An extract from the book Ride to Life by Dr Gary Leong

An extract from the book by Dr Gary Leong, Ride to Life: a no-nonsense program for braking your family’s cycle of obesity and connecting to a healthier, happier life

Stage 8 – Connection, self-care and support 

Your body is the child of the soul. You must nourish and train your child.

Sri B.K.S. Iyengar, Yogi and Founder of Iyengar School of Yoga

In this stage, we will:

  • Outline the importance and benefits of having a strong, reliable support structure in place
  • Learn about the ‘disconnection syndrome’
  • Identify the ideal people to provide support and encouragement without judgement
  • Learn the importance of nurturing these support relationships in a healthy way, such that it benefits both you and the support person.

Having a healthy life means getting connected

A common experience I witness with most patients in my clinic is the absence of healthy human connections in their lives. Applying to both parents, grandparents, and a broader social circle, it’s just another indicator of disconnection. Frankly, it saddens me people feel more isolated from each other than they’ve ever been. I see this phenomenon so often, sometimes described by the term ‘the disconnection syndrome’. In fact, when I first thought about writing this book several years ago, I considered using this as the title. It has since been taken up by several authors in the social-research field including Johann Hair in his insightful book, Lost Connections – Uncovering the real cause of depression and the unexpected solutions and of course Richard Louv in his book The Nature Principle – Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age.

The disconnection syndrome 

The disconnection syndrome is a contemporary epidemic that is noticeably prevalent in Western society but spreading across the globe. Despite increased digital connectivity enjoyed via technology, conversely and increasingly, we are more disconnected from the very things that contribute to our overall health and wellbeing in physical, mental and spiritual terms. 

Based on the premise that the more connected you are with yourself (as a person), within the family (whatever that represents for you), community, nature (‘the nature principle’), your food and food sources, and your personal vision/dreams for the future (purpose), the more likely you are to make wise choices for your health and the health of your children.

Equally, the more disconnected you are with these spheres of everyone’s life, the greater the likelihood you will find yourself on the chronic-disease trajectory, suffering from obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. This disconnection is also inextricably linked to mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.

Families who are typically suffering from the disconnection syndrome are:

  • Chronically stressed
  • Time-poor and without a regular, manageable routine in any area of their life
  • Feel a lack of control in their lives
  • Can’t see a vision for a different improved healthier life.

Families who are connected, stay healthy and thriving display different characteristics. Family members, including extended family:

  • Share similar values, give the same healthy messages, and are consistent with children in terms of boundaries and behavioural expectations
  • Share responsibilities in the day-to-day activities of the family, considering each person’s contributions to the health and wellbeing of the family
  • Parents prioritise their self-care, with the realisation that as leaders in the family, they must care for themselves so they provide the same level of care to children from a full, rather than depleted, cup
  • Can manage stress without it negatively impacting the family’s life
  • Enjoy established and manageable routines that provide a healthy sense of control over their lives
  • Have a vision for their future and see it unfolding.

For further information about Dr Gary Leong’s Ride to Life book go to

Gary Leong

Prof Gary Leong is a paediatric endocrinologist based in NSW and is passionate about educating the community about prevention of childhood obesity and has written a book called, ‘Ride to Life’.

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