Last week’s theme focused on how to make a change in your life. We all know change can be tough. Heck, if change was easy, more trainers would be out of a job and there would be no need for smoking cessation programs or alcoholics anonymous.
Changing our patterns is very difficult. But what if you had a really vivid visual to work with?
What if you could physically see what was going on inside your body on some type of scale, chart or barometer?
Through technology we are actually getting fairly close to such a solution. I have one of those watches that tells me how many steps I have taken throughout the day, along with how far I have walked and how many calories I have burned.
Every couple of days, I sync it up with my account online and I can see my patterns. I can tell which days I was slacking and which days I really kicked butt! I have had days where I have doubled the recommended 10,000 steps per day and others where I barely walked half of this amount.
We are moving towards a time when we get immediate feedback on where we stand. This type of feedback could be a powerful way to change behavior.
I personally believe many people do not make changes to dangerous patterns in their life because for the most part, the consequences are invisible and/or so far into the future, they can justify not worrying about these consequences. Do you have any real way to tell if your percent body fat went up one-half of one percent this week or not? Is there a realistic way to see if your arteries got just a bit stiffer from one day to the next? Or if you blood pressure as a few points higher? Of course not. We simply don’t have this type of awareness in our biological systems and technology has not advanced that far…yet.
Here are two observations I have made recently.
Have you seen that commercial where a guy is doing the crossword and one of his answers spelled out
“Your heart attack is coming today.”
He immediately gets an alarmed look on his face and doesn’t quite know what to make of this warning. I like this commercial – very effective messaging. Don’t you? Getting a physical warning like that would certainly save a lot of lives.
Here’s another way of looking at it. When I went to catholic school as a kid, the nuns told me, every time I lie or commit a sin, a black mark appears on my soul. Looking back on it, this sounds more than a little creepy, but at the time, the visual was very effective. Who wants a ‘black soul’? Yikes! I better behave.
What if we had the equivalent of this type of barometer allowing us to physically see our health status on a day-to-day or even on an hour-to-hour basis?
The system could keep an eye on things like:
- Blood pressure
- Nutrient levels (important vitamins and minerals)
- Heart Rate
- Body fat %
- Blood alcohol levels (great feedback if you are out a bit too late)
- Triglyceride levels
- Sugar intake
- Cancer cell detection (talk about early intervention!)
- Artery diameter (to show if there was a pending blockage somewhere – maybe near the heart)
All this information could be easily displayed on your smart watch or phone.
One of the charts displayed would be your own little “health barometer” showing whether your behaviors moved you closer to a health crisis or further away. Imagine the impact on behavior if you physical saw your chart get a little ‘blacker’ – like the nuns said my soul would get – whenever you ate a greasy burger with a side of heaping French fries!
Of course the same feedback would appear for positive actions as well.
Here are some examples of the automated texts we could receive:
“Your readings indicate ideal conditions for a cardiac event”
“Your morning blood pressure reading is excellent”
“Your blood alcohol level has just exceeded legal limits”
“You have increased your muscle mass by one pound this month”
“Your body fat percentage now exceeds 30%”
“Your coronary arteries are 50% blocked. Proceed to a hospital immediately”
“You are now 30 days nicotine free!”
Now THAT is feedback that would motivate action!
Technology is not there yet…but it will be. This is my call to the brainiacs in Silicon Valley making billions of dollars creating yet another messaging app; Turn those intellects to something that can change human behavior by showing us what is going on inside our bodies and then presenting this information on a sliding Health Barometer – only visible to me and my physician…if I decide to share select information with him or her.
If we can actually see when we are harming our systems, I have to believe different choices will be made…
I now return you to 2015…Have a great week and weekend!