From ‘Fed A Lie’

Excerpt from my book Fed a Lie.

Health Begins With Truth

The best place for us to begin to ask questions about health and the only place we can begin is with the truth. In pondering health, truth and why telling the truth about health is not a profitable business to be in, I have discovered a number of truths to explain why truth cannot be reduced to a product, packaged and/or sold.

Starting with the most basic truth, which is  “Truth is not a product or a thing that we can use as means to our ends.” Sorry folks, we don’t and we cannot handle the truth. Rather, the truth handles us and when it gets a hold of you- you will know it. To think we can take this living thing and manipulate or control it to make our kingdoms come and our wills be done is ignorance and arrogance at the highest level.

Second, truth that is reduced to a product must be fragmented and a fragmented truth is an untruth. In other words, an untruth is a lie. Sure, it is true you can lose weight while reducing your calories (sometimes) but the equal and opposite effect of limiting calories, focusing on food, using food as a means to an end and treating your body like a machine and food as calories demands that you ignore a foundational and whole truth that “Food is a gift, and we are designed to be receivers and givers of that gift.” To reduce this amazing and powerful truth to a fragmented piece of usable information is to not only deny truth, but to deny who we are and how we are naturally designed to be healthy, whole and holy human beings.

Third, truth cannot be sold because truth is a gift that must be given in a relationship if it has any hope to take root and grow. I have known this truth for quite a while because I have seen friend after friend, client after client who I have helped to lose weight and I have watched them undo everything that we worked so hard to accomplish after they stopped creating the space and time to be with me. The reason why people who know better don’t do better is because we desperately need and are completely dependent on community and relationships to help us remember who we are and how we are designed to be healthy and how we are designed to nourish our health…every single day. It is the people in our daily lives who help us remember what to do and why we do it. It is these relationships that encourage, nourish and produce sustainability. The need of relationships and community to nourish health is one of the many reasons why health is NOT an individual formula. Health requires a practice of nourishment that must be practiced in relationships and community.

Fourth, truth must be given with no hidden agendas, no strings attached and for the ultimate good of another. When we give truth, we give ourselves and that is a priceless gift. To put a price tag on a gift or to try to give a gift while trying to get something in return completely changes what you do and who you are. Instead of giving a gift as a friend to a friend, you make a transaction as a buyer and consumer. My experience, strength and hope (our stories), and our time, talents and truth must be given freely to help another. A gift must be free and given freely, if we want it to be a gift and if we want others to receive us and our truths as gifts.

Fifth, truth must be given in a relationship because the truths that we most desperately need to hear are embarrassing, and they will humiliate our false-selves to death. If truth is given as a gift for the good of another person and we love that person enough to tell the truth or we love truth enough to give it, then the person we love or the truth we love will need our presence and participation in truth’s undoing process. I have discovered the only people who can give truth and want to give truth are those who have received truth, felt its power and knows the freedom it gives after it has had its way with them. Truth givers know that truth has great power and the giver of truth has a great responsibility to be there when truth takes root and begins its work of setting a person free.

The last reason why truth cannot be sold is because no one in their right mind is going to buy truth. The reason why the diet, fitness, health and wellness industries are trillion dollar industries is because no one wants to hear the truth, we want to be lied to and so they lie to us. We want to be told the reason why we are sick is because of our genes, body type, blood type, energy levels, enneagrams and that our bodies are completely different from everyone else in the world and we need a specific diet, pill and procedure to lose weight. Perhaps, even more than that, we want a magic pill, a magic program, a magic formula or a magic product that promises a way to skip the hard, boring and mundane work of doing the basics day in and day out. Seriously, who can post or brag about eating another bowl of oatmeal, taking a walk, drinking some water and just doing the ordinary things that nourish us at the most basic levels?

The diet and fitness industry has guaranteed a formula that distracts, denies, deflects and offers us ways to defend our gluttonous consumer lifestyles from the truth. I spent decades in the diet and fitness industry using a formula that promises health but defines health in a very superficial and fragmented way. Still, even now with the epidemics of diet-related disease and sickness, the diet and fitness industry defends a formula and a system they have used to replace truth and they continue to deny that the results produced by their formula have been catastrophic.

Ironically, it was these catastrophic results that changed everything for me and it was the crash and burn of the diet and industry’s formula, ways, language and nonsense that created the burned out space in me where TRUTH came in and gave me the willingness and determination to search for what the true definition of health is and what truths will determine how we understand health. In this process of looking at everything I was ever told by the diet and fitness industry, I discovered that health had been marketed, communicated, defined and reduced to a physical result that, according to the experts, could be controlled and manipulated through external strategies like diet and exercise. I had no idea that health might mean something entirely different and everything that I had been told about health might be wrong, until my physical health started to suffer at a time when I was the fittest and I had been the most strict with my diet and workout regime than I had ever been.

It was here at my fittest where my internal and external self began to contradict each other and it was here that I was forced to start to question my own health because I did not feel healthy, even though I looked healthy, my blood test revealed that I was free of sickness and disease and all my levels were normal according to my obese doctor. As I started to think about health and how it is defined and determined by a formula, I started to realize that when I defined health as the diet and fitness industry defines health in a completely external way, that I didn’t even ask the question “Am I healthy?” I just assumed I was healthy because I was fit, strong and for the most part pain free.

Even if I used using the dictionary’s definition of health, which is Health is a condition of being free of sickness and disease, I would also have had no reason to ask the question “Am I healthy?” Because once again, I would have assumed that I was healthy (even considering my lifelong thyroid issues) since I was showing no signs of physical sickness or disease. It became clear to me that something was very wrong because not once had I ever asked the question “Am I Healthy?” What changed for me is feeling like shit and looking super fit, and thinking that this definition of health must start somewhere else than the results that I was seeing in the mirror and in my lab work.

This is when I started to realize that health starts with truth but the truth that I was talking about was an honest conversation with myself after I asked the question “Am I healthy?” It really wasn’t until I was seemingly at my healthiest, according to my physical appearance, measurements, tests and definitions, that I felt mentally exhausted, emotionally shut down, spiritually weak, extremely hungry and weird. I have found that one of the hardest things to do is to convince a test determined “healthy” person that they are unhealthy, especially when the definition of health that we have used for decades, built an entire belief system on and is followed by trillion dollar industries and experts, and promoted by the medical community. Moreover, when the working definition is what it is and it has been even further reduced to mean being free of specific diseases and sicknesses and certainly not the sickness and disease that is being treated with pharmaceuticals.

So, unless someone can prove a person is unhealthy with a specific test, it will be almost impossible for them to acknowledge or admit that they are unhealthy. I know this to be true from my own personal experience and how hard it is to even ask the question when you look fit or when your lab work comes back normal. Still given the definition of health as it is in the dictionary, then please tell me why 88% of the population who are suffering from some form of diet-related disease and sickness are not officially diagnosed and labeled unhealthy. 

Obviously something is really off, when we have a definition of health that we refuse to use to diagnose people and force an epidemic of unhealthy people to accept and understand their condition, in order to seek treatment for their sickness and disease. So, what gives? Why aren’t we talking about the mass majority of us being unhealthy?

Socrates said, “Wisdom starts with the definition of terms.” Like Socrates, this is why I believe health starts with the definition of health, in order that we can even attempt to ask the question “Am I healthy?” So, let’s start with the most scaled down and paltry definition of health like the one we find in the dictionary, “Health is to be free of sickness and disease.” With that definition alone, is it not enough to weigh us in the balance and find at least 88% of us wanting. Eighty-eight percent of Americans have some form of diet-related disease and sickness. What if we just look at our bodies? Then 74% of us can literally see that we are overweight or obese.

According to the current working definition of health, there is no such thing as a “healthy” person who has diet-related disease and sickness and there is no such thing as a “perfectly healthy” person who is overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese is a a physical result of poor health, it is a sickness and/or disease. If we look a little closer at the dictionary’s definition of health that has reduced health to a physical result, then this means that a person can be healthy according to a blood test because they are free of sickness and disease and at the same time they can be exercising excessively, planning their days around eating and workouts, drinking processed shakes and bars, not eating fiber, over consuming protein, and taking unregulated supplements.

Likewise a person can be deemed healthy and even perfectly healthy, even if they are overweight and their blood tests do not indicate sickness and disease or even when that person is taking medication to treat their sickness and disease, which should be working to make their blood test fall into “normal” limits. At no point, unless one is morbidly obese, is an overweight person diagnosed as being unhealthy nor is a person’s mental, emotional, spiritual or relational health factored into a basic health exam. In America, less than 1 in 10 Americans eat the RDA of fruit and vegetables and 97% of Americans do not eat the RDA of fiber. I have never had a doctor ask me about my diet, and for most of my life I did not eat the RDA of fruit, vegetables or fiber. Likewise, a doctor has never asked about my soda consumption, my sugar consumption, or my junk food consumption. I have never been asked about my water intake, my sleep, my sun exposure, my use of vitamins (a completely unregulated industry) or if I possibly exercised too much.

Even in using such a ridiculous definition of health like the one we find in the dictionary and the one that the diet, fitness, health, wellness and medical industry uses without hesitation, it still has made absolutely no difference in our physical health. Because I am going to say it and keep saying it…According to the fragmented definition of health that we use to label a person healthy or unhealthy, eighty-eight percent of us are unhealthy. And even though, according to the standard definition of health, I was healthy-THE TRUTH IS THAT I WAS NOT HEALTHY AT ALL. It wasn’t a test or medical professional who brought me to this conclusion but it took me feeling one way and looking another and having nowhere to turn for help that forced me to ask if I was healthy, and if maybe the working definition of health was wrong. It was at this point, where things got interesting because when the definition did not make sense, I was forced to start thinking for myself and questioning everything I had been told or that I had regurgitated over the last 39 years.

But to move in the right direction, I realized that I could go no further until I understood what was the true meaning of health. Had I just stayed with the acceptable working definition of health and said I am healthy, then I would have easily been sucked into the black hole where experts do nothing but make money off  teaching us how to tinker in the formula and its minutia ad nauseam. Using the standard definition of health, I would have believed myself to be healthy but maybe just a little sad and I would have looked for ways to fix my sadness. I heard just the other day that ice cream was medicinal, so maybe I would have gotten some ice cream. Or maybe I would have gone shopping, or drank some alcohol. Maybe I would have spent years believing I was healthy and doing the most unhealthy things to sabotage my health until the current working definition of health told me I was unhealthy when I developed some catastrophic disease. Aren’t catastrophic diseases exactly what we are now facing?

We use a definition of health that we really do not even use correctly and one that when used does not have any accounting or respect for us as human beings who are feeling, thinking, relating and living human beings. It is obvious, at this point, that in making health a measurable and quantifiable test, it has produced an external approach to health that has defined health as a result and because health was defined as a result, a formula had to be produced to get the result of health. In this “health” formula like in all formulas, variables are the only things that matter because variables are the only things that fit.

Consequently, this is how food becomes calories, we are reduced to height, weight, blood pressure, temperature, pulse, heart beat, a knock on the knee, a few questions and some blood tests. In other words, numbers give us results and results tell us who we are — we are either healthy or unhealthy. Although formulas are pretty cut and dry and particularly this health formula, it still gives an inordinate amount of power to the person who is looking at the numbers. Perhaps, this explains how one can play with the numbers and even give preference to some numbers while ignoring others. This may also explain the reason why we do not immediately classify everything above the formula’s definition of a normal weight as unhealthy. The information produced by a test must be communicated to us by a test giver. Since the test giver does not have a blood test to tell someone if they are overweight or obese and they do not define being overweight or obese as a sickness or disease, then the test giver can just ignore what they see, especially when the blood tests are normal. Even though a patient is overweight or obese, if their blood tests are normal, then chances are their weight will not be addressed at all.

Furthermore, if a patient has an abnormal blood test that reveals high blood pressure or high cholesterol and they require treatment, then this person is unhealthy. But are they still classified as unhealthy if the medication is treating their sickness and disease and their blood tests fall in the correct range of numbers? Still, whether we realize it or not, if we are going to use a physical result to define health, then we will be defined by that result or test. By this point, it should be clear that numbers are not taken seriously nor do they communicate common sense or an understanding of health that is healthy. Perhaps, the dependency on tests to determine health reveals why our emotional, mental or spiritual health are not factored into the formula. Feelings and thoughts cannot be measured, neither can fear, worry, guilt, shame or regrets. Even pain must be quantified to qualify for approved treatment. Have you ever been asked “On  a scale of 1 to 10, how worried are you?”

With health being a result and the formula being the way to get the result of health, then is it possible, given the results that we currently see that we can understand why the diet, fitness, health, wellness and medical communities are the ineffective behemoths that they are today in preventing, treating and reversing unhealthy results. Despite the fact that we have more hospitals, doctors, health administrators, gyms, diet centers, information, hacks, superfoods, health tips, trainers, diets, workouts, bootcamps, wellness centers, tests, screenings and access to food and medical care than ever before, we have the largest epidemics of diet-related sickness, disease and breakdown than ever before. And, it just came out that loneliness is our biggest epidemic. I just have to ask: How do you measure loneliness and factor that into the health formula? Have you ever been given a test that measured your loneliness at the doctor’s office or even asked if you are lonely? On a scale from 1 to 10, how lonely are you?

At this point, I have now attended a gluttonous amount of state and local meetings on obesity and health. Strangely enough in my state that ranks well above the national average of being overweight and obese, I often have heard phrases like “move the needle, fix the formula or present more information.” I can only imagine how many years they have been saying the same things over and over and having the same type meetings that have done nothing to stop an epidemic of diet-related disease and sickness from skyrocketing in adults and children in our state. I wonder how it is even possible that year after year and decade after decade of seeing these results that anyone, not even the adults with diet-related disease and sickness leading theses meetings, have stopped to ask if its possible that the formula is wrong or if their definition of health is wrong and the reason why we have gotten so off track is because we have been going the wrong way the whole time.

Side note: Even if we were able to “move the needle”…then NEWSFLASH-we are still in an epidemic of diet-related disease and sickness. Even if we moved the needle, the mass majority of adults are still overweight or obese, and not eating the RDA of fruit, vegetables or fiber.

Likewise, if we changed the formula or came up with a better formula, then NEWSFLASH-we are still using a formula that reduces people and food to variables.

Even if we get more information out there, then NEWSFLASH-it is still just information that is disconnected from everything we need to change our health. The truth is that there are a lot of people who know better and they still do not do better because we treat them like variables and we try to force them to fit in a formula that wants to determine who they are (healthy or unhealthy) how they are (healthy or unhealthy) and what to do to be healthy or unhealthy according to the latest and greatest test result or piece of information.

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