We all know that we should eat better and take more exercise. I don't need to be told this anymore - nor do I need more evidence. So why is eating better and taking more exercise a simple act of doing the right thing?
We all buy exercise machines, join health clubs, go on diets, join Weight Watchers - but most of us give up and fail to do what we know we should do. Why?
Even threats of death do not work - 98% of heart patients after a while fail to follow their doctors' orders. Why
For years politicians, health leaders, school officials have stressed the importance of eating better and taking more exercise - but we don't do it. Why?
The answer is that how we eat and live is part of our identity. As is smoking. To change something this fundamental requires for most of us more than an act of will or even the threat of death.
As my friend Alan Deutschmann tells it we would rather Die than Change our identity. Knowing what to do - being told what to do - will not work in most cases.
We need a process that is specifically designed to get us through this barrier. We do know what this is.
To make this kind of change usually requires that we start the change in a safe place surrounded by like minded people that we know will not judge us. It requires that we are able to start with baby steps at our own pace. It requires that we then move from this beginner phase to a place where we too see that others look to us. Where we can actually make a difference to others. In short we we stop being helpess and start to see that we can help others.
Sounds a tall order. Sounds Utopian. No this is what UFIT has done. Who and what is UFIT?
Here is a series of links that may answer that question. In the interim - here is a recent news item on the CBC that will tell you a lot in just over 3 minutes.
The UFIT story is I think more than a good local story about a couple who have done well.
I think that this is a story about the future of health care and education.
Most of what ails us today are "social diseases" such as diabetes, heart disease. Even many cancers will have social factors. When we feel helpless and isolated, this drives a huge stress load that eats away at our immune system.
The healthcare system can help with the symptoms but not the causes. UFIT offers a model that shows how we can help with the causes.
- Very low barriers to entry - it costs very little ($5) and it takes place at your local school not a swanky gym.
- Very low emotional barriers to entry - lots of people there who are just like you - lots of support
- Very low technical barriers - all start at their own pace - its a group but you are also you
- Very fast positive feed back - you start feeling better right away both physically and emotionally
- Very fast move from outsider to insider and then to leader and status
- A whole world of social support that extends beyond the classes to doing stuff with each other that helps others
I think that such a model can be applied to a wide range of health issues.
I think that most of our modern disease is derived from social separation and that designs that help us find our way home to being part of something good will make a huge difference.
More on this later but in closing today - if you have any doubts about how powerful this process can be please watch this. I defy you not to be startled.Disclosure - I am a long term friend and advisor to Eireann and Gord