Re-Framing How We Think About Health + Resiliency In 2020
What a nutty year 2020 has been. What most of us (raising my hand here!) thought would be a two week lockdown to help flatten the curve has turned into a 7+ months of a “new normal” that feels anything but normal.
Reflecting back on this year, I can’t help but wonder how different things might have been if we had put an equal level of focus and intentionality into becoming a healthier, more resilient population as we have on avoiding COVID-19.
Or how this pandemic would have played out if, for the last several decades, we had all voted with our dollars on a large scale and demanded higher standards and more healthful products from the food industry, the cosmetics industry, etc.
I have a feeling that things would look quite a bit different than they do today.
Instead, we’ve put all of our eggs into the basket of avoiding coronavirus with excessive sanitizing/disinfecting, mask wearing and socially distancing ourselves from others. We’ve come at this pandemic from a place of defense rather than offense – so much so that according to the CDC, 94% of people who died from covid had an average of 2.6 underlying medical conditions.
94%! For healthy individuals, this information might provide some relief. For less healthy individuals, it may stir up concern. No matter which end of the spectrum you’re on, the good news is that you have a say in your health outcome – pandemic or no pandemic.
The foods we eat, the products that we use and the lifestyle habits we implement have the potential to either create health or contribute to sickness and disease.
It’s such a simple philosophy at its core, one that has stood the test of time – treat your body well and it will be more resilient overall.
At this stage in the pandemic, we know that comorbidities greatly contribute to one’s risk of dying from COVID-19. But oddly enough, we’ve seen an alarming absence of government recommendations/guidelines focused on helping us become more resilient and healthy humans.
Imagine for a moment what things might look like today if we had been instructed to avoid refined sugar, gluten, and industrial seed oils with the same intensity that we’ve been advised to avoid contact with other humans?
Or if we were as vigilant about using natural products and avoiding toxic chemicals as we are about wearing masks?
And what if we were as dedicated to going outside, exercising, breathing in fresh air, exposing ourselves to microbiome-building bacteria and getting Vitamin D from natural sunlight (low Vitamin D has continually been linked to higher mortality rates among COVID-19 patients) as we have been to staying indoors where the air quality is often extremely poor (especially in households that use heaps of chemical-filled products to excessively clean and sanitize)?
Not only would we actually be healthier + more well as a society, we would also collectively have a profound sense of confidence and trust in our bodies.
We would feel more at peace, knowing that we’ve taken proactive measures to create a healthy, robust immune system capable of fighting off sickness and disease.
We all have a choice – do we want to play offense or defense with our health? Do we want to be proactive and do the things that we know have a deeply positive impact on health and well-being (like eating real food, getting adequate sleep, exercising, connecting with others and avoiding toxic chemicals)? Or will we simply let life happen to us and put very little thought/intentionality into optimizing our health?
The offensive route takes effort, especially in this day and age. It’s easy and cheap to eat a standard american diet, use conventional products and be a couch potato…until it isn’t.
Easy because doing these things goes along with the everyday flow + status quo of life for most Americans.
Not easy because at some point, this lifestyle will take its toll. And when it does, the accumulation of decades of poor lifestyle choices will more often than not result in chronic disease and expensive healthcare bills.
Which option will you choose? Will you prioritize eating well, sleep, exercise, avoiding toxins and living a life filled with purpose, connection and meaning? None of us do all of these things perfectly all the time, but we can all give it our best shot. The more of us that can commit to doing better, the more prepared we’ll all be to fend off anything that threatens our health and happiness.