The Unhealthiest American

The competition for the Unhealthiest American has ended. Steve won. So if your first name is not Steve, that doesn’t mean you can’t get healthier. You can and Steve will. At least he committed to it, and if you follow the plan the Lifestyle 180 team will work with him on, he will. But imagine what is it like to be called the “unhealthiest.”

Posted on | Mike Roizen, MD | Comments ()

The competition for the Unhealthiest American has ended. Steve won. So if your first name is not Steve, that doesn’t mean you can’t get healthier. You can and Steve will. At least he committed to it, and if you follow the plan the Lifestyle 180 team will work with him on, he will. But imagine what is it like to be called the “unhealthiest.”

Close your eyes and think how that would feel. First thought, “Winner…I’m the winner, and maybe I’ll magically get healthier – I’m going to the Land of Oz where magic happens.” But then a second thought comes in, “Holy mackerel, I must be really sick and those people in the Land of Oz who go into the truth tube seem to be assigned coaches who work them hard. And they have assigned not 1 coach to me, but 4.”

Yes, Steve brings up the scary part of American healthcare; he has problems with all 4 (or all 5) of the major drivers of healthcare use in the United States: tobacco, poor food choices and large portion size, physical inactivity, and stress. These have resulted in the early onset of a number of really risky conditions including sleep apnea, type II diabetes, lipid abnormalities, and lung and vascular (blood vessel) inflammation.

And he’s starting to get healthier, but it has to be as scary for him as going to an unknown area of your city when lightning disables the city’s electric grid. And, courtesy of the Land of Oz, he’s going to travel to a place far from home…another scary event. We are bringing him (not kicking and screaming, but with some apprehension) to the Cleveland Clinic Lifestyle 180 program to learn how to eat healthy, how to read labels, how to cook, and how to use healthy techniques that make food taste really, really good.

He’ll gradually introduce physical activity and learn how to increase it himself (don’t increase physical activity more than 10% in any 1 week if you start with an unhealthy, unused body as that can accelerate injury) and to manage stress and learn resilience. Big learnings…and we’ll help him quit smoking. He has to feel nervous, anxious. But hopefully excited enough to grab the habits we teach. Cause he represents the future of health and healthcare costs in America. If he grabs health (you can follow along and do it too) his health, he’ll feel better, be more employable and will save money (and not just from not having to buy cigarettes.) 

So send Steve your good wishes, and join him as he helps himself turn his life around. It won’t be easy at first – he’ll have to break his cigarette and the fast food addictions. And then remember it is his buddy, his sister in law, who turned him in because she cares. You need a buddy, we all do, and you need some mind over body at first. But then the body teaches the mind. Hopefully as Steve gets healthier he’ll join the Wellness Warrior team that coaches others to make a friend and help America be healthier. So as the coaches begin to descend on Steve, we hope he’s got the guts to commit and make it 3 weeks…cause then he’ll make it. And so may America. Remember to watch, follow, and teach others to join in.     

Mike Roizen, MD, The Enforcer

Blog written by Mike Roizen, MD
Dr. Roizen is a past chair of a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee and a former editor for 6 medical journals with...