Friday, September 28, 2012

Nourish My Body

This is the fifth in a 10-part series of posts on some simple actions that always lead to happiness!  Read the original post that frames this discussion HERE.
 Everyone has heard the expression “You are what you eat.”  This is a statement that people should take literally.  By the nutritionally void food most people eat and the pandemic obesity in this country it is apparent most people either do not understand this or they no longer care.  Both are sad stories.  You only get one vessel to carry through this amazing adventure called life.
Stand in front of the mirror naked.  There you will see the harsh truth about the kind of care  that you have given you body over your time on the planet.  I know the media blitzes us with unrealistic body-type images all the time.  I am not saying that you need to look like a waif runway model or a chiseled athlete.
I spend a lot of time in airports.  I see more people who are obese or morbidly obese than those who have a relative level of fitness.  Some of these people can barely walk anymore.  Most have given up hope.  I am here to tell you that it is NEVER too late.  I am generally around a lot of very fit, hardcore athletes, but THE most inspirational people are the ones who were sick and tired of being sick and tired and decide to take charge of their body and their health again.
Percentage of the population with a BMI above 25
Measuring Body Mass Index (BMI) is a general approach that compares the ratio of height-to-weight.  It is not the perfect means of determining if someone is at risk for a myriad of health problems associated with being overweight.  A BMI of 25-30 is considered overweight, while the range of 30-35 is considered obese, and 35+ classified as morbidly obese.  A BMI over 32 can DOUBLE your mortality rates as you age and the accumulated stress on your body’s systems is compounded.
As more data gets collected the trend becomes even more disturbing!
I also spent significant time with elementary-aged kids in schools across 9 different states in our country this past summer.  The rate of childhood obesity in this country is scary!  In general these kids are eating thousands of empty calories every day and getting little if any significant physical exercise.  The psychological baggage some of these kids are already carrying can be debilitating and cause them to have a very poor self-image that permeates every aspect of their life and what they perceive as their own potential for their life as an adult.
Kids should be active outside playing and not stuck in front of the TV
What can we do about this?  I believe each person has to take responsibility for the food that they choose to put in their body.  I know that children cannot control this.  They are counting on their parents to make the right choices and show them the way to a lifetime of healthy eating habits.  We know that big corporation food manufacturers do not care.  They only care about the bottom line.  Do not rely on the government to tell you how to eat either.  Ex:  The government recommends you drink four 8-oz glasses of milk a day.  The dairy industry is one of the most heavily subsidized segments in our food supply.  Humans should not be drinking mass quantities of cow’s milk daily!  Especially the kind with all the hormones in it and affected by the genetically-modified feed the cows are given to boost milk production.  Cow’s milk is design to grow baby cows not baby humans or adult humans!  No wonder our playgrounds and airports are starting to look like feedlots!
This is not healthy for anyone including the cows!
I digress.  I am very passionate about this subject.  The solution is very simple:
DO NOT eat processed foods.  This means everything in the middle of the store that comes in a box or is pre-prepared.
DO eat lots of fresh, organic, local produce.  Know your food grower.  Seek out and support your local organic farm or grow your own!
DO NOT eat any food product that comes from CHINA.  Especially fish, any meats, or frozen fruits and vegetables.  Read the label to know the country of origin.  There are virtually no standards for cleanliness and sanitation in China and some other countries.
DO buy all your food from sources that are 100-150 miles from where you live.  It might take a little effort in the beginning and the geography of where you live could offer some challenges, but you should know the methods of production for everything you eat.  Otherwise, you are rolling the dice.
In general your diet should consist primarily of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Limit red meat consumption and work in a few healthy, clean servings of wild-caught fish instead.  Look for healthy nuts and seeds for snacks.  Drink lots of water.  In all things moderation.  Do not skip meals and gorge at the end of the day.  Instead, graze throughout the day with smaller more frequent meals and healthy snacks.
So many amazing tastes and textures out there to enjoy!
And lastly…..Move your body!  Let your muscles and joints and bones know every day that they are needed and will be used.  Motion is lotion.  The more you move and keep moving the better everything feels.   Regular exercise will also help you stay on track with better eating habits, better sleep patterns, etc.
The longest journey starts with a single step.  Commit to one change today, this week.  Next week take another step.  Build new habits and replace old unhealthy ones.  The length of your life and the quality of your life are directly dependent how you choose to fuel and use your body.  Choose wisely. It is never too late!