Modern life is fast paced.

It demands of us from many directions just as we demand of ourselves to ‘keep up’ with work, our social lives, children’s school schedules. The list goes on.

In the face of this, technology has trained us to expect instant results.

We communicate with friends and colleagues via email and cell phone, texting and sending – constantly checking for their reply. In some respects, this efficiency is wonderful, but in others, the expectation of instant results can prove deeply problematic. Largely because it breeds a dangerous side-effect: impatience.

Where it Doesn’t Belong

Often we fail to contain the expectation of the ‘instant result’ within areas of our lives where the expectation of it is reasonable. Often, we allow this instantaneous mind-set to creep into areas we should never have allowed – not intentionally of course, we are just trying to cope after all. Trying to make it through, trying to juggle all of the pieces. It’s important to remember, perhaps in a moment where all of the balls are in the air – to take a silent breath and really understand where impatience does not belong.

Crucially, one of those places is our health; specifically when thinking of and implementing lifestyle modification with regards to the prevention, cure or even reversal of chronic medical conditions and our management of stress.

80% of disease is preventable. Healthy Lifestyle is the medicine that can prevent as much as 80% of chronic disease.

When we consider lifestyle modification to optimise our health, we have to think long term. The instant gratification approach does not apply here. Frankly, it is dangerous when used in this area of our lives.

Lifestyle modification is exactly that – modifying the way we go about lives in order to increase our vitality and longevity. This includes eating healthily, exercising and managing stress.

The measures we put in place have to be sustainable.

Crash dieting, regularly or inappropriately taking over the counter and prescription medication to survive life and similar methods are not good for our health.  In the long run, this hurts us; and may even exacerbate the very problems we were trying to alleviate.

When we don’t put healthy measures in place as part of our lifestyle modification, we run the risk of developing preventable and possibly fatal conditions such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart disease and stroke.

The mentality here should be ‘easy does it’. When setbacks occur, don’t be discouraged; it’s life, that happens. Just make sure you get back on the horse. It’s safer and definitely wiser to take small steps towards changing your lifestyle for the betterment of your health, instead of making drastic changes that you will not be able to sustain.

Implement lifestyle modification plans in your life for improved health. Just remember to think long term.

Dr Mammekwa is a South African medical doctor specializing in chronic disease prevention and stress management through Lifestyle Medicine.