To Statin Or Not To Statin: self-constructed decisions of optimal longevity
We are born to be wild. We are also born for design. We are born with the infinite power and choice to design our lives whichever way we like. From self-fulfilling career opportunities to self-nourishing lifestyle medicine practices, our customizable and tailored design for choice and action shapes the direction for which we end up and the outcomes for which we obtain. Every choice and action, big or small, molds our existence and outcomes into being. When constructing and designing the breadth of our lives, there are moments and unimaginable circumstances that move beyond our control and need for symmetry and bliss. At other times that I would consider the majority, however, we have the infinite power of decision to move ourselves towards a self-nourishing and loving state rather than a self-destructing and loathing state. Our capability to encompass such a self-nourishing and health-promoting state is best written by author Tom Rath in his book “Eat. Move. Sleep.” We may not have the ability to alter our genes or family history but we most certainly hold the influence for powerfully altering our family future and the expression of our genes. With such a dominant power in our possession, we truly can direct the pathway of our longevity into optimal bliss. Each decision, microscale or macroscale, pulls us away or nudges us towards more health-promoting, longevity-favoring lifestyles and outcomes. What can be better than adding quality years to life and life to years in pure happiness with the ones you love?
When thinking about the construction of our lives what image comes to mind? Does this well-designed and self-constructed life conjure up an image of optimal health and well-being or one ridden with cancer, diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease? Although one would never wish to be diagnosed and stricken with any of the aforementioned diseases, our lifestyle choices would indicate otherwise. Given the prevalence of such PREVENTABLE diseases here in the US, the vision of optimal health and well-being has been blurred by the normalized use of pharmaceuticals over physical activity and other health-promoting lifestyle medicine strategies. The use of overflowing and overmedicated pill boxes to, at the very most, mask the symptoms of a much larger cause compounds an even greater problem that is usually slow to discussion: the unbalanced utilization of prescription pads, pharmaceuticals and pharmacies over forks, feet, and fingers.
While accounting for approximately 610,000 deaths annually, heart disease has quickly become the number one killer of both men and women. To combat such numbers, statins have become the primary pharmaceutical defense for minimizing the risks-such as heart disease, stroke and heart attack-associated with untreated high cholesterol. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, twenty-six percent of all adults over the age of 40 are taking statins as of 2012, making them the most commonly used cholesterol-lowering drug. Unfortunately, the ease with which it takes to fill a prescription oftentimes trumps the viable, practical, and significant conversation about the role intensive lifestyle changes have on reducing and reversing chronic disease. We, as a society, must not become so transfixed on the ease of prescribing pills that we dismiss practical and sustainable opportunities for improved health, optimal longevity, and informed decision making by way of lifestyle medicine strategies.
Why pharmaceuticals? Dean Ornish, physician, President and Founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in California and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, has provided us with clinical and scientific evidence that intensive lifestyle changes can reverse and prevent chronic disease, including but not limited to, heart disease. The beauty in such intensive lifestyle medicine practices does not lie in a scheduled annual physical or refilled prescription but rather our infinite power and choice to design our lives whichever way we like. We have the power to LOVE LIFE and embrace its beauty in optimal health or FEAR DEATH by morbidly living out the last 10, 15 or 20 years of our existence. A morbid existence dependent on pharmaceutical interventions can certainly be an option but one I would hope wouldn’t be heavily pursued. Pursuing lifestyle medicine strategies, on the other hand, can allow us to gain more in health and longevity than in the unwanted behaviors we are giving up.
Lifestyle medicine, with its bountiful resources, provides a wide array of prescriptions that assist us in leading a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle. Although most prominently known for its exercise and nutritional components, lifestyle medicine encompasses and provides a diverse range of solutions for achieving optimal health and longevity while collaborating with feet and fork approaches. This wide array of prescriptions aids in bridging the gap between knowing and doing while developing our sense of self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation. From community support and sleep management strategies to stress reduction and meditation, you have the flexibility to start your journey wherever you see fit. The beauty of lifestyle medicine lies in its flexibility, void of a timeline and defined starting point. There is no strict, specific order for where you need to start. Whether you decide to incorporate more wholesome, nutrients in your day or reduce work-related stress, choose a starting prescription that best suits you and provides an optimal vehicle for change. You decide where you want to start and what outcomes you are looking to achieve. Choose LIFE(style), a healthier alternative to the norm with a lot less side effects and much more happiness!
Best in health and happiness,
Colleen M. Faltus, MS, CWWS, CPT
CDC: Heart Disease Facts . (2015 , August 10). Retrieved from Centers For Disease Control and Prevention : http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
Rath, T. (2013). Eat. Move. Sleep. In T. Rath, Eat. Move. Sleep (p. 46). Missionday.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Colleen M. Faltus
I earned my BS degree in Applied Exercise Science from Springfield College (2008) and MS degree in Nutrition and Health Promotion at Simmons College (2015). I currently hold certifications through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and National Wellness Institute (NWI) as a certified personal trainer and worksite wellness specialist. Additionally, I am a member of the Worksite Wellness Council of MA as well as an active committee member for their annual conference.
Colleen has experience writing and speaking about lifestyle medicine at both the individual and population health level. My expertise also lies in the design and implementation of people-centric health and well-being programs, with previous experience in both the commercial sector at Sports Club LA and Equinox as well as corporate sector at Google and State Street Corporation. My knowledge and expertise in the development and implementation of individual and population-based health and well-being programs embodies the significance of lifestyle medicine solutions for sustainable, positive health outcomes.
Specialties: organizational health and well-being program planning and implementation, lifestyle medicine practices and solutions, disease and stress-management, individual and population-based exercise prescriptions