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Dr Vimal George – A Doctor’s Prescription For Living Beyond Diet & Exercise

Content by: Dr Vimal George

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu: This week, I’m excited to welcome Dr. Vimal George to the podcast. Dr. George is a family doctor practicing medicine at the Austin Diagnostic Clinic in Austin, Texas. He has a unique and broad understanding of population health, and is the author of Health in Flames, which we discuss here.

Audio Version

downloaditunes Questions asked during our conversation:

  • How can we use technology to better our lives? (32:09)
  • How can we optimise our surroundings so that we are more likely to make better choices? (21:34)
  • Please explain your thoughts on consumerism and its impact on health. (08:08)

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The views expressed on this podcast are the personal views of the host and guest speakers and not the views of Bega Cheese Limited or 180 Nutrition Pty Ltd. In addition, the views expressed should not be taken or relied upon as medical advice. Listeners should speak to their doctor to obtain medical advice.

Full Transcript

Stu

(00:03):
Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition. And welcome to another episode of The Health Sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve a long lasting health. And I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do. Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products too. That’s right. We’re into whole food nutrition and have a range of superfoods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more, just jump over to our website. That is 180nutrition.com.au and take a look. Okay. Back to the show.

Stu

(00:44):
The views expressed on this podcast are the personal views of the host and guest speakers and not the views of Bega Cheese Limited or 180 Nutrition PTY Limited. In addition, the views expressed should not be taken or relied upon as medical advice. Listeners should speak to their doctor to obtain medical advice. This week, I’m excited to welcome Dr. Vimal George to the podcast. Dr. George is a family doctor practicing medicine at the Austin Diagnostic Clinic in Austin, Texas. He has a unique and broad understanding of population health, and is the author of Health in Flames, which we discuss here.

In the book, he draws upon research and ideas from fields as varied as finance, psychology, economics and medicine, to present a scientifically sound solution for a better and healthier way of living. In this episode, Dr. George explains his thoughts on how consumerism impacts modern day health, how we can use technology to better our lives and so much more. Over to Dr. George.

(01:44):
Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and I am delighted to welcome Dr. Vimal George to the podcast. Dr. George, how are you?

Dr. Vimal George

(01:53):
I’m doing good. Thank you so much for having me Stu.

Stu

(01:54):
Oh, look, absolutely delighted. Can’t wait to get into the conversation this morning. But first up, for all of our listeners that may not be familiar with you or your work, I’d love it if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself please.

Dr. Vimal George

(02:06):
Sure. Yeah. Happy to. So, I’m a family doctor. I live in the city of Austin, Texas. I live here with my wife and two little ones. They’re middle schoolers. And I work in a fairly large multi-specialty clinic. Worked my way up to being head of the family medicine section. And then eventually chief of quality where I was overseeing some population health programs, and then eventually left that to pursue this writing and some other interests.

Stu

(02:38):
Wonderful. Fantastic. Well, you mentioned writing and I’m intrigued about your new book called Health in Flames because I think of the myriad of different angles that you address in the book. I think it’s not your standard health book. And so I’m really intrigued to hear about your thoughts behind your writing today. So, the book’s called Health in Flames, and I guess we’ll just dive straight in. What can we expect from the book?

Dr. Vimal George

(03:10):
Sure. Yeah, you’re right. It’s not the standard approach to health. It’s not what you’re going to expect from a book about health. I do talk about diet and exercise. Of course, that’s going to be an important part of it, but there’s a lot more to it. And so, I actually look into the latest research studies from different fields, including from fields as diverse as psychology, of course, medicine, finance, and economics. And it put that together to bring about a really unique solution to improving our health that I think anyone can take advantage of. And I make the promise in the book that, after you read the book you’re going to feel that you’re going to be optimistic about your future in the sense that you’ll be healthier, wealthier, happier, and simply more engaged. So those are some big promises that I hope that I’ll be able to deliver to all my readers. And I feel confident about that if you get to read that book.

Stu

(04:07):
So, why the inspiration? I mean health is our number one concern. Health is the one thing that we work so hard on each and every day. And when we lose our health then we struggle to get it back. Why did you write that particular book? What was the inspiration behind that? And especially with a multifaceted approach as well, because you mentioned finance which you wouldn’t assume would be associated with health.

Dr. Vimal George

(04:38):
Yeah, it’s really unusual, but finance is actually a very central tenant of the book. So, I’ll dive into that a little bit, but let me tell you about the inspiration behind writing it. As I mentioned, I was serving as the head of our population health in our clinic where we’re overseeing the patient population in the Austin, Texas area. And what I learned and saw from firsthand experience is things that many of us know is happening in our society. So, we’re seeing rates of diabetes increasing year after year. We’re seeing rates of obesity increasing year after year, and this is true worldwide, right?

(05:17):
And so, not just diabetes and obesity, but hypertension, Alzheimer’s, anxiety disorders, major depressive disorders, all these chronic diseases that are increasing over time. And to the point that it’s really compromising our health and our happiness. And what we know is that historically, we’ve made tremendous progress as a society, as a world, in terms of overcoming some really bad things that were happening to our ancestors that we don’t have to fortunately deal with. So, one is starvation, right?

(05:54):
I mean, food security is still an issue today but not in that way that it was for our ancestors who lived prior to the industrial revolution. And that’s thanks to some of the technological innovations that we’ve made. In the same way we’ve been able to overcome infectious diseases like tuberculosis and smallpox. But since graduating from those infectious diseases and graduating from the real risk of starvation, we actually graduated from that to developing chronic diseases that are also compromising our health and actually causing a great deal of expense for our healthcare system.

Stu

(06:39):
So the big question, I think then, at least, on the top of mind for me is why? So, all of the advancements in technology, agriculture, why is this happening? Surely we should be living better, longer and happier lives.

Dr. Vimal George

(06:57):
Yeah, yeah, exactly. So there’s something obviously very wrong happening because you’re right. All these advancements and yet, well, our health is actually in decline. In fact, I don’t know how the statistics are in Australia, but in the United States between patients who are obese and overweight, if you combine them, that’s about 71% of the population. And that is increasing worldwide, whether you’re in Australia, in Europe, in America, it’s happening worldwide. Right? And so, why is that happening?

(07:28):
And what we can obviously point to is that people are more sedentary. They’re not exercising as much as our ancestors did. That’s a very obvious point. They’re also eating a lot more processed foods in a way that wasn’t the case many decades ago, and certainly not a couple of centuries ago. And so, that’s kind of the obvious level that we all know about, but there’s something that’s underlying that’s causing that. And what I’d like to suggest, is that is actually due to what I call mindless consumerism. And that is the underpinning for much of what’s affecting our health.

Stu

(08:08):
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I’d love it if you could expand upon that as well. And also your views on how technology perhaps may be fueling mindless consumerism. Because, of course, now we have a smart phone or a screen attached to us at some point of every day feeding us ad after ad after ad.

Dr. Vimal George

(08:30):
Yeah.

Stu

(08:31):
Thoughts on that.

Dr. Vimal George

(08:33):
You know, you’re absolutely right. So, the things that we’re pursuing are really… Mindless consumerism is this sense of just spending money just for the pleasure of it, is really adversely affecting our health in four major ways that I talk about in the book. And I’ll talk to you a little bit about a couple of those ways, and then I’ll mention the other two ways, but I’m going to have your listeners read the book to get the details on those couple of other ways. But in the first place, if you think about it, 100 years ago compared to now we’re 100 times more productive as individuals, right? We get so much more done than our forefathers did. And yet, here we are working almost just as long as they did.

(09:27):
And we’re really kind of tied to a way of living where many of us working full-time jobs where we’re working at least 40 hours a week, maybe longer. Certainly here in America, we are [inaudible 00:09:39] taking a vacation even. We rush to work, rarely have the time to cook, certainly forget breakfast not even dinner. Breakfast is often on the go. And so, we’ve been compromising our health because, one, we’re not eating very healthy foods. According to the CDC, for example, 90% of us don’t get adequate fruits and vegetables per day. And similarly, only 23% of us get adequate exercise, right? So the first major way is it ties us down to a certain type of lifestyle, this consumer oriented living. It ties us to a certain type of lifestyle that’s not really conducive to being healthy.

(10:25):
So, the second way is that, in that same consumer oriented mindset, we tend to pursue convenience and rob ourselves of opportunities for exercise. So let me give you a little example of what I’m talking about is, for example, in the healthier societies, in the healthiest places around the world, there’s often not roads that you can drive on in certain areas. So what does that mean? Well, that means basically you have to rely on your feet to transport yourself from one place to another, or you have to rely on your bike. And we’ve kind of engineered this necessity for exercise out of our day to day living. And so, as a result, once again, we’re compromising our health. Right?

(11:18):
Third, you point out the issues that we have with our phones, all this stimulation that we have constantly and the artificial environments that we live in. Obviously it’s going to contribute also to poor sleep. So if you look at the foundations of healthy living, any person already knows is you got to have a healthy diet, exercise and good sleep, and that’s already out the window now. I mean, those are things that we’re already compromising. And so, that’s two of the ways that we are compromising our health in our pursuit of consumerism. There’s

(12:00):
The third way, some of our consumer-oriented purchases actually contribute to environmental toxins, endocrine disruptors, microplastics that can actually adversely affect our health. There’s a fourth way that I talked about in the book as well, where because we’re tied to our employers, we’re actually working for money, which is okay. But if you’re working for money and the product you make is a side effect, then what happens is that you’re trying to entice consumers to purchase from you, which means that you’re trying to put something so tempting out. If you think of fast food, it’s so tempting. It’s just right there. It’s convenient. Even as workers, it affects us because of our mindless consumption habits.

Stu

(12:57):
Yeah. It’s fascinating stuff. At 180 Nutrition, we’ve always focused on the whole food message. We look at the four pillars of health as nutrition, movement, mindset, and sleep. I think perhaps the three biggest culprits to sabotage our health these days are ultra-processed foods, refined carbohydrates, industrial seed oils. I think to be comfortable comes at the detriment of your health, like you said. It’s more comfortable to get in a car and drive to work, whereas, yes, we could walk or we could cycle. It’s more comfortable to sit in front of our televisions at night. It’s more comfortable to have a nice hot shower and a comfy bed. But at what expense? I guess, given the fact that we know that now that the internet and the technologies and mobile devices and screens are not going anywhere, how would we break out of this cycle of manipulation and almost dulled down by tech these days?

Dr. Vimal George

(14:07):
Here’s what I’m going to propose here, which may come as a shock to a lot of your listeners. I’m going to suggest that, actually, that’s the easy part. Identifying consumerism as the problem that’s actually the cause of a lot of our chronic diseases is the hard part. But once you recognize that, and you recognize it’s in your interest to overcome this, the rest of it’s pretty easy. I’ll tell you why. Because in pursuing mindful consumerism, which is that you’re mindful of your purchases, then you tend to automatically spend a whole lot less. As a result, if you take that money that you are going to save and invest that money, you actually do yourself a favor. You’re actually going to be better off from a financial standpoint.

(15:03):
Just by overcoming the mindless consumerism, suddenly you have so many resources at your hands that you didn’t have before, and now you are afforded a certain lifestyle that you couldn’t afford to live before. Now, again, you might recall that I mentioned we’re a hundred times more productive than our forefathers were. If you look at the work of a particularly notable economist… You may have heard of John Maynard Keynes, who’s probably the most famous economist of the 20th century. He actually predicted that, in our time, we would only need to work 10 to 15 hours a week. In a sense, he’s right. We need to work 10 to 15 hours a week to be able to get to meeting our needs. Yes. But if you’re looking to chase after more and more of the… We have this problem that we tend to chase what’s pleasurable and sacrifice what actually improves our happiness. But back to the point, it’s in your interest, and it’s easy to overcome consumerism because it actually leads to you being financially pretty well off.

Stu

(16:18):
Would you describe yourself as a minimalist?

Dr. Vimal George

(16:22):
I wouldn’t necessarily. I think there’s some virtues in practicing that. It’s, it’s an approach that I think has a lot of benefits. It’s an approach that I largely endorse. But really, what I want folks to understand is that… And I talk about this principle in the book, is at the best things in life are actually free of costs, once you meet your basic needs.

Stu

(16:54):
100%. Absolutely agree. !00%.

Dr. Vimal George

(16:57):
Once you meet your basic needs, meaning you have enough food, and you have a house, and you have your security, your basic needs are met. There’s a lot of research that I cite in the book that actually supports this notion that the best things in life are, thereafter, free. Those things are things like spending time with family and friends, doing some good for others, whether it’s charitable giving or volunteering, exercising, sleeping .all these things are actually largely free of cost. [crosstalk 00:17:29]-

Stu

(17:31):
Yeah. No, I completely agree.

Dr. Vimal George

(17:33):
That’s really what I try to promote as a driving force behind how we should look at spending.

Stu

(17:45):
If I’m paying more attention to what I purchase and very mindful about only purchasing the things that I really need, and then thinking about the savings that I make and the possibility of investing, so my question is… Well, I don’t know anything about investing. I can see that there are so many different areas to invest. Maybe I should use the conventional stock market, maybe crypto. Now I’m, now, now I’m glued to my phone every day because I’m looking at stocks and shares. How do we do this? How does the average Joe, like myself, who doesn’t really understand the premise of successful investing, how would we start to navigate that particular area?

Dr. Vimal George

(18:32):
Sure. Good question. If you read any books on finance, let’s say you read three or four different books on personal finance, here’s a little secret: they all say the same thing. They all say to live within your means. Then, you take the amount that you can save. And then, you put it into certain investments. I actually talk about it in the book and actually spell it out. So your listeners can benefit from the ideas that… Not me, because I’m not a finance expert, but really the finance gurus out there that have already put together. It’s some very basic principles that I do modify a little bit to be in line with this philosophy that the best things in life are free, for the most part, beyond a certain level. Based on that, I put all that together. There’s a chapter on that. I think that most folks would find that interesting.

Stu

(19:36):
Okay. No, that sounds great. I guess you used the phrase living beyond diet and exercise. How would you explain that then to somebody who was perhaps new to you and your work? I mean, you’re talking about time, freedom, the unattachment of all of the possessions that are perhaps holding us down and making us feel like, I guess, giving us false happiness.

Dr. Vimal George

(20:05):
Sure. You point to something important. This is this doesn’t excuse anyone from a healthy diet and exercise. I make that point clear [inaudible 00:20:14]. If anyone was looking to say, “Hey, I can eat whatever I want.” No, this is not the book for you. The idea is you’re trying to optimize the surrounding. You’re trying to optimize the environment to make it much more likely to healthy living as possible. As I mentioned, 99 to 100% of our ancestors before, in the hunter-gatherer societies, they exercised. They didn’t have another choice. We’ve engineered out the need to exercise.

(20:44):
Similarly, there was not the extent of processed foods that there is now. This progress has really been a detriment for us. Just because you’re financially independent doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re automatically, therefore, going to be healthier. But it sure does optimize the conditions for healthier living. Now, I’m not naive enough to think that just by being financially independent, you are going to be healthier. But I hope your listeners aren’t naive to think that by living paycheck to paycheck, working 40 hours a week, at least, probably 40/50 hours a week, and then sitting through traffic back and forth, largely sedentary work, isn’t contributing heavily to the development of chronic disease that we’re seeing in our society.

Stu

(21:34):
Yeah. No, absolutely. You spoke about optimizing our surroundings. I’ve taken the phrase from the book. You’re optimizing surroundings so that we’re more likely to make better choices for ourselves and our community. Just expand on that a little bit. How might we do that?

Dr. Vimal George

(21:56):
Yeah. I mean, really, the basics is really what I just mentioned, really, that if we can… Let me point to a book out there that’d be like… It’s a book named Slim by Design, by an author named Brian Wansink who is a psychologist. Basically, he makes the point that willpower is overrated. In the sense that if you have temptations surrounding you, every way you look, you can muster up the willpower to avoid that chocolate candy bar sitting next to you, maybe that one time, maybe a second time, maybe a third time. Eventually, you’re just going to pick it up and eat it. Yeah. The point is let’s optimize our surroundings. That way, you’re much more likely to make those healthier choices. The bigger point here that I’m making in the book is one of those things that we really have to do to be able to optimize our surroundings. Really, the fundamental thing we’ve got to do is to overcome this mindless spending that’s tying us to a certain lifestyle that’s adversely affecting our health.

Stu

(23:05):
Gotcha. Got it. Would you start there? Would you start on the consumerism? If wanting to take radical change on our health and our future and our wellbeing, would it be the capitalism that you’d start, or would it be the food, or should we move more? Should we work on our sleep? I guess sleep is a huge pillar. If we don’t sleep well, then we don’t make great choices anyway.

Dr. Vimal George

(23:29):
Yeah. I think you do have to simultaneously work on all these different things, so a healthy diet, exercise. You’re not going to try to just work on spending and neglect those factors. But again, if you get to this point where you’re mindful of your consumption habits, largely you’re going to be able to get to a point eventually where you’re financially independent. What I mean by that is you’re not dependent

(24:00):
…dependent on anyone for income. I don’t mean that you’re not dependent on your parents for income. Hopefully you’re well past that point, but I’m saying you’re not depending on yourself for an income. You’re not dependent on your employer for an income. So you have… Whether you’re working or not. And I hope people choose to continue to work or the reasons to go into in the book. But as a result you have in the first place, time for yourself, and two, you’re more likely to have structured your environment in a way that’s more conducive to healthy living.

Stu

(24:35):
Right. And in terms of timing, financial freedom doesn’t come overnight. And similarly with investments. Investments don’t pay off overnight and we’re talking about, I guess, they compound over time. And often times, that scale can be quite linear and 20 plus/ 30 years, how quickly do you think people could expect to feel an easing of the pressure of the burdens of everyday life if they took this approach?

Dr. Vimal George

(25:10):
You know, it’s interesting. People kind of underestimate how quickly you can achieve financial independence. It really depends on how, what level of comfort you have with the philosophy that I mentioned, which is that the best things in life are free. Once you have paid off, once you’ve met your basic needs. If you’re at a 75% rate of savings, in other words, you’re saving 75% of the income that you generate, you can get there in less than a decade. So, the math is interesting. You’d be interested to see what… It’s in the book, where I talk about it and kind of break it down. So, it’s a lot faster than people think. And the reason for that is that we’ve kind of been taught by our financial advisors, for example, to put away maybe 10%, 20%.

(26:03):
And what happens is then you get to a point of being able to be financially independent, 40 years down the road when you’re old, when you’re late in life and you probably have a lot of chronic disease probably from working those long sedentary hours, commuting those kinds of things that are toxic to our way of that we ought to be living. And so what I propose is really, you can get there way faster than that, right? Just by being mindful consumers.

(26:31):
Now, the other part of it, some people can’t get to a 75% rate of savings. That’s okay. Because, they have certain expenses that they or their income is just barely able to manage. But even those people will benefit, because it’s partly in the pursuit of… even if you’d never achieve financial independence, just the cutting down on the mindless spending automatically gives you opportunities that you wouldn’t have thought of, because now you’re not mistaking pleasure for happiness. And in many ways kind of buying things that are actually going to compromise your health, whether that’s fast food or the convenience of fast food, whether that’s more time taken away from pursuits that can actually engage you physically in search of convenience. And so, there’s a way for everyone really to benefit, even if you couldn’t. Even if you were, let’s say really barely able to make things meet because your income is low relative to your fixed expenses.

Stu

(27:46):
Yeah. No, that makes sense. And I think that the more effort, the more work you put into the pillars of health as well. I mean, the rewards that pays, the rewards of having a great night’s sleep, of moving your body, of having a nourishing meal. I think outweigh all of the, I guess the immediate pleasures that you may receive from a hyper palatable convenience snack that leaves you feeling slumped and lifeless an hour later.

Dr. Vimal George

(28:23):
Absolutely.

Stu

(28:24):
And I think the more we do that, the more we learn to want more of that.

Dr. Vimal George

(28:27):
Yeah. And honestly, you just sleep better at night. I mean, you have enough of a cushion that you built up that you can actually sleep better knowing that if something happens or should something happen, you actually have a means to be able to afford what you need. Right. And so, in that way definitely it improves stress. It definitely improves your ability to sleep better.

Stu

(28:50):
Totally. Absolutely. Stress is a huge one for for sleep or disrupting sleep, that a lot of people don’t really think about. And I especially think that if we plugged into our smartphones or our devices until the very moment of which we go to sleep, we’re being served ads, we’re being served all manner of trash media as well that we ruminate on and yeah, it disrupts sleep. So vicious cycle.

Dr. Vimal George

(29:18):
It is, it is.

Stu

(29:18):
There’s a phrase on your book that I picked up on it. It was capitalism, pyromania plus fuel. And I just wanted you to just rift on that a little bit, because it jumped to mind.

Dr. Vimal George

(29:30):
Okay. Yeah. So that, I think the chapter heading in the book, it says capitalism, colon pyromania plus fuel. And in parentheses warning, this could be deadly.

Stu

(29:41):
Yeah. That’s the one.

Dr. Vimal George

(29:44):
So let me say first off that I’m a fan of capitalism. There is no other economic system in the world that has brought so many millions, hundreds of millions out of extreme poverty than capitalism has. So, there is certain things that I think we need to, let me just recognize that. I don’t want anybody to think that I’m criticizing capitalism, but what do I mean by pyromania? Well, pyromania is just this tendency to want to set fires. You just have this impulsive desire to set fire. Well, what I mean by that is we humans, by nature, have this tendency to conflate happiness and pleasure.

Dr. Vimal George

(30:31):
When I talk about it in the book is that really our goal is happiness and wellbeing. And yet we tend to conflate pleasure for happiness and pleasure has a lot of benefits, which is really a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with pleasure, but in mistaking it for happiness gets us to… it causes all sorts of potential problems that start to affect us adversely. And so in that sense, in the sense that we tend to mistake pleasure for happiness, we are like pyromaniacs. We have this tendency to set a fire upon ourselves. But pyromaniacs are actually fine as long as you don’t give them fuel.

Stu

(31:18):
Right, okay.

Dr. Vimal George

(31:20):
You don’t give them fuel. They do just fine with them, they’re safe, they’re okay. Problem is when you have anything that is pleasurable right there at your fingertips, okay, that’s the fuel. Then you are, and especially if you kind of grew up in this way from a young age and that’s how our children are brought up, constantly bombarded with advertisements. They never develop that ability to really recognize that it’s not pleasure that we’re actually seeking, what we’re really after is happiness and wellbeing. And so, that’s kind of the premise of that chapter that I open with.

Stu

(32:09):
So on that note then, I think technology plays a huge part in what’s happening at the moment. And given the fact that behind the scenes, our digital lives, I think, are driven by an algorithm that curates news and prepares ads based upon all of the interactions that we make on a myriad of different platforms. How can we break this? And really my riding question is how can we use technology to better our lives? Because we know it’s not going away, but we really don’t want it to continue to be our Achilles heel.

Dr. Vimal George

(32:50):
Yeah. So, I would say first off that technology has brought us a lot of benefits already, right? So we need to recognize that. Again, thanks to technological innovations, we don’t have to worry about food security to the extent that our ancestors did. Thanks to technological innovations, we have vaccinations and antibiotics which are highly effective in helping us to overcome infectious diseases. If you look at the developing world right now, and the developed world; In the developing world, they’re fighting off infectious diseases and the developed world where you and I live, we’ve largely overcome infectious diseases. We’ve largely overcome starvation, but instead, we’ve kind of actually ended up developing certain chronic diseases that we never had to get to. So something really wrong happened, right? So you were asking me about technology and how we can use that to improve our lives.

(33:54):
Well, here’s the thing. We actually don’t need to wait around for any kind of technological innovation to improve our lives right now. We actually have everything that we need already. As you mentioned, those pillars of healthy living, healthy diet, exercise, good sleep, managing stress. Those things are already free to us as it is. So any kind of technological innovations that improve upon food, it only adversely affects us. So those things are actually less likely to contribute to healthy living. It’s actually making us unhealthier, in the same way those pursuits of convenience, technological innovations that have made life so much more convenient have robbed us of opportunities of exercise.

Stu

(34:37):
Yeah.

Dr. Vimal George

(34:38)
And so what I’m proposing in the book is there really is a way to reorganize kind of re… it’s a paradigm shift in the way we are living, but there really is a way for us, even as a whole to engineer a growth to reflect the things that we really value. So let me just kind of back up and say, this title, the subtitle of this book, it’s a doctor’s prescription for living beyond diet and exercise, which you didn’t see is it’s not a politician’s prescription for living beyond diet and exercise and not an economist’s prescription for living beyond diet and exercise.

(35:19)
What’s happened is that we’ve largely been pursuing GDP growth. And whether you’re talking with politicians on the right or on the left, the goal is increasing GDP. Now on the right, they might pursue that as the overarching goal and left, they’re trying to grow the GDP pie, but trying to do it more equally, but regardless the focus is on GDP growth. And, but that’s mistaken because we were never actually after increasing GDP, we were really interested in improving our wellbeing, our health. And so, by mistaking this pursuit of

Dr. Vimal George

(36:00)
More and more on in terms of GDP or in terms of your personal income. We’re really getting to this point of becoming less healthy as an individual and as a society.

Stu

(36:14)
Yeah, it’s a sacrifice for sure if one comes at the expense of another. So just interested to hear a little bit about yourself now, in terms of perhaps the things that you do now that you didn’t use to do say five years, 10 years ago. Things that you have learned that have been of great benefit from you. I mean, you’ve written a book. I would imagine that you are walking the walk, you put into practice all of the things that you preach. So tell us a little about your non-negotiables, things that you do right now in each and every day in order to win that day. And again, perhaps things that you didn’t use to do.

Dr. Vimal George

(37:03)
Sure, I like the way you put that. I’ll tell you, as soon as the alarm clock goes off though, I’m always renegotiating my negotiables with myself okay.

Stu

(37:15)
Yeah.

Dr. Vimal George

(37:15)
So I guess it points to the fact that relying on our own willpower, right, is problematic, right? We really need to optimize the environment, which I mentioned earlier. But really, if you think about it as… In this sort of world where we live in, where we are constantly bombarded with messages about what’s easy and delicious and right there, it’s easy to pursue that. Right?

Stu

(37:54)
Yeah.

Dr. Vimal George

(37:55)
And it’s easy to fall victim to that. But I guess what I’m saying here in this book is that if you think about how, just the fact that, for example, 60% of people say they don’t like their work, and yet they come to work every single day reliably 8:00-5:00 consistently without missing a beat. Right?

Dr. Vimal George

(38:22)
And what is it that’s drawing them there? Well, it really is this pursuit of money, right? This way in which capitalism is working that draws them to consistently do what they don’t necessarily want to do.

Dr. Vimal George

(38:41)
But what I’m saying in the book, and what I try to do myself is that really if that pursuit of money is so impactful, so powerful in drawing us. If you come to the recognition that it’s consumerism that’s really driving a lot of the chronic diseases, you might convince the very high-minded, very noble individuals to follow along with you in overcoming this consumerism pursuit, but you won’t persuade the masses to come along with you that way.

Stu

(39:18):
Yeah.

Dr. Vimal George

(39:19)
It’s just not going to happen. But if you provide them a path whereby they’re actually also financially better off, okay. Now, remember the people are working 8:00-5:00, long hours and meeting and doing all these things that they don’t want to do for money. If you provide them a path, this is sort of a self-enlightened path where they can get off this hamster wheel. They can pursue a way of living that then frees them of their need to have to live in that sort of a toxic environment where they’re constantly sedentary and compromising their health.

Dr. Vimal George

(40:03):
Well it’s something that doesn’t need an argument. It doesn’t need convincing. And you can recruit the masses of people to join you in this way is what I find.

Stu

(40:17):
Yeah.

Dr. Vimal George

(40:17):
You can actually persuade young high school and college graduates to suddenly be mindful of wanting to just I don’t need all that excessive things that I thought I needed just yesterday before I realized that, hey, you know what? I really have the possibility of being financially independent in a way that affords me a way of living and new opportunities for growing in a way that I’d never imagined before.

Stu

(40:44):
Excellent. Yeah, no, very well said. I’m just thinking as well about the possibility of enacting perhaps some visual cues to enable you to start the mindset of how consumerism might be disrupting your health. And I’m thinking about bringing it back to minimalism. It’s kind of crazy when you start to rid yourself of possessions that have no meaning, add no value to your life. It’s interesting how you feel. It’s almost you have a weight lifted off your shoulders when you’re not surrounded by all this rubbish that you thought you needed that really, again, doesn’t add any value to your life at all. And that, I think, at least for me, it started that mindset of, well, I don’t need all this stuff. I feel great about going outside and getting sunshine and getting in the ocean and walking.

(41:39):
Somebody said that nothing tastes as good as great health feels or something like that. I’ve really screwed that up.

Dr. Vimal George

(41:45):
Yeah.

Stu

(41:45):
But when you get up in the morning, you’ve had a great sleep and you’ve nourished yourself and you feel satiated and sustained and energized with the food that you eat, then I think you’re perhaps going to be happier. You make better choices. You’re more likely to want to exercise, because you don’t feel flat. So it really all feeds into the big machine.

(42:04):
But no, I love what you said and really intrigued about digging deeper into the book as well. So thank you so much for taking the time to write the book and to talk to me about it as well. So couple of wrap-up questions before I let you go, what’s next? What have you got? What have you got lined up?

Dr. Vimal George

(42:28):
Sure. Yeah. So this is really an ambitious sort of project because I do think anybody who reads the book is going to really come away feeling that life can be so much better for them. And I think they’re going to start to appreciate that, but I also want to take it to the next level, which is to really impact our society as a whole. And I think that there’s some ways that I talk about in the book, some of which involve some policies, but also certain ways of optimizing our environment that I think bring that benefit, not just to any single individual, but to our society as a whole. So that’s really what I’d like to work on and spend the [crosstalk 00:43:11] rest of of my life doing.

Stu

(43:12):
This week I’m excited to welcome [crosstalk 00:43:13] –

(43:12):
Fantastic, yeah, very very intrigued to follow your pursuits and hopefully you’ll get to spread the word and touch enough people to make worldwide change.

(43:27):
[crosstalk 00:43:27] So how can our audience, so everybody listening to this now, they love what you said. They want to find out more about you. They want to grab a copy of Health in Flames, where can we send them?

Dr. Vimal George

(43:37):
Sure. [crosstalk 00:43:38] Three call to actions, by mind. One, you could read the book. You can purchase that on most online retailers have it, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. You can get a link to on my website on www.healthinflames.com.

Stu

(43:56):
Yep.

Dr. Vimal George

(43:56):
First, I want everybody to encourage everybody to read the book. Secondly, if you can post a review, that would help increase the visibility. And third, I want you to come back to the website. There’s some questions at the end of each chapter, and I encourage the readers to come back to the website to look at the answers and engage in discussion about that. And if you really want to get to that higher level of involvement, which I’m really looking for a few individuals who really engage with that and really want to get involved, then I have a place on the website for you to get ahold of me and help to move this in a way that really benefits society as a whole.

Stu

(44:35):
Fantastic. No, that’s excellent. We’ll put all of the links and the information that we’ve spoken about today in the show notes, but Dr. George, thank you so much for your time. Much appreciated. Look forward to spreading the word.

Dr. Vimal George

(44:48):
Thank you so much, Stuart. I really appreciate it. It was great.

Stu

(44:51):
Fantastic. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Vimal George

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