"But I've been doing this my whole life."

No smoker has ever contracted lung cancer after a few cigarettes, or probably even a few years of cigarettes. No Diabetes onset came after a few candy bars or milk shakes, just like very few fighters collapse after only one or two punches to the head. If there’s one thing history has taught us it’s that we can take a beating. If there’s a second thing it’s that we can take said beating up to a point. Everyone falls.

I hear it every week, if not every day in my office: “But I’ve been doing this for my whole life.”

Exactly. One week of exercise and green vegetables will do us very little good, but decades of it is pretty much guaranteed to save/change our life. Inversely, the same logic applies to detrimental habits.

As an acupuncturist I spend very little time actually putting needles into people. It reminds me of my 15 years as a comedian, where seemingly less than 1% of my “work time” was spent on stage telling jokes (which was still a lot of time); instead the majority was spent attempting to get booked on shows, writing and refining material, emailing the industry, editing and promoting my products, working a day job, and of course the n-word… networking. Ugh. What is it about n-words? No, negativity, never… I digress.

Now as a Chinese Medicine practitioner I spend most of my time on the clock constructing persuasive arguments, sometimes during a first meeting with patients, other times later on, obviously relying on my intuition to determine (which surely I occasionally get wrong). In any case, I sit and amiably argue why they should change a particular habit, and if I only successfully reach one patient a week I am happy.

Most of my patients are intelligent – one would sort of have to be to seek out holistic health care in a society that still relatively disregards it. However, it can be difficult to convince even the smartest of people that something that has apparently agreed with them for literally decades has finally turned on them and/or “tipped the scale” and is to blame for all, if not at least the worst of their problems. Especially when that something is not one of the few fetishized “evils” in modern society.

I warn patients to not become mindless “muggles” of the matrix, to not only question that which the masses are taught to. We hold cigarettes and drugs as pure evil, alcohol as potentially dangerous, and sugar? Well, a lot of us have learned a lot, but “dessert” remains a cultural norm of entitlement, even amongst the most educated folk, rationalizing “moderation,” or anything to satiate that sweet tooth.

The fact is that at least some part of ingested toxic substances remains in our bodies for some period of time regardless of excretion. Sugar addicts (and all addicts) love to cite the power of the liver in processing, metabolizing and expelling harmful toxins, though the liver is like any other organ, really any other thing. Over time it gets weaker, especially under duress. As it weakens detoxification becomes more challenging, which leaves more toxicity in our body, which weakens it further, and the domino effect towards death ensues. Sorry. This is life.

As for Chinese Medical standards, such as avoiding raw, uncooked foods (even salad!), ice cold drinks, and dairy, my pursuit of persuasion is even more difficult, for obvious reason. Most people have never heard this before. It’s hard to convince someone that 40 years of salad has finally caught up!

My opinion is that the only thing more valuable than an informed mind is an open mind, primarily because the former is sort of unable to exist without the latter. Secondly because a truly open mind can be open not only to new information, but also to questioning old information that it previously regarded as gospel. This takes great courage – to concede that we’ve been doing everything (or anything) wrong, and if we are not to blame for our condition, at least our ignorance is.

Everything tips the scale, from poor diet to lack of exercise, excessive exercise, excessive work, stress, sex, lack of sex, lack of water, water accumulation, and especially excessive medications. One of the greatest ironies I observe in pharmacological prescriptions is: If you don’t experience any of these side effects in the first week then you’re fine. Such logic is wholly counterintuitive to the premise of continuity. If we take something over time that blocks a particular bodily mechanism one must assume that eventually said blockage could cause problems. Unfortunately it’s nearly impossible to convince a patient that something their doctor gave them is causing discomfort, especially when they’ve been taking it for years and the aforementioned platitude is ingrained into their minds. This is life.

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