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Guest: Dr. Vimal George
Release Date: 1/10/2021
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Steve Washuta: Welcome to the Trulyfit podcast where we interview experts in fitness and health to expand our wisdom and wealth. I am your host Steve Washuta, co-founder of truly fit and author a Fitness Business 101. On today’s podcast, I speak with Dr. Vimal Thomas George. Dr. George is an MD who practices medicine at a multi-specialty clinic in Austin, Texas where he lives he also has a master’s degree in health care quality and safety management.
We are going to be discussing his book health inflames which you can find at Health inflames calm, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dr. George’s book. And because of that, I thought it would be fun to take a different perspective and try to push back as a devil’s advocate in this conversation rather than just pat, Dr. George on the back and tell him how great his book is. And I believe it worked. It really made the conversation more fruitful and expansive and allowed him to unpack his thoughts and his sort of thesis of the book.
We go over his macro thoughts on why consumerism and corporatism lead to bad lifestyle choices from the general population, which in turn lead to bad health choices. And it is a great conversation. We don’t go over everything in the book, especially sort of the nuances of his beliefs. So it’s still worth getting the book again at health and flames calm. And with no further ado, here is Dr. George and I. Dr. George, thank you so much for joining the truly fit podcast.
We’re here to discuss your book health influence, which I thought was an amazing book. And because I probably agree with 90% of the book, maybe there’s a little bit of pushback from some of the things we could change in the medical industry. I thought it would be more fruitful of a conversation for me to play a bit of an antagonist here a devil’s advocate, so the format is going to be a little bit different.
The audience don’t feel bad for him. He is certainly up for this intellectual sparring as my interlocutor. Yeah. But I will be asking some questions that may be pushed against some of the things you say in your books so that you can you know, further unpack that and prove your points. But why don’t you give the audience a summary of your credentials and your sort of intellectual pursuits? And then also of of your book?
Vimal George: Yeah. Okay, thank you so much for having me. First of all, Steve, I really appreciate the chance to come on your show and talk to your listeners. So a little bit about me, I’m a family physician. I work in Austin, Texas, I’ve been here for between 15 and 20 years doing a medical practice here in a fairly good-sized multi-specialty group.
So in that 15 years, over time, I’ve, you know, kind of taken on positions from Chief of family medicine to eventually chief of population health for our patients in the Central Texas area. And what I learned is that from that vantage point, I kind of saw what a lot of my physician colleagues I’m sure familiar with a lot of health care providers are familiar with, and really a lot of people the in the audience are probably aware of, which is that you know, rail, you know, rates of chronic disease are increasing year over year, whether you’re looking at rates of diabetes, hypertension, colon cancer, Alzheimer’s, Major Depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, a lot of these various diseases are actually increasing year over year. And moreover, you know, obesity rates are increasing as well, right.
And so, you know, it’s shocking, you know, to a lot of folks listening out there, but 73% of, of our adult population in the US is either overweight or obese at this point. And that is actually increasing year over year. And so, you know, basically, what that points do is that the traditional advice that we’ve been giving folks follow a healthy diet and exercise, it’s just not working.
It’s just, that there’s nothing wrong with the advice, it is something that is still foundational is going to help, but for whatever reason, we’re not able to implement that in there in our lifestyle. And so I kind of take a step back, take a look at the reasons for why we’re not successful in implementing that and propose a solution for doing so.
Steve Washuta: And you believe that consumerism plays a role in that, if not, the, the major role in that and I call it corporatism. I think it’s just semantics here, meaning, you know, that what the corporations do, as insofar as you’re pushing products to us that we may not need and how we react around that. And that’s, I don’t want to talk for you, but that’s sort of more of the thesis of your book, correct?
Vimal George: Yeah, more or less. That’s right. You know, if you look at you know, if you mix, our, our, our human nature, which, by human nature, we tend to chase After pleasures and mistake, pleasure for happiness.
On the one hand, if you mix that with a system of capitalism on the other hand, then when you put those two together, what you come up with is what I termed in the book, mindless consumerism, which is, this notion that we tend to overspend, chasing after things that are going to make us happy. But in the end, actually doesn’t impact happiness. And if it does, it does so in an adverse way and in a negative fashion. So,
Steve Washuta: and I’m going to bookmark that because that is going to lead into the intrinsic versus extrinsic that you talked about in the book, and that we’ll talk about that a little bit later. But I kinda want to start with some of the things that you start with in the book and follow that order.
You’re talking about death statistics right away, and you know, we all die, and what do deaths, what could be good possible deaths that aren’t all deaths, that’s bad, give me a country that you say, oh, I want their death stats, they’re better than ours.
Vimal George: You know, I guess, in the end, we do all guys. So there’s something to that. However, what I’d like to suggest is that a lot of folks, you know, we we can actually live a healthy life until we die. And that’s something that we’ve kind of mistakenly assumed that with advancing age, comes chronic disease, it’s automatic. And in fact, there’s evidence for that. And in many populations, that’s not the case and that doesn’t have to be the case.
And in particular, if you look at prehistoric societies, pre-industrial cities, a lot of patient populations, a lot of those populations of people never developed the sort of chronic diseases that we develop in old age. Now, I don’t want to I don’t want to minimize the improvements we’ve had, you know, as a society, we’ve, we’ve definitely achieved a longer lifespan, we’ve overcome infectious diseases.
But as we’ve overcome these infectious diseases, we’ve kind of graduated from the diseases of poverty to the diseases of affluence. And so, you know, we don’t we’re not seeing malnutrition to the extent that we used to, we’re not seeing infectious diseases to the extent we used to, instead, we’re seeing things like diabetes and obesity and other chronic diseases, which I’d like to suggest, again, that there’s not, it wasn’t necessary that we have to take the bad with the good, there’s a way to do it, where we don’t have to, you know, that we can actually take the good and not have to take the debt. But the bad along with that, you can have your cake and eat it too.
Steve Washuta: Well, speaking again, about those companies and sort of the consumerism or corporatism, whatever, we want to call it here to semantics. And they do certainly take advantage of us. I had a Ph.D. psychologist on the podcast the other day, it’s not out yet, but we’ll probably be out right before this, who worked for the food companies.
He explained how basically he helped them with their marketing from a psychological standpoint, in making sure let’s say the packages were of colors, where our eyes send signals to our brain to tell us Oh, these are nutrient-dense because they’re they mirror colors of let’s say a blueberry and things of this nature now.
What are you know, I’m a sticks and carrots guy, I don’t necessarily think that you are but what are some sticks that we can throw at these corporations or companies to stop them from doing this? Or do you believe that it is also the consumer to make these decisions to not eat these?
Vimal George: Um, that’s a great question. So I can suggest that on an individual basis, any consumer can opt-out of this toxic mix of factors, whereby we tend to chase things that are not good for us and in the hopes of increasing our happiness.
So from an individual perspective, you know, each of us we can actually decide on what we’re going to buy or not buy, right. And so what helps to know is that there’s a large, there’s, there’s a good degree of science behind what sort of things improve our well-being and happiness, and what sort of purchases do not.
And I go into some better detail in the book about this. But you know, basically, once you get past your, and this is oversimplifying the point, so I’ll reference a book, but once you get past meeting your basic needs, that is once you get past, having food, shelter, clothing, water, you know, all those securities, all those basic needs, then the best things in life are free.
That means that there’s a lot of those, that that means that you know, instead of pursuing a lot of those purchases that then are likely to translate to less happiness. We can actually take that money, invest it and get To the point of becoming financially independent, which opens up a number of possibilities for us a certain freedom that we largely do not have in terms of today’s society.
Steve Washuta: I love happiness studies, personally, you cite a lot of them in your book, if they make me happy to read happiness study, the contrarian in me tries to pick apart Well, you know, what, what, what exactly is the definition of happiness? Because that is difficult to define, right? It’s quite vague. And can you explain how you talk about in the book, and the studies talk about the difference between, like life satisfaction and emotional wellbeing as happiness gauges?
Vimal George: Yeah, that’s really interesting research. So if you look back, you know, there was a fascinating study that came out in 2011 2010 2011, by Daniel Kahneman and Agnes Deaton, who are two Nobel Prize Laureates in economics. And what they came to find is that actually, what all the headlines at that time said is that past an income about of about 75,000. Additional increases in income, don’t translate to greater happiness.
So up until 75,000, you know, the more you make, the better after that, there’s a very quick, diminishing return on any additional income. Now, that’s what the headline said. But that’s not actually what their studies showed, there were actually two different ways in which they define happiness, as you alluded to. So the first was in terms of emotional well-being. And then the second was what they called life satisfaction.
Emotional well-being, that’s the sort of day-to-day happiness that we talked about, you know, how are you feeling on a day to day on a minute-by-minute basis? And that is what that $75,000 threshold was referring to. But if you look at life satisfaction, the research actually shows is that you know, life satisfaction continues to increase beyond that $75,000 threshold.
What is life satisfaction is basically asking someone, how satisfied they are with their lives. Looking back, so instead of asking, How are you feeling right now? It’s looked back on the whole of your life, and how do you feel? And what they found is that, you know, beyond that, sounds no special that and life satisfaction continues to increase as income increases?
Steve Washuta: Yeah. And and I’m just glad you brought that up and wrote that in your book, because a lot of people quote that economists study specifically that’s 75k, to happiness thing, and then they just close the book. They go, Oh, that’s 35k. Everybody’s happy. I don’t know what everyone’s worried about. And then, you know, in addition to that, we also have the Easterlin paradox if you want to quickly talk about how that factors then.
Vimal George: Yeah. So Richard Easterlin, who’s a professor in, I believe, California, he, he came up with this set of data that showed that if you look at past societies, so decades ago, a person who is wealthier than another person in that same society tends to be a little bit happier. But if you look at societies over time, that person, for example, we are much wealthier than we were, let’s say 50 years ago, but as a society, we’ve not increased in happiness to any significant extent. And also last, yeah, last decade, sorry.
Steve Washuta: So isn’t that also like, sort of a modern-day comparison is like if you live on a street and everyone makes the same amount of money, and you make a certain amount of money, but you’re not necessarily happier. It’s, it’s, it’s based on the people that are surrounding you and how much they make, correct? Yes,
Vimal George: that’s right. That’s, that’s exactly, you know, the, the the way to look at it, which is this phenomenon of social comparison. So we tend to just by human nature, compare ourselves to those around us, if we’re doing better than we tend to be happier, we’re doing worse and less happy, less happy.
Steve Washuta: So there’s, you know, there are public intellectuals like Steven Pinker. There’s a guy who Michael Shellenberger, who was a former environmentalist, and these are people who say, you know, everyone’s talking about doom and gloom, and we have to worry about our society and there’s a sense of what they call alarmism and they go you know, what, just wait it out time, time will heal all will have enough technology to fix everything. Yeah. Did you disagree with that? Can you tell us why?
Vimal George: Yeah, I actually do you know, I love that book, Steven Pinker enlightenment now, which is a great book, it’s I actually agree with many of the things that he shows statistics-wise. So if you look at, you know, again, rates of extreme poverty, it’s dropped dramatically, you know, huge drops in extreme poverty over the last several decades.
In fact, over the last 100 years, if you look at rates of infectious diseases, again, it’s it’s decreasing, if you look at rates of infant mortality, you know, you could look at all these various statistics, even levels of violence. And what you see is an improvement over time. And I don’t want to put words in into Steven Pinker’s mouth, but, you know, his his basic conclusion is that, you know, we we can, we can continue on the same path.
And we should be able to realize further gains, let’s not be alarmed about you know, every single, you know, step back when there are two or three steps forward, that we will realize in time. What I’d like to suggest, though, is that, you know, this, this is something that what has happened, if you look at some statistics that Dr. pinker does not look at, which is, you know, the rise of chronic diseases, for example, then over time, we’ve actually grown unhealthier.
Yes, we have grown healthier in the sense that we’re not suffering from infectious diseases, or the diseases of malnutrition, as I mentioned, but now we’re just developing chronic diseases. Now, if you look at the traditional advice or the advice that our politicians give us, it’s to spend even more, and by spending more, we will innovate, and by innovating, we will find cures for chronic diseases that we cannot even contain in today’s world.
So not only will be able to manage diabetes, will be able to cure diabetes, will cure Alzheimer’s will cure cancer. And so, you know, in a real sense, there is some truth to that. And yet, and yet, what I say, in response to that is that you know, by, by curing these various chronic diseases, which is itself a good thing to do. But you know, by not by focusing on greater economic growth, which is greater GDP growth, we’ve kind of missed the, the, the purpose of which we are striving for, which is increasing our well being and our happiness.
By pursuing ever greater GDP growth, maybe we’ll become increasingly productive. But by continuing to be sedentary as we are, you know, and thereby enabling us to become productive, that doesn’t translate to an increase in healthier lifestyles. So that doesn’t mean that we are going to be exercising, like we should be, that we’re going to eat a healthy diet, that we’re going to get adequate sleep, those things to us, are already free to us.
Those, in other words, those things are already available to us in today’s world, we don’t need some sort of technological innovation, to get to implementing that, right. I mean, we just need to take advantage of the fact that that is available to us, if only we were free enough to be able to do that we’re unfortunately tied to a certain sort of living, which is a hazardous form of living, which is modern-day employment, where we’re stuck to a desk from eight to five, followed by, you know, sitting through traffic to and from work for years, or even decades on end.
So despite the increasing productivity, our health isn’t in decline. And the fundamental reason we’re seeing a drop in levels of happiness over the last few decades is actually driven by the decline in our health, and the rise of chronic disease.
Steve Washuta: Yeah, and your speaking of jobs, are their studies to talk about how to be really happy at your job, you need a combination, hopefully, both of having autonomy or agency, and then also having purpose, right, you need these things, right? If you’re always told what to do, and you feel like there’s no reason to do it, you’re not going to be happy.
If you have a little bit of wiggle room where you can do some things that you think are important, and you think you’re helping, and you have that agency and purpose, then that’s going to lead to success. How do we get more of that? Who does that? Well, and how do we copy that? Yeah,
Vimal George: yeah. So that gets to the fundamental find, which is the sort of the solution that I talked about in the book, which is you know, if we are aware of this concept of mindless consumerism that is that you know, once you’ve met your basic needs, that the best things in life they’re happening Are, are free. And again, there’s a lot of caveat there that I’ll have to reference you to read the book to get to that.
But you know, you’ll get to that point. And once you see that, what you’re, what you’ll realize is that you can do a lot more, you can put away a lot more of your money into investments than the typical financial advisor would recommend. So if you talk to most financial advisors, don’t say to, by the way, 10%, or 20%, and that’s fine if you’re going to retire late in life, and oftentimes with a lot of chronic diseases.
What I’d like to suggest is for most of us, if, you know, we, we are aware of this, of this notion of mindless consumerism, and we decide to take control of it, then we’d be able to put away at least 30%, maybe 70% of our income, and invest that, so that you can get to the point of becoming financially independent of your employer. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that I, that I recommend, or that I hope that people will then retire, I hope that they don’t actually think that there’s a lot of value to work beyond that. But it gives you a sort of freedom from which you can live the sort of lifestyle that you are inherently capable. Yeah,
Steve Washuta: I think their stat is and don’t quote me on this something like 14% of people own a car that’s worth more than what they make in one year. So to me, that seems that seems absurd. You know, my my wife, full disclosure, as a pediatrician, we’re a one car family. And it’s not a fancy car. Because it’s, you know, it’s not an asset.
It only depreciates and there’s no point of having two or three cars in our family, we work fine with just one car. And I think no, leading to these sorts of lifestyles are important down the road, it’s difficult to get people to do that, because there is a sort of keeping up with the Jones going on in our society and with social media and everything else, it’s, you know, I guess I would say, I’m maybe less optimistic than you that there’s going to be that there’s going to be a turnaround.
But before we get to your optimism or lack thereof, I want to talk about the retirement because you just hit on that. There. There is also like a new way of thought of, well, there are chronic diseases, I don’t know if I’m gonna be living till I’m 70. What, why don’t I just take short-term vacations, so that I could live it up a little bit and not worry about stacking that money away? What are your thoughts on that?
Vimal George: Yeah, I mean, you know, most people probably are dependent on their paycheck on a month to month basis, unfortunately, that it even in our short term, mini-vacation or mini-retirement, I think it doesn’t seem plausible for for a lot of folks, I’d like to suggest that’s very possible. If if, again, you buy into this notion that that, you know, once you get past your basic needs, the best things in life are free, and then invest the rest of that income.
You know, let me just kind of add to something you said, which is, you know, about how we sent to tend to overspend on cars, just to add another dimension to that, look at the size of houses over time. And, you know, if you look us several decades back, you know, our houses now are almost three times the size, it was in the 1950s.
Yet levels of happiness have actually declined. And so it just kind of speaks to the as a society, as you know, US society, our levels of happiness actually declined. And so it kind of speaks to the notion that, you know, a lot of our spending is intended to increase happiness, but it’s actually reverse. The reality is reverse of that.
Steve Washuta: Can we discuss, pay for performance? You talked about this in your book now that we are kind of talking about jobs and money and all of that, I think it’s a good time. What is your sort of macro and micro thoughts on pay for performance? And how do we, how do we fix that? And what’s a better alternative? If you don’t like pay for performance?
Vimal George: Yeah, yeah, that’s great, you know, Daniel Pink, who, you know, does a lot of research and on this, really kind of, you know, spoke to this in a way that that is really revealing, which is, pay for performance works at a very rudimentary level where, you know, if you’re, if you don’t require a lot of cognitive skills, you know, maybe just routine work, for example, where you don’t have to think about things, then paying more, and slaves to better performance. Whereas once you have even the most rudimentary of cognitive scale involved, then paying more on nothing doesn’t improve outcomes.
Three performance seems to go down in a lot of cases. And so even though it strikes us as obvious almost that by paying more for performance, we should be able to improve performance. It’s quite the contrary, in those cases where more than rudimentary cognitive skills are involved. So what I’d like to suggest is that there’s a better system, which is that if we can get to the point, where we are no longer dependent on our income for our daily expenses are our daily living our day to day living, then our performance takes off in a way that it cannot.
Because we tend to now focus on extrinsic rewards, which is money, right. And so when we, when you take money off the table, by being financially independent, your performance actually takes off to a different level of performance. You know, I, I oftentimes hear folks comment on, on people like Elon Musk, and how, what a genius he is, right. And, and, and I don’t want to take away anything from Elon, he really is a genius in a lot of ways.
But I’d like to suggest that a lot of us here, a lot of folks listening here are in you know, have some sort of genius within themselves, they just never had the chance to look up and see things from a perspective that very few in today’s world actually get to, which is the point of financial independence, where you can afford to actually lookout, where you have the time to be able to say, hey, you know what, maybe I don’t want to do this particular thing, I want to focus on this aspect of my work.
Maybe that’s not what the boss wants. But that’s what you want to do, and you have the leverage to be able to do that, then you actually start to see things in a way that you can’t, when you’re tied to a desk from eight to five, you know, Monday through Friday, decades on end. So I’d like to suggest a better way of living.
Steve Washuta: Let me walk you through this hypothetical here. And now that we’re, you know, my brain is going now that we’re talking about this pay for performance. And we mentioned before, you know, sticks and carrots, how do we get people to do the right things? And I think it’s already been tried before, I’m not sure if successfully or not. And I don’t know if there’s again, this is going to be your wheelhouse if medically like this is like against what one would do as a practitioner or what medical insurance would do.
But why isn’t their sort of a very regimented tiered structure of what people are paying for health insurance based on their health? And I’m not just talking about BMI, which again, is sort of I have another question for you. Why do we use BMI to me? It’s so antiquated, we have better variables to use to measure someone’s health, but why aren’t there 15 markers of health that we all agree on?
And then we go, okay, if you need, let’s say, 13 of these 15 markers, you basically pay nothing for health insurance. And you know, if you’re smoking, then you pay more, and there’s sort of like a tiered system, would that work? Is that is that not? Okay? Because it’s, it may be it benefits, the affluent?
Vimal George: Um, you know, it, it sort of is the system that we kind of went away from so that there is there was sort of a tiered system, to the extent that chronic diseases were often exclusionary criteria for getting insurance in the first place.
Okay. I’m not sure that that really kind of helped us to get control of chronic disease, any more than it does now. So, you know, with respect to BMI, that’s an interesting comment. Yes, BMI is not the most accurate measure of, of our, you know, our health status. In fact, if you look in men, you know, particularly for men, it’s a, it’s somewhat inaccurate, you know, if you look at folks who have a lot of muscle mass, yeah, they’re gonna have an elevated BMI.
But the problem is, that BMI is actually a pretty good measure in our population in the US, and the reason for that is because we don’t have an epidemic of bodybuilders. So So in other words, if you’re overweight, chances are it’s not because your body will build it’s usually because of certain aspects of our health, which are are not good. So
Steve Washuta: yeah, I mean, I listen that that makes sense to me. I guess you’re right. It’s not like everyone who goes to the doctor’s office is coming in looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he goes, my next big I do I lift a lot. That’s why I’ve high BMI, but I just felt like, you know, it was a bit antiquated, but, you know, it’s staying sort of in this medical system, because, you know, a lot of the book, again, is about consumerism, and how that plays into it and how we need to make better choices for ourselves.
But there’s also you know, the there are problems in all of our systems, right? And that’s what we do best As humans just locate those problems and fix those problems. And I think, you know, talking about in the book, you talk to Sam as your avatar. Patient, right? And Sam, I’m going to make this up and you can correct me if I’m wrong.
Maybe he’s like his mid-50s. He’s your typical CEO, works too many hours, has a few beers in the weekend isn’t really paying attention that much to his health, maybe it’s a salad, you know, for lunch, but it’s, it’s covered in bad dressing. Anyway, so against the salad anyway, you know, Sam is my sort of my avatar personal training client.
And, you know, I think we’re maybe the process goes awry is that we check in with Sam, we being let’s say, the medical you the general practitioner, Sam, Sam is overweight. And Sam is now told, okay, you need 30 minutes of exercise a day, and you need to, you know, stop eating butter.
Sam comes back six months later, he’s got high cholesterol. Okay, take this Lipitor pill and out the door. Right? So, so we’re so focused on medication? It’s, it’s, it’s pretty much the second intervention? And how do we solve that problem?
Vimal George: You know, what we’re doing is placing increasingly sophisticated bandages on our patients, right? If you think about it, and if, as you know, you read about in the book 70 to 90% of these chronic diseases, surprisingly, are preventable. And so at some level, you know, you’re you’re marveling at some of the technological sophistication we have, you know, I think of cardiovascular surgery, or neurosurgery.
Yeah, at some level, cardiovascular surgery is just so impressive, you know, the things that we could do now. And yet, what if we had prevented that patient from having coronary artery disease in the first place? Wouldn’t that have been a lot better, instead of, you know, using increasingly sophisticated technological band aids, that, you know, temporarily gets you feeling okay enough to get back to your the unhealthy lifestyle that brought you to the medical system to begin with? Why don’t we actually prevent chronic diseases?
Steve Washuta: Does that though start with the medical system, meaning if I am a general practitioner, I tell my patient, hey, this is what we have to do. This is how you’re going to be healthy.
This is how we have preventative care. And then also from the health insurance side, this is how we support preventative care, so that people can become healthy because, you know, I’ll say this, this might be a long-winded way of going about this but doctors medical doctors do is MDS is very humble. They almost never introduce themselves as a doctor if someone introduces themselves as Dr. They’re probably like a PhD in like, German dance philosophy or something. Right? So that’s, that’s my experience anyway, so And because doctors are always surrounded by other physicians, and they’re always comparing themselves to other physicians.
They’re very humble. But what I what I think they don’t see why that’s a blessing and a curse or double-edged sword is because the rest of the general population sees you guys. It’s like, omniscient. And whenever the doctor says it’s final, so if the doctor says take lipid poor, it’s over. I don’t, I don’t need to fix myself, I just need to pick the pill. And the medicine fixes everything.
I’ll even add to that, that, you know, Dr. George, I don’t have a client, or I hate talking absolutes, but I would say 80% of my clients are on zero medication, or they’re on a ton of medications. Because once you take one you go, it fixes everything. And then you just continue to take medication. So I guess, you know, that was a long-winded way of saying, do we need the medical community to really be leading this March rather than just the general population?
Vimal George: Um, you know, I think so, to some extent, you know, of course, that advice of healthy diet and exercise are, are definitely the fundamental pillars of good healthy living. And so, you know, you can’t get around a bit, you know, it’s not like you can skip that part, right. So that that’s still fundamentally important, but there are some real impediments to to it for most people to be able to implement that in their lifestyle, right? Again, if they are in, stuck in, they’re tied to a desk, eight to five, and, you know, plus traffic to and from work.
You know, oftentimes, most of my patients I tried to talk about this, they have good intentions, they’ll say, Hey, I’m going to be I’m going to definitely follow through on the healthy diet exercise. But they come back and it just doesn’t get implemented. Because you know, they, they’re in a rush oftentimes, they don’t have time to prepare a nourishing dinner. Lunch is often on the go breakfast if anything if they get to practice it’s breakfast taco or a coffee. You know, they just they don’t there’s not enough time for real nourishing food. And so you know, combined with the sedentary lifestyle, This is really a health hazard in a way that a lot of folks don’t recognize and appreciate.
Steve Washuta: Yeah, there’s a work life balance problem that goes on in life now more so than ever, to the point where people are burning out. And I think part of the issue is what you said before, I think some people just can’t afford to not have the next paycheck. And that’s a problem.
But then we have to look, not only I think people tend to not look externally, also, wouldn’t you say in the book and say, Where can I cut from? Do I need to live this lifestyle? Do I need to live in this big of a house? Can I cut from other areas to have a healthier work-life balance, which in turn means that I’m eating the right foods, my body’s healthier, I don’t have to worry about chronic diseases, and all of these things sort of snowball together to make you a happier, healthier person. And that’s really the thesis of the book. That’s right.
Vimal George: That’s right. You know, Steve, there’s a famous economist that a lot of your listeners will undoubtedly know, John Maynard Keynes, who is a depression era economists in the 1930s. He famously predicted that in our time, that this, you know, 2020s 2030s, we would only need to be working 10 to 15 hours a week.
Because our productivity would increase to such an extent, which, in fact, it has, we are much more productive than, you know, those who lived in the US 100 years ago, in the time that Keynes predicted this. Sure, he was wrong. But I’d like to suggest he didn’t need not have been more wrong, right? You know, what, in his time, actually, most people had a single family, a single person income, most fans, right, as opposed to most families. Now, both, both parents work, you know, the mom and dad both work, right.
And yet, somehow are still struggling to be able to make a living on a paycheck to paycheck basis. And we shouldn’t have ever gotten to that extent. And again, you know, step back and see that the, you know, the types of cars that we have the types of houses that we have the enormous amount of spending, which isn’t translating to an increase in happiness. If it was and that’s justified, that’s perfectly fine. But in fact, what we see and I, as I display and a graph in the book, despite the ever-increasing GDP trends, levels of happiness have actually declined in the United States, in particular in these last few decades.
Steve Washuta: Yeah. And that’s, it seems unbelievable, but it is, it is the truth, however, you measuring happiness. And, you know, I, I see everything now through the lens of a parent, I just became apparent five months ago. And so I want to talk a little bit about that, because, you know, a burden that a lot of people have finances, financial decisions, that that weren’t necessarily theirs, meaning like, they came from a background in which you know, that the parents didn’t make good decisions on their behalf.
And one of them is, at least in my opinion, that’s why I’m throwing this to you is college. Do you think that everybody should go to college? Do you think that we should have more trade schools? Do you think that there? Is this a looming issue of college debt? Is this something that is leading to this unhappy lifestyle?
Vimal George: Yeah, first of all, congratulations, by the way, Steve, that’s awesome. You know, I would say that everybody who wants to be able to go to college or college should have the opportunity to, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everybody should. But this college debt situation that we’re in right now is very unhealthy. So that right off the bat, oftentimes, you know, and unfortunately, our, our young, high school students, graduates, they’re, they’re not, they don’t get a good financial education.
And so, you know, when they’re comparing colleges, let’s say, you know, they might opt for the most prestigious one, or where their friends are going or, you know, some, some college where they don’t necessarily take into account the level of debt that they’re going to get into. And this is this a problem because right off the bat, they’re going to be in an in a financial hole. And as a result, you know, to climb out of that is much tougher than if they have, you know, maybe opted for a little bit less expensive of a college experience where they are able to keep from ever getting into that situation in the first place.
So, you know, I’d like to suggest that we can, we could really do a better job if we can really kind of implement some, some better financial education in the high school or college level that is likely to translate to better decisions on a financial front.
Steve Washuta: Now, in my opinion, reading the book, you Tell me if you’re wrong is you seem to sort of be glass half full, that things are gonna turn around. Although there are problems, is that not the case? Is there? Is there an ideal world where we’re more in this 1950s family centric? And maybe the 1970s community gardens and these sorts of things, and we’re all kind of working in concert and things are better? Or, or do you think it’s, it is an uphill battle.
Vimal George: Um, so I present a hopeful vision, which is different from an optimistic vision. So an optimistic vision is that, you know, just kind of sit back and things are going to get better. That’s actually sort of what Steven Pinker seems to suggest in his book, The actual in some ways, but I think that actually, we have to change the situation, you know, and change takes.
That takes real effort, there’s nothing guaranteed about change. And so is it possible to get to that sort of a state in which we as a society are doing much better? I’d suggest that absolutely, it is possible, it takes some policy interventions, which I talk about in the book, to be able to get to that, that level.
So one of which is what I just talked about, which is, you know, that financial education that we have to implement at a, at a younger age, and in fact, in high school, in college, to where people actually learn these principles, and also, the principles of which of how happiness is affected by, you know, what sort of things actually affect well being and happiness, if we can teach that, that itself is, is, you know, again, one of the policy prescriptions whereby we can, as a society actually get to a better level of way of living.
Steve Washuta: Now, I want to do some rapid-fire faults, here, I’m going to say four or five words, you can give me the first thing that comes to your mind and what you think about it in a sort of like a, you know, a 32nd, elevator pitch kind of deal. Okay. And if for some reason, you don’t know what I’m talking about, we’ll just pass we’ll go to the next one. Ready, artificial intelligence in the medical fields.
Vimal George: Um, so again, you know, it kind of points to the notion that we need to rely on technological solutions for improving our health, when, in fact, a lot of what we need is available to us right now. Healthy diet, exercise, good sleep, and managing stress, those are the pillars of healthy living, we have that available to us. We don’t need any technological innovation to get us to that point. That said, yes, there is some definitely benefit behind AI and using that in medicine to improve certain things that we can’t prevent.
Steve Washuta: Cash only doctors
Vimal George: pass. You I don’t think you know, there’s no, there’s no, with that the only problem, a lot of lists are very expensive, a lot of procedures are very expensive, you do just not get to a level of coverage, that is adequate for the population, relying on cash only docks, universal health care. universal health care is a good thing to try for. That doesn’t necessarily mean government-run health care.
So you don’t necessarily have to confuse the two, I do think we need to be independent of our employer for health for our healthcare needs. For health insurance. Right now, we’re largely still tied to an employer-based health insurance system. I do think whether that’s run by the government or private entities, that we should be striving for a universal coverage without regards to tying to our employer.
Steve Washuta: Last one here, a universal basic income.
Vimal George: Universal Basic Income won’t solve the problem of consumerism. So, you know, give a person in the middle class sign up more money, that’s not going to get them to purchase, not chase after purchasing bigger and bigger houses, or fancier and fancier cars. That’s not going to solve that problem. It will help for those folks who are below the a certain poverty line to be able to meet their daily expenses. So in which case, you don’t necessarily need to be universal. But
Steve Washuta: I want to tell all the personal trainers and fitness professionals out there, which is the vast majority of my audience, that this book is so useful for you because these are our clients. Most of our clients that we work with are people who have the money to work with us. And if they have the money to work with us, they’re not always treating their body in the right way.
They’re the people who are working 55 hours a week. They’re the people who are maybe hitting it hard on the weekends that weekend warrior as far as going out and partying and they live different lifestyles, and it’s important that we know and that we can help our clients from sort of a wholesome perspective, right? That we’re not just helping them for that one hour in the gym. We understand their lifestyles and how we can maybe even coax them into saying, Hey, I know you’ve canceled on me twice, Larry, but you have to understand, if you’re canceling on me, you’re also canceling on your health. But you decide to stay that one hour extra work all the time.
And not coming to me means you’re prioritizing your money over your health long-term, which is going to lead to diseases, which is going to lead to a bad relationship with your family and things of this nature. Right. So it’s, it is imperative that we understand that we have to hold our clients accountable, we have to understand their lifestyles. And that’s why I think this book is very fitting for fitness professionals to reach.
Vimal George: Hey, thank you so much for that, Steve. I really appreciate that. And I really appreciate the good work that you’re doing with all your clients here and in the message that you’re promoting.
Steve Washuta: Thank you. I appreciate that. And so why don’t we let the listeners Dr. George know where they can find your book and everything about it?
Vimal George: Sure the book is called Health inflames a doctor’s prescription for living beyond diet and exercise. You can find that on any of the major real retail websites, from Amazon to Barnes and Nobles, Apple, or any of the major online retailers. You can also go to help inflames.com to get more details. I do have an ask those who read the book to one, you know, hopefully you enjoy it.
And please read me Leave me a review that be helped to increase the visibility of the book to request it at your local library because I’m more interested in getting the message out there then then making a ton of money off the book. And then three, there’s a place on the website where if you really want to get involved, to help bring about benefits at a greater level for society as a whole. There’s a place on the website, you can contact me, I’d love to hear from you. Thank you so much.
Steve Washuta: Yeah, lastly, I just want to say you the book really balances anecdotes and information in a good way where it’s it’s not like you’re just reading his perspective, doctors perspective, their science, but it’s not like you’re reading a very difficult scientific paper, right? It balances those two perfectly and sort of interweaves them to make a great story. So it’s a great read. My guest today is Dr. George, thanks for joining the tools, the podcast. Thank you so much.
Steve Washuta: Thanks for joining us on the Trulyfit podcast. Please subscribe, rate, and review on your listening platform. Feel free to email us as we’d love to hear from you.
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