A Comment on the Ginormous State of the US

This story was originally published on Medium.

Did you know your weight is directly correlated with the number of sick days you miss per month?

Did you know that professional careers (teachers, lawyers, businessmen, etc) lose nearly $24 billion a year because of obesity-related absences? Crazy.

Even though I have a business degree, my real passion is fitness and helping people realize their potential. Busy professionals neglect themselves more than anyone else because they get so focused on their career and the late hours that the freedom that great health brings is lost in the hours.

Gallup, one of the leading sources of research and analytics, has done a ton of research on the economic effects of obesity and even developed a wellness index that measures the effects of ill-health on society-at-large. I also looked at this quite a lot in college domestically and internationally.

With rising health care costs, changing legislation, and increased demands that our careers bring, it’s more important than ever to maintain a fitness regimen while advancing your career to avoid burnout, manage stress, and enjoy our success down the line. The evidence is mounting for balancing your career with your health and its effects on your overall productivity.

At the end of the day, if you want to enjoy your career success, you also need success in managing your health.


First, the bad news.

For reference, Gallup.com developed the well-being index and continues to develop it, even after conducting 2.6 million interviews since 2008. Probably the most startling finding of 2017 was that being obese quadruples your risk of diabetes, especially if you’re between the ages of 35 and 39. This finding alone, they found, is costing the United States upwards of $266 BILLION in healthcare utilization and unplanned absences per year. This is money and productivity that could be used to advance your career, reduce your health insurance cost, or otherwise improve your life.

How much could you accomplish with $266B?

Even worse, more than 70% of all Americans across the board are considered overweight or obese. This is a major problem for employers and for you. Employees classified as obese had more sick days per month than their healthy counterparts.

Corporate wellness programs, unfortunately, aren’t affecting these numbers much. Most are effective in the short-term at best but face difficulty in creating a culture of health and involving their employees in the process somehow. The incentives only build external motivation, rather than internal motivation. Their leadership isn’t always fully on board, and companies that implemented successful programs have done so for a number of years.

Despite our efforts, 2017 saw a decline in overall wellness for all American citizens.

So how do we move the needle? How do we begin to affect the system and ourselves so that we can live a healthy, bright future?


The Solution.

To address the problem from an employer standpoint, we need to make sure that we’re allowing employees the flexibility to maintain a work-life balance and schedule that provides the opportunity to relax, workout, etc. While I understand that this is not the case for every business, it sure is helpful for as chaotic as life can be.

Many insurance providers now reimburse or have programs to sponsor gym memberships, so make sure you check with your provider and make your employees aware of it. If your insurance provider doesn’t, find one that does (if you can) or find another way to begin weaving health and fitness into your company culture.

Employers, corporate wellness programs generated an ROI of $1.50 to $3.80 per

Employees and those of you working in a constantly connected world, make sure you have a hard stopping time. My hard stop is at 6 pm. I don’t answer emails, phone calls, or open anything work-related after 6 pm unless someone’s copier has caught on fire and it’s a dire emergency. Otherwise, it can wait until tomorrow.

Also, get signed up through your insurance company for a gym membership or reimbursement and make it part of your morning or evening routine, whenever your “me time” is. Many gyms, like the YMCA, Gold’s Gym, and Crunch Fitness offer great classes and new member orientations to help you be successful.

If you’re nervous about going to a health club, many Gold’s Gyms and other small niche gyms provide a women-only or beginner’s class to help you get acclimated. I ran Fitness Consultations for new members to help them understand their baseline, set goals, and recommend classes, personal training, and other services. If your gym has something like this or you can get a body scan done, I highly recommend it.

If you’re looking for someone to help you program workouts and help you evaluate your current situation, schedule a 30-minute consultation with me or join my Beginner’s Challenge!

At the end of the day, we have to begin surrounding ourselves in a culture of health and activity, find a tribe that keeps us accountable, and stick to our guns until it becomes part of our permanent lifestyle. Little changes at a time will make the biggest difference.

They say there are 4 types of success: wealth, social, health, and freedom. If you want to truly enjoy wealth, social status, and freedom, you have to be healthy enough to do them. Otherwise, you’ll be bound by your health conditions and we cannot blame anyone for not managing them except ourselves.

Be sure to follow the LIFT by Les blog for more tips and (coming soon!) weekly videos!

Happy LIFTing!

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