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Fit For Life: The Rule of Expectation

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Matt Espeut

When I went to write this week’s column, I thought about how we set standards for ourselves.  Do we set the bar only so high – or do we set it really high?  I’m not just talking about exercise and fitness, but in life. If we rise to the level of expectation, then where do we set those expectations? There is so much written on this topic, just Google around and you’ll find it – as it relates to individuals, parenting, business, and even government.

I was watching an aerial video someone posted on Facebook this week. It is a two-minute video showing the state of RI from a helicopter. It shows how beautiful Newport looks in the summer, with the beautiful exquisite homes and coastline, sailboats in the bay, and lush green foliage.  Most of the comments on the video were stating how we forget how nice this state really is. One person called it a gem. My response, to myself, was: are you kidding me? The video showed “everything good about this state”. And it did it in two minutes, flat. Sure, Newport in the summer. Who can argue with that? But, also, how limiting is that? That’s it?  Eight to ten weeks of nice weather in one of the most expensive, exclusive, towns that RI has to offer? It didn’t show urban parts of Providence, areas around Charles Street or Mineral Spring Avenue. Or many city streets in communities like North Providence or Pawtucket, lined with strip malls and abandoned stores, potholes and traffic.  Dismal in the middle of January; probably not much better shown in an aerial shot in the middle of summer. 

Then one day during my commute from North Main Street to the Providence Post Office, I observed the tenement homes, old automobiles, and the people walking into gas station convenience stores where food is now being advertised for sale, and realized that under many circumstances in life, the percentage of good things to bad things is severely unbalanced.  True, some of this is due to our downward economic trends, but even in the best of times, most people in this country are not rich and successful, do not own expensive automobiles, live in spacious homes, and take lush vacations. As a matter of fact, less than 20% do. 

Most people are not in shape, or healthy either. Obesity is at about 33% and rising, and cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, are rising to alarming numbers, and the last figure I heard had only 13% of the population actually exercising. This holds true in other facets of life also. Look at sports teams: Even the pros. What percentage of a pro football team (53 players) are actual superstars that will make it to the Hall of Fame? Maybe 3% of them; and that’s generous. And, if we look at how many young great athletes there are, how many actually make it pro? Or even compete at a college level? How many people are trying to be actors, and how many are really successful? 

Raising the bar…

So my question to you is who do you compare yourself to? Where are your standards? What is your measure of success?  Your expectation for yourself? Do you compare your situation to people that have it worse than you? Do you say to yourself, ”yeah, I am out of shape, but my friend is fatter than me, so its ok”?  Do you look at your financial situation, and say, “at least I am not like him, he is bankrupt, and has lost everything, so I am in better position than he is?”  Because if that’s what you are doing, it is time to set the bar a bit higher. I am not saying to try to be something you are not, or change who you are, I am just saying that to improve ones situation, you need to try to emulate success. You don’t need to turn life into a competition, just strive to be better than you are right now. I never compare my situation with people that have it worse than me, but I do compare myself to the ones that are doing better in things that are important to me, and there are a lot of both out there. I look at successful people and think, success came from somewhere, like drive, desire, and dedication, I have all three, and someday that will be me, too. I also know that in most situations when I am around lots of people that I am in better shape than 90% of the people in the room. But, I always do look at or try to find someone better and think, I can get there if I try. I look at a guy like Tom Brady, and think wow, he has it all: super model wife, hall of fame career, and is living the dream. I don’t get discouraged, because I know he is in the minority, and a rare breed. I do sometimes think, though, “I could kick his a__ in a mountain bike race”, or, “he doesn’t have the talent to tile a bathroom, and I do” (I know, he doesn’t need to, either), but I don’t get down on myself, or dislike him for it, I just try harder to be a better me. 

I didn’t write this with negative intentions, just trying to open peoples’ eyes, and give motivation to aim higher, and strive to be above the average.  Remember the Rule of Expectation. It’s true. And working towards your goals is a better place to be and I try everyday to get there. This works for business, politics, in government, and in our families, too.

Matt Espeut, GoLocal's Health & Lifestyle Contributor has been a personal trainer and health & fitnesss consultant for over 25 years. He is the owner of Fitness Profiles, a one on one, and small group personal training company, as well as Providence Fit Body Boot Camp, located at 1284 North Main St., on the Providence/Pawtucket line. You can reach Matt at (401) 453-3200; on Facebook at "Matt Espeut", and on Twitter at @MattEspeut. "We’re all in this life together – let’s make it a healthy one!"


Related Slideshow: New England’s Healthiest States 2013

The United Health Foundation recently released its 2013 annual reoprt: America's Health Rankings, which provides a comparative state by state analysis of several health measures to provide a comprehensive perspective of our nation's health issues. See how the New England states rank in the slides below.



All Outcomes Rank: Outcomes represent what has already occurred, either through death, disease or missed days due to illness. In America's Health Rankings, outcomes include prevalence of diabetes, number of poor mental or physical health days in last 30 days, health disparity, infant mortality rate, cardiovascular death rate, cancer death rate and premature death. Outcomes account for 25% of the final ranking.

Determinants Rank: Determinants represent those actions that can affect the future health of the population. For clarity, determinants are divided into four groups: Behaviors, Community and Environment, Public and Health Policies, and Clinical Care. These four groups of measures influence the health outcomes of the population in a state, and improving these inputs will improve outcomes over time. Most measures are actually a combination of activities in all four groups. 

Diabetes Rank: Based on percent of adults who responded yes to the question "Have you ever been told by a doctor that you have diabetes?" Does not include pre-diabetes or diabetes during pregnancy.

Smoking Rank: Based on percentage of adults who are current smokers (self-report smoking at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and currently smoke).

Obesity Rank: Based on percentage of adults who are obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher.

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/

Prev Next

6. Rhode Island

Overall Rank: 19

Outcomes Rank: 30

Determinants Rank: 13

Diabetes Rank: 26

Smoking Rank: 14

Obesity Rank: 13



1. Low prevalence of obesity

2. High immunization coverage among adolescents

3. Ready availability of primary care physicians  


1.High rate of drug deaths

2. High rate of preventable hospitalizations

3. Large disparity in heath status by educational attainment

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/RI

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5. Maine

Overall Rank: 16

Outcomes Rank: 25

Determinants Rank: 12

Diabetes Rank: 23

Smoking Rank: 29

Obesity Rank: 28



1. Low violent crime rate

2. Low percentage of uninsured population

3. Low prevalence of low birthweight  


1. High prevalence of binge drinking

2.High rate of cancer deaths

3. Limited availability of dentists

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/ME

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4. Connecticut

Overall Rank: 7

Outcomes Rank: 15

Determinants Rank: 4

Diabetes Rank: 16

Smoking Rank: 4

Obesity Rank: 12



1. Low prevalence of smoking

2. Low incidence of infectious diseases

3. High immunization coverage among children & adolescents  


1. Moderate prevalence of binge drinking

2. Low high school graduation rate

3. Large disparity in health status by educational attainment

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/CT

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3. New Hampshire

Overall Rank: 5

Outcomes Rank: 7

Determinants Rank: 5

Diabetes Rank: 16

Smoking Rank: 11

Obesity Rank: 22



1. Low percentage of children in poverty

2. High immunization coverage among children

3. Low infant mortality rate  


1. High prevalence of binge drinking

2.High incidence of pertussis infections

3. Low per capita public health funding

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/NH

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2. Massachusetts

Overall Rank: 4

Outcomes Rank: 14

Determinants Rank: 3

Diabetes Rank: 10

Smoking Rank: 7

Obesity Rank: 2



1. Low prevalence of obesity

2. Low percentage of uninsured population

3. Ready availability of primary care physicians & dentists  


1. High prevalence of binge drinking

2. High rate of preventable hospitalizations

3. Large disparity in health status by educational attainment

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/MA

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1. Vermont

Overall Rank: 2

Outcomes Rank: 12

Determinants Rank: 1

Diabetes Rank: 4

Smoking Rank: 9

Obesity Rank: 5



1. High rate of high school graduation

2. Low violent crime rate

3. Low percentage of uninsured population  


1. High prevalence of binge drinking

2. Low immunization coverage among children

3. High incidence of pertussis infections

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/VT


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