I talk about lifestyle change with my patients daily.
One of those conversations occurred last weekend. A previously healthy woman had a major health scare -- chest pain, followed by a cardiac arrest. She was resuscitated and I performed an emergency angioplasty on her in the middle of the night to open a completely occluded left anterior descending coronary artery.
Luckily, she recovered quite well in the hospital, and I had a conversation with her and her husband about diet and lifestyle. She was hesitant about changing her diet, saying that she felt that this would be very hard for her.
Her husband said, "Honey, you almost died. You have to do this. Or you will have another heart attack."
Fear is a big motivator. But it doesn't do well to lead to permanent changes. Fear eases as the acute event becomes more distant. Positive reinforcement is a better motivator to make change.
I love how Dean Ornish says it: "...re-framing the reason for changing from fear of dying to joy of living."
Because, living a healthy lifestyle makes you FEEL good. Eating clean and exercising gives you more energy, more vitality, better mood.
Lifestyle change is hard. But, in the long run, when you live cleaner, you live happier. And that's how I want to frame the conversation with my patients -- good habits aren't punishment, they are changes that will lead to a happier, healthier, and longer life.