You enroll in the wellness program at your workplace. After all, your employer is going to pay you $500 every year to participate.
You are therefore given a Fitbit that counts number of steps walked and calories burned. If you smoke cigarettes, there’s an option to enroll in a smoking cessation program. And you are scheduled to have your cholesterol and blood sugar tested, along with blood pressure and waist circumference measured. There’s even a diet discussion offered by a dietitian to talk about cutting fat and calories, moving more and eating less, and why more whole grains are good for you.
As a result, you walk the 10,000 steps per day they advise. You don’t smoke so don’t need the cessation program. And your LDL cholesterol is high, according to your doctor, who then prescribes Lipitor and a low-fat diet. You cut the fat and saturated fat in your diet, as advised by the doctor and dietitian, and eat more whole grain sandwiches, cut back on the occasional donuts that appear in the break room at work, and take the thiazide diuretic prescribed by your doctor for high blood pressure. And there’s a nice check for $500 included with your paycheck for going along with the program.
One year later, you feel no different and have gained 7 pounds. Your waist circumference has increased by 1/2-inch, blood pressure is still borderline high, though your LDL cholesterol has dropped on Lipitor. But you still have acid reflux, leg edema, intermittent diarrhea without warning, pain in your knees, visible edema in your ankles after a day on your feet, and don’t have the energy you feel you should have at age 49.
Why would this be? You are doing everything they advise, yet you look nor feel any healthier except for the cholesterol values.
The story is fictional, of course, but I have encountered thousands of people with such stories. Let’s face it: Workplace wellness may make you a little bit richer, but does not yield health, cause loss of excess weight, or reverse common chronic health conditions. Why would it? The diuretic counters healthy hydration by making you dehydrated, losing potassium and magnesium in your urine, while increasing risk of sudden cardiac death from nutrient deficiencies. How would Lipitor yield anything close to genuine health beyond modestly improving a crude index like LDL cholesterol that is a nearly useless predictor of cardiovascular risk with a drug that hardly impacts risk for heart attack at all? (No, Lipitor does not reduce heart attack risk by 36%—that is the value that comes from clever marketing and misleading statistical manipulation.)
Genuine, spectacular health, slenderness, youthfulness, and high level of life functioning are indeed achievable. And it is achievable easily, quickly, and at almost no cost. It may not pay you $500, but it can get you back into a size 4 dress or 32-inch waist jeans, get you off prescription medications, get rid of acid reflux, leg edema, bowel urgency, and pain. But it means rejecting the advice of the doctor, ignoring the absurd advice of the dietitian, and pretty much doing the opposite of what they tell you. You can indeed continue to count your steps with the Fitbit and have them monitor blood pressure, but restoration of real health means you must take additional steps to correct the factors that cause such health distortions in the first place.
This is precisely what we do in the Undoctored lifestyle, including the Undoctored Health Workplace Program that we are introducing into the workplace. The Undoctored Health Workplace Program IS NOT WELLNESS because wellness does not work—wellness does not restore health, wellness does not save money. Sure, go through the motions to collect your $500 bonus, but don’t be fooled into thinking that such meager efforts yield health. For that you need to be UNDOCTORED.