I’ve recently gone back to the gym. Since the end of June to the time I am writing this, between working out at least five days a week and being more mindful of what I eat, I have lost 11 pounds and will probably close out the week with another pound in loss.
I’m not writing this for the congratulations (although those are always appreciated) but to talk about how setting up a good routine with good habits yields good results. A few years ago, I did WeightWatchers and joined a gym, and I got great results. Unfortunately, I let other factors undermine that momentum. I let my gym membership lapse. I ate less healthily. The weight started to creep back. I tried using the free fitness room at work, but the lack of equipment and the difficulty of carving out time from the office in the middle of the work day truly made it impossible. I knew what truly worked for me – I needed to get to a well-equipped gym by 7:30 AM at the latest, five days a week, do a mixed routine of cardio and weights, and watch what I ate – and I wasn’t doing it. Instead, I was letting the power of bad habits reassert themselves. I knew what I was doing was bad. I just couldn’t seem to shift gears, though. Until I woke up one morning and thought, “I am miserable. I need to change.” And I went back to my original gym and renewed my membership.
Changing gears now, the GlaxoSmithKline Chinese bribery scandal continues to play out. At the time of this writing, according to the New York Times, other pharma companies used the same travel agency as GlaxoSmithKline did, but are not implicated in using that agency as a conduit for distributing bribes. The amount in bribes allegedly distributed in China by the agency on behalf of GlaxoSmithKline is $489 million.
A headline on Forbes’ Website caught my eye: “Is Big Pharma Addicted to Fraud?” Contributor Erica Kelton points out that GlaxoSmithKline has had to pay out a lot in fines and settlements over the past few years – $3 billion last year, and $750 million in 2009 – and just about every major pharma company has a corporate integrity agreement with the U.S. Justice Department. They pay the settlements, and continue business as usual, it seems. And she also says, “But the combination of pharma’s noncompliant corporate culture and the prevalence of corrupt business practices in China and other emerging economies could have a lethal impact on many more consumers as pharma shifts more research and development functions, manufacturing operations, and marketing efforts to those growing markets.”
She goes on to say, “Though Big Pharma’s practices in China are grabbing headlines, not much about them is truly new. Those tactics – the use of payments disguised as speaking and consulting fees, luxury travel, sex, and numerous other inducements to expand sales of prescription drugs – are marketing techniques homegrown in the U.S. They simply have been exported to emerging markets.”
If you look at “set-in-their-ways corporate culture” as “set-in-their-bad-diet-and-exercise habits,” you can begin to see the enormity of the problem here. Think about it: if one person (me) can’t stick to a relatively simple diet and exercise program, how can you expect a company of tens of thousands of indivduals with all-too-human natures to change its ways? You could argue, “Well, they’re sticking to those ways because they want to make money. You are sitting on the couch and eating Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk because you are lazy and a glutton.”
Well, yes and no. Companies are sticking to bad corporate habits because they know they can make money this way – but also because of fear of the unknown and maybe some defeatism too. (“What if we try and it doesn’t work anyway?”) I was also sticking to my ways for fear. (“What if I try this and it doesn’t work anyway?”) In the case of GlaxoSmithKline or any other pharma company, making money is their goal. For me, the goal was sweet, sweet ice cream melting in my mouth. Or another bowl of pasta. You get the picture. You do the things you know “work” to fulfill your needs.
However, just because they work and are effective doesn’t mean those habits are good ones. The pharma companies are making money with their old habits, but are undermining their health as surely as I was with my refusal to make any changes to my lifestyle or my diet. So unto the pharma industry I say: Get your butt to the gym. It will be initially painful, but the results will be worth it.
Posted: August 2013