I’ve spent a lot of time over the years working with smokers and helping them to break their habit. You might expect that fear of lung cancer is what drives smokers to seek help to quit, but that isn’t always the case.
In fact concerns about ill-health only drive smokers who are already experiencing health problems to quit. The majority don’t like the anti-social aspects of being a smoker or the smells.
Part of the problem is that people only seek to take action to maintain good health when their health is already beginning to fail.
While individuals have no adverse symptoms there is nothing to drive the motivation for change. This is why the graphic anti-smoking advertising campaigns have little effect on smoking numbers.
Because of this belief in immortality and permanent good health, individuals tend to continue to do what they do. So if you live a healthy lifestyle with lots of nourishing food and exercise then you will continue.
But if you live an unhealthy lifestyle with an unhealthy diet then you will also continue. The reason for this is that although, when we worry, we worry about the past and the future.
When we eat or exercise we do it now. So unless you have developed the habit of exercise in the same way that smokers develop the habit of smoking, you will choose to eat rather than to walk, run, jog, or cycle.
That is why change is so difficult for most of us. We did what we did yesterday and nothing bad happened so we can probably do it again today and nothing bad will happen – and that’s good – right?
When the bad is small, we do not notice it. But when the small bad happens every day, then one morning we wake up and we’ve got a big bad that seems to have appeared out of nowhere.
I was reading today about how obesity is now being linked to several cancers:
Breast – 33,000 cases a year caused by obesity.
Endometrial – 13,900 cases.
Kidney – 13,900.
Colorectal – 13,200.
Pancreas – 11,900
Oesophagus – 5,800.
Gallbladder – 2,000.
These are US figures for incidence of cancers directly related to obesity.
With breast cancer the problem is increased oestrogen in the bloodstream after the menopause. The oestrogen levels are directly linked to excess fat.
The slimmer you are the less oestrogen you produce and the less likely you are to have to suffer the radical treatment offered for breast cancer.
“To lower your risk for cancer: Lose weight, increase physical activity and eat healthier”, says Anne McTiernan, director of the Prevention Center at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
The trouble is we worry about things that we think are definitely going to happen, like an interview next week, or a dental appointment next month; and we worry about things that we convince ourselves will happen, even though they don’t – like the plane crashing, or that person we like rejecting us.
What we don’t worry about are the things our body might experience until it is.
The problem is motivation. We do anything – even eating less and exercising more – if we are sufficiently motivated. But when we are physically comfortable in our armchair watching mind-numbing dross on TV and enjoying our snacks the world seems a cosy place where nothing bad will happen if we stay just where we are.
It’s not true, but we believe the illusion we have created and continue to do nothing to love and cherish our bodies by moving them and using them and caring about what we put inside them.
It’s up to you.