COVID-19 vs. the Big 4 (what will actually kill you) Part 1

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COVID-19 vs. the Big 4 (what will actually kill you) Part 1

By Guest Writer:

Jonathan Royston


We opened our gym, Dissent Athletics, on February 7th of 2020. About six weeks later, our gym, Kennedale, and the entire Nation shut down due to the COVID-19 virus. We spent 8 weeks at home doing everything we could to provide our clients with at-home workouts, workout equipment, and any additional support we could provide. It was tough, it was scary, but the vast majority of our members emerged from the initial shutdown healthier than before. While I get this is a touchy subject to many (I experienced two losses in my family due to COVID and it shut our business down temporarily) it is hard to argue that the extra time at home wasn’t beneficial for most. After the initial scare most of the clients I talked to were actually less stressed, sleeping more, and overall fitter than before. As we returned to the gym and mask mandates and other limitations began to fade away, I was hopeful that I could begin to talk about why I got into this industry, why health and fitness are important to prevent all-cause mortality, but sadly it wasn’t time yet.


Before I continue I want to make it explicitly clear that whether you support wearing masks or not, are opposed to the vaccine, or got in line to get one, I don’t care. The point of this isn’t about the decisions being made regarding the virus, it’s about the conversations that stopped happening due to it. In my opinion, the discussions around COVID, masks, and then vaccines have led to more issues than the virus itself (again, bear with me as I realize the effects of this pandemic are still all around us). It was impossible to escape the discussion, or arguments, let alone find a reliable source of information as to just how bad this whole thing was. I watched others around me have escalating stress levels and felt it myself as well. I watched as reports came in of the overwhelming amount of unhealthy behaviors that began to emerge. Staying in your home, becoming more sedentary, gaining weight, not going to the gym or the park, avoiding social situations – the items and behaviors that make us human while not stripped away were made to seem like less than healthy behaviors.


I do believe that we are now past the point of COVID, masks, or the vaccine being top-of-mind discussion points. Nothing could make me happier because it opens the door to talk about how we can protect our health – as what will kill the majority of us isn’t COVID. The BIG 4 kill the majority of American Adults and to protect yourself from them you need to socialize, soak up some sun, sleep like a baby, watch what you eat, and work on your fitness.


So what are the big 4? Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimers/dementia kill the majority of Americans. Like, the overwhelming majority of people. I’m not a big fan of stats but I think the following makes a pretty good point: 60% of ALL deaths worldwide are contributed to the above. 60% of Americans have a chronic disease like those listed above – but 40% have multiple afflictions. Meaning 6 out of every 10 people you see are currently dealing with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or Alzheimers/dementia. 4 out of every 10 have more than one of these issues. This also says to me that once you become inflicted with one chronic disease it starts a terrible downward spiral into multiple inflictions.


It is impossible for you to not know someone affected by this – and actually, there’s a better than 50% chance if you’re reading this you have one of these diseases. More on this later but the good news is you CAN come back from this and it’s not impossible – I read about it every day and have seen it on more than one occasion. The leading causes of these diseases are poor diet, lack of physical activity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption. Everyone knows you shouldn’t smoke or drink to excess and I’m not here to double down on that. I am here to address diet and physical activity – its my passion, my job, and I believe my civic duty to try and be a beacon of hope and information to hopefully reverse this issue.


Before getting into the health and fitness tips regarding what to eat, how much and how to move your body I do want to address one more issue. The above items are commonly linked to or talked about being genetic and passed down from generation to generation. While there is some truth to this I think it’s important to know that genes predispose but they do not predetermine. Instead of blaming your genetics, let’s look in our pantries, our screen time, and how much of every day we spend sitting down whether at work, commuting, or relaxing at home.


So, what should you do to prevent or reverse the effects of the above? Glad you asked because it’s really pretty simple. Watch your diet, move your body, and dedicate time and effort to your sleep. These are the Three Pillars of Health and we will explore them in Part 2.


Here’s a teaser: Minimize processed foods, move your body 3-5 hours a week, give yourself a chance for 7 hours of sleep, spend 10 minutes in the sun, and make quality time for friends and family. Want to chat with me? Reach out here.






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