds in 12 days (now down to 240); all my "numbers" greatly improved; I never craved anything nor was hungry. I think I figured out how to eat outside the "prison" walls -- breakfast and lunch are easy, but dining out is not. I have doubled my exercise schedule; and lastly, when I drink scotch I take sips of it, neat like a medicine (which of course it is!) and I feel and behave better too -- some say?

For more by Frank A. Weil, click here.

For more on personal health, click here.