Somewhere along the way the people of the past few generations have decided that it is ok to sacrifice health, fitness, happiness, and really overall wellness. We have swapped these things for money, expensive toys and gadgets, stress, climbing the corporate ladder, crammed schedules, less sleep, bigger houses, faster cars, endless hours in front of the TV, and fast food. We are also become a society of loners. Our communication continues it’s progression towards completely non-intimate. We’ve gone from spending time with one another, to talking to each other on the phone, to using instant messenger, then to text messaging, and now we don’t even customize our communication anymore (i.e. Twitter post or Facebook status, where we just make very short broad statements for all to see). This is not a slight against technology. Technology has it’s place and many of these tools are wonderful to maintain relationships when separated by distance. It does seem however, that we are attempting to customize technology in a fashion so we no longer have to leave our homes, move around, or interact with anyone. I suggest we take a step back and re-evaluate. What factors are essential to our overall well being?
Food & Nutrition
Food is the cornerstone of society, our days are often based around meal times. We get a great deal of enjoyment out of eating. Eating can be an emotional release or an emotional hide out. A great deal of our social interaction is based around meals. Food is also the building block of our lives…through food our bodies & mind get the nourishment needed to function, grow, and even exceed others. I think most people would agree on the importance of eating, so the question is, why do we eat foods we know our bodies do not want? Why do we eat foods of which we are unsure of the origin? Why do we eat foods that, well…are barely food at all? There is a common myth out there that eating healthy foods and eating delicious foods are mutually exclusive. This is absolutely false. My goal is to make everyone understand the importance of eating the right foods, and for everyone to get the maximum possible enjoyment out of eating healthy, delicious, REAL, food.
Movement, Exercise, Play
As technology advances we become more and more sedentary in our lives. We now live in a culture that sees walking as exercise. This is a pretty disturbing thing…walking is part of being a person….this probably shouldn’t be our only form of exercise. We spend the majority of our time sitting in front of computers or on the couch watching TV, without realizing the detrimental effect sitting has on our body. People are not designed to sit, particularly for long periods of time. Exercise & movement have benefits far outreaching weight loss. When we exercise and sweat we flush out toxins, we strengthen our bodies systems (cardiovascular, skeletal, muscular, etc…), and we stimulate chemicals in our bodies that make us feel better!
Rest, Relaxation, Fun
This is overarching. In the three items above, these four items SHOULD all be encountered. Some of the combinations sound a bit odd, but is it not relaxing and restful to sit around the dinner table after a delicious meal? Is a slow walk or a relaxing swim not restful and relaxing? Exercise should not be grinding away on a treadmill or at some massive $5,000 weight machine, it should be fun and playful!
Community, “Tribes”, Interaction
Human interaction has been a part of life for millions of years. People are stronger in numbers and we thrive in a community setting. Even in the animal kingdom there are very few animals that go it alone…the majority exist in packs, prides, flocks, etc. Being around others drives REAL emotions & brings happiness (and sometimes negative emotions too…but we need those as well). So many times we see collective groups far exceed their aggregate individual talents, we have seen sports teams with inferior abilities topple the best of the best through teamwork and a chemistry they have forged. It is upsetting to me that we seem to be losing the connection to community. People now would rather drive all the way to the store than ask a neighbor for an egg or a can opener, we skip a personal visit in favor of discussion via the internet, we settle for TV rather than meeting a group of friends for a drink or for conversation. The encouragement and confidence gained from a strong community is very valuable, and we need to resist draw of individualism.
So where do we start?
Food & Nutrition: EAT REAL FOOD! Go back to the way men ate for millions of years. Meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, eggs, and fruits should be the mainstays. Enjoy the process of food…Go talk to a local butcher or farmer or get to know the person at the meat counter at whole foods or the grocery store, learn to cook (and make it a family affair), turn the TV off and eat dinner with the family or others, slow down and enjoy each bite. Try to know where the food comes from, try to buy local. Don’t buy foods where you are unsure of what certain ingredients are (i.e. cabon diaxylase or some crazy ingredients that sound like they came from your Chemistry class). Don’t let the social pressures defer your eating. Skip the cake at work. Find a support partner who will also try to eat healthy…and skip the cake with them!
Exercise & Movement: Make it fun, varied, sometimes challenging, and sometimes relaxing. Somehow we started confusing exercise with punishment or unpleasantness. Remember how to play, run and jump, throw and catch, swim, run slow, run fast, climb, row, whatever brings a smile to your face or lets you feel free. Go to the gym, lift weights, play a sport, join a league, or run a race. The potential here is endless. Just don’t fall into the trap of couch + TV. We often here the phrase, “it takes money to make money”. Well, this can also be applied to exercise and movement in that it takes energy to make energy. You might be surprised how good you might feel if you just get up and move around a little. Personal training is a great way to get started and to start getting in shape with some human connection.
Rest, Relaxation, Fun: Don’t forget to unwind. We don’t always have to be doing something. Turn on some music, turn off the TV, and just sit and relax. Turn of the cell phones and the TV and have a great conversation. Trade back massages with your significant other. Go to bed early. Take a catnap. Let yourself feel at ease once in a while.
Community: Buck the trend. Unplug a little bit, leave the iphone in another room, skip a TV show. Set up meetings or meet-ups with people of similar interests. Have neighborhood cookouts or parties. Ditch the big gym membership and join a smaller community. Develop your community…get to know the guy who fixes your car, the librarian, and the barista. Support local Cincinnati business…buy local if you can afford it, help others. Surround yourself with people that are good influences, people with similar goals, and people that challenge and inspire you.
It doesn’t have to be a drastic change, but think about a few of these things and how they can improve your overall wellness starting TODAY!