why are people dying
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Why are people dying today?

Scary question, right? But it’s a good one to know the answer to…

Last week I had the chance to talk with a group of college freshman about building a career in the health and wellness space. I was so grateful for the opportunity to provide some insight, and hopefully inspiration to our future leaders and health care providers.

why are people dying


As a part of my presentation, I went all the way back to my freshman year in college. Why? Because that is when I knew how I was going spend my life, how I would earn my keep on this planet and how I would strive to make a difference in this world.

How did I know at such an early age, and with such conviction that I would work in this space? It all started when my Health 101 teacher asked me in the Fall of 1994…

“Teresa, what do you think is the leading cause of death in the US today?”

Seeing as I was at the wise age of 17 at the time, I instinctually thought something like car accidents? Plane crashes? You know, the stuff you hear about on the news and they make movies out of…right? Well, in my defense, accidents are one of the top five causes of death in the US. But the total numbers are only a fraction of the real killers…

Heart disease was then and is now the #1 killer.

Cancer is catching up, quite a bit actually. But diseases of the heart are still killing more men and women in American than anything else. And by a lot! We’re talking about one out of every four deaths. So, my next logical question, as an eager-beaver teenager looking for solutions was…

Well then, what causes heart disease?

And the answer there, made my jaw drop. The teacher explained to me the key risk factors for heart disease are things like: High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, being overweight and/or obese, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use. In fact…

12/15 of the leading causes of heart disease are lifestyle related. These are choices we make.

They were then and they are today. Here’s the really puzzling part for me. As humans, we have basic instincts. And wouldn’t you think the most critical one is the instinct of survival? Learning how to stay alive? If so, then why are we choosing to kill ourselves? Albeit slowly, but essentially that’s what we’re doing.

Why are we self-selecting death as a nation?

At the wise and eager age of 17, I knew I had found my place. Not just to earn a living, but to hopefully make a difference. That answer to the question above isn’t simple — which is why it exists. And it’s not a one sized fits all approach either. Everybody has unique needs, demands and preferences. Not just physically, but psychologically. Couple that with some of the most confusing and conflicting research and guidelines coming out regularly, it’s no wonder we’re getting sicker.

Why did I decide to send to publish this post today?

Well, two reasons really. First, to remind you of not just your health but also your own mortality and the power you have it impact it. Sure, it’s nice to look good in a bikini, but it’s way more important to build a stronger, healthier body that can last longer, right? The choices you make everyday either work for you, or against you. You have more control that you might know. Not just of how long you live, but the quality of the life you live as well.

Second, to remind myself of my role, cause and charge in life. It’s so easy to get bogged down by the details and semantics it’s incredibly easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. As a health coach, my job is to keep my eye on your prize. Living longer, healthier and happier.

I want to help you choose to make smarter decisions. To understand how much control you have. To help you make sense of it all, clarify the confusing and give you simple steps you can take to improve your health and happiness. And show you how fun it can be too, right?

What can you do to take control of your health?

This is where my Clean & Colorful Concept comes in and the four universal diet truths:

  1. Eat less processed food.
  2. Eat all 5 colors every day.
  3. Drink 1 raw juice or power smoothie per day.
  4. Exercise at least 21 minutes 6 days per week.

Now I’m not saying that will “cure” heart disease, but if we could all work towards adopting those four lifestyle habits, we really could make a dent. To learn more about the diet truths, and how simple it could be to incorporate the Clean and Colorful Concept into your life, check out this post.

Teresa Marie Howes, BS, CPT, HHP
Teresa Marie is a nutrition expert, fitness enthusiast and health coach. She is backed with a BS in Nutrition, an MBA, a CPT from ACE and 16+ years of experience in the weight loss and wellness space. She is the founder and lead contributor of this site and coaches clients across the globe on how to achieve better health and more happiness by implementing the 4 Universal Diet Truths of her Clean & Colorful Concept.

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1 Comment

  • Teresa

    Hi Misty – thank you for your comment! I’ve actually run 10 marathons, so I’m pretty familiar with both the 13.1 and 26.2 mile markers 😉 But to clarify, this tracker was originally posted just before the halfway mark of our first challenge. So this 12.5 was an easy way to show how far we’d come, but illustrate, we still has a ways to go. I hope you are enjoying the challenges!

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