Become More Resilient Series: Introduction

Hello everyone Floyd Meyer here I am a Physician Assistant with a Master’s in public health, a degree in molecular biology, and I am currently working in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

And wow have a lot of things changed since I last published any content. I initially took some time off to get married which was a fantastic experience and I am immensely grateful we did it when we did because immediately after getting back from our honeymoon the COVID-19 outbreak started to unfold.

Because there has been so much going on this past year, I thought it would be good to start by explaining where we were pre-COVID. Then take a look at where we are today, and in the coming weeks and months I am going to be explaining exactly what you can do, right now, to improve your resilience. Meaning your ability to remain well, recover, or even thrive in the face of this new adversity.

What was going on with healthcare in the United States pre-COVID? Well, the situation was already pretty bad.  According to Commonwealth Fund the United States was already spending a significantly higher percentage of GDP on healthcare compared to all other major nations on earth, and not by a small margin. We spend significantly more than anyone else.

Despite spending more money and having some of the most advanced technologies at our disposal we have the lowest life expectancy…

How can this be that we spend more money AND have worse outcomes than any of the other major nations?

One reason is because Americans are unwell. We have by far the highest levels of obesity and other chronic diseases like heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and arthritis.

Simply, our population is physiologically ill. Many people are unable to adequately respond to the stressors of life. They are unknowingly teetering on the edge of a cliff. All it takes is a stressor slightly above their baseline, whether that be someone shoveling snow leading to a heart attack, a traumatic psychological experience leading to major depression, or as has become exceptionally clear an infection from a new respiratory virus to send them to the Emergency Room fighting for their life.

But pre-COVID we didn’t care. We became used to millions of Americans dying each year from Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Cancer, Influenza and Pneumonia. Even if these people dying were our own family members it still did not create any significant action because it was “NORMAL”.

Then COVID-19 came and shook us out of our normal routines.

COVID was a new risk, a new problem that most people had never even heard of. And people are fearful of what this virus could do to them and their families.

We have become so obsessed with COVID that checking the daily death count is now as normal as checking the daily weather forecast. And it’s no wonder when we were being told that potentially millions of Americans would die from COVID-19 this year alone.

Because so many people have become obsessed with tracking the deaths from COVID I thought it would be helpful to put these death counts in perspective. As I said before every year millions of people die from heart disease, cancer, pneumonia, etc. I created this chart with data directly from the CDC website.

Leading Causes of Death: United States 2017 per CDC
Heart disease647,457
Accidents (unintentional injuries)169,936
Chronic lower respiratory diseases160,201
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases)146,383
Alzheimer’s disease121,404
Influenza and pneumonia55,672
Kidney Disease50,633
Intentional self-harm (suicide)47,173

Now when you look at just the numbers it might be difficult to see the bigger picture so this next graph will help to put this information in a little better perspective. It is the same data just in a pie chart so you can see what the major killers really are.

As you can see most major killers aside from Heart Disease and Cancer account from somewhere between 2%-7% respectively.

As of Early November 2020 COVID has been involved in just over 230,000 deaths making it the 3rd leading cause of death when compared to our most recent population data from 2017.

Now the year is not over and the number of deaths from COVID will continue to increase throughout 2020, but the point is that thankfully this pandemic has not become what many in health care, including myself, originally feared when we thought it was going to be killing millions of Americans.

It is still it is a major problem, but at this time it is not anywhere near as deadly as the black plague or the 1918 pandemic.

As this world wide pandemic has unfolded I have been watching intently as I am sure most of you have. I have been listening to experts in infectious disease, emergency medicine, as well as functional and integrative medicine.

One thing that has become strikingly clear as more data becomes available is that COVID-19 adversely affects those individuals who have pre-existing conditions.

The number of people that are dying from COVID infections that do not already have diagnosed diseases is shockingly low.

As of November 3rd data coming from New York City (which is the most detailed data I have access to) demonstrates that 19,354 people have died from COVID-19. Of these deaths, 121 of them occurred in individuals who were reported to have no underlying health conditions (regardless of age) including Obesity, Diabetes, Lung Disease, Cancer, Immunodeficiency, Heart Disease, Hypertension, Asthma, Kidney Disease, and GI/Liver Disease. 121 deaths out of over 19,000! That’s well under 1%.

What this means is, over 99% of those people dying from COVID-19 in New York City have already been diagnosed with one or more major chronic diseases.

NYC COVID-19 Deaths Among Confirmed Cases as of November 3rd, 2020
Age GroupUnderlying ConditionsNo Underlying ConditionsUnderlying Conditions UnknownTotal
– 0 to 17132015
– 18 to 4459523132750
– 45 to 643856863944336
– 65 to 74427365004779
– 75 and over8226412449474


So, we know that 99% of those people dying, at least in New York City, have an underlying chronic disease, but what if we looked at the people infected by COVID who are actually healthy? I’ll even take a step back.

What if we just looked at those individuals who follow the MOST BASIC public health recommendations? Those people who get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, exercise 3-4 days a week, eat 5+ servings of vegetables per day, don’t smoke, and drink moderately. How many of them are ending up in our ICUs on ventilators when COVID-19 infects them? How many of them even notice they are sick?

And yes, I understand it is possible for completely healthy people to succumb to disease, but the risk of that happening is extremely low, and this is where we need to focus our energy.

We are reaching a critical consciousness where we are realizing that overall health status is the most important factor when it comes to your risk of disease. COVID-19 has made this issue crystal clear both by its novelty and by making the risk of sickness and death more acute.

People have a difficult time with habit change when the negative outcome of inaction is a heart attack in their 50’s or 60’s, but now having obesity, heart disease, diabetes, smoking cigarettes, etc., has a very real and acute effect in making you more susceptible to death from COVID, TODAY.  

Looking ahead I want you to imagine, what if we had a population of Resilient, Healthy citizens? Would we even bat an eye to this new respiratory virus? Would we need to close down a single store? Maybe only the most vulnerable among us, those with significant comorbidities outside of their control, would need to isolate until the rest of the society built up our collective immunity.

I can’t say exactly what would happen, but I am sure that we would be in a much better position than we are today.

Know this, as the world gets more interconnected and the global population continues to increase these pandemics WILL increase both in severity and frequency. It is unacceptable for us to prepare for these eventual crises by simply building more ventilators and opening more ICU beds. We need to be more Resilient!

As Charles Eisenstein states in his powerful essay The Coronation, “Covid-19 is showing us that when humanity is united in common cause, phenomenally rapid change is possible. None of the world’s problems are technically difficult to solve; they originate in human disagreement. In coherency, humanity’s creative powers are boundless.”

Many of us have watched helplessly as our society has degenerated while the collective momentum pushed forward, but now we have an opportunity to step back, take a deep breath, and reevaluate.

We need a more resilient, a more healthy society. One that can remain well, recover, or even thrive in the face of adversity. We must raise the bar. Anything less is unacceptable.

That’s why I will be focusing all of my efforts moving forward to show people how to increase their resilience. How to become more Antifragile. How to weather the coming pandemics.

If this resonated with you please share with your friends and family and subscribe and follow for more of this content. The time for action is now. Again this is Floyd Meyer. Have a great day!


Eisenstein, C. (2020). The Coronation [Web log post]. Retrieved from    

LeBrasseur, N. K. (2017). Physical Resilience: Opportunities and Challenges in Translation. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, 72(7), 978–979. doi:10.1093/gerona/glx028 

Tikkanen, R., & Abrams, M. (2020, January). U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2019: Higher Spending, Worse Outcomes? Retrieved from              01/Tikkanen_US_hlt_care_global_perspective_2019_OECD_db_v2.pdf

Whitson, H. E., Cohen, H. J., Schmader, K. E., Morey, M. C., Kuchel, G., & Colon-Emeric, C. S. (2018). Physical Resilience: Not Simply the Opposite of Frailty. Journal of the American Geriatrics              Society. doi:10.1111/jgs.15233 

Whitson, H. E., Duan-Porter, W., Schmader, K. E., Morey, M. C., Cohen, H. J., & Colón-Emeric, C. S. (2015). Physical Resilience in Older Adults: Systematic Review and Development of an Emerging Construct. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 71(4),    489–495. doi:10.1093/gerona/glv202 


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