Friday, April 3, 2009

Excuses

This post will be about excuses. I have a variety of excuses for not posting since November, but I won't bore you with them. I'm back now, and that's what matters, right? :) Spring has arrived and it is traditionally a time of rebirth, renewal, and new starts. I've always thought that the New Year should start in Spring, in fact, because it is so hard to have that new start mindset when everything is dead and cold all around you. I reserve most of my goal setting for the Spring time, because it is the time I feel most inspired. This year, I want to make less excuses for not doing things and just DO them.

So let's talk about excuses vs. inspiration. I am the Queen of excuse-making and procrastination, so I feel like an expert on this topic (haha). I often make excuses for why the house isn't clean, why I'm late, why I still haven't done x, y or z even with plenty of free time, and yes, I even make excuses when it comes to my health. (You knew I'd bring up health eventually, since this blog is about health and all...) WHY do we make excuses when it comes to our health? Even though I love to eat healthy, I often "forget" that exercise is important to staying healthy too. I make various excuses why I can't exercise today, tomorrow, right now. Sometimes the excuses take up more energy than would actually getting up and going for a run/walk. To help myself get more exercise in, I recently bought a used elliptical machine and I LOVE it. I can exercise in the privacy of my own bedroom and it's wonderful when the weather is yucky outside (in Humboldt, that constitutes about 80% of the year). So no more excuses for me (haha)!

When it comes to our health, we are a nation of excuse makers. Here are some stats:
  • 58 Million Overweight; 40 Million Obese; 3 Million morbidly Obese
  • Eight out of 10 over 25's Overweight
  • 78% of American's not meeting basic activity level recommendations
  • 25% completely Sedentary
  • 76% increase in Type II diabetes in adults 30-40 yrs old since 1990

SOURCE: Wellness International Network Ltd - http://web.winltd.com/

This is scary! Our bodies, the organism that we depend on for our very life, are often the most overlooked part of our lives. We rush around getting to work, to school, to a party, to vacation, and often just eat the quickest, most convenient thing. We don't "have time" to cook, to shop, to plan and prepare meals from scratch, to exercise, we "can't afford" good food, we "don't like" healthy food, we "feel fine" right now, oh the excuses go on and on. Let's take a minute to examine these common excuses and why they are harmful to your health and just plain silly (sorry).

1. I don't have time

You will have lots of time someday when you're retired, but will you feel well enough then to enjoy yourself? If you take the time NOW to learn how to shop for whole foods and prepare them from scratch, your quality and quantity of life will increase dramatically. When you plan out your weekly meals and buy the ingredients that you need, you will no longer find yourself grabbing a burger on your way home from work because you already invested the money in all that wonderful, healthy food sitting in your fridge. You can cook a big pot of soup on the weekend and have meals ready ahead of time for weeknight dinners. Filling time is really a matter of prioritizing and when you start prioritizing your health, you will make the time you need. In a future post, I will put a few recipes on here that are easy to make and can be re-heated later. But the motivation has to come from within. You have to value yourself enough to make time for your health. Don't put it off. Your body needs you NOW.

2. I can't afford good food

This is an important one, as the level of poverty is increasing in our country rapidly. It is hard enough to make house payments, car payments, credit card payments, put food on the table, pay for health care, especially when you're worried about losing your job. Again, I want to emphasize the importance of looking ahead and prioritizing. If you keep eating the way that you are, most likely you will be paying lots and lots of money to cover hospital bills, medications, and other medical expenses that come from being unhealthy. If you are truly honest with yourself, there are a couple unnecessary things you could cut out of your budget to allow more money for healthy food. You have to decide whether that new purse or new Ipod is more important than your health. What if you're below poverty level (as defined by the government) and don't buy any of the luxuries but still can't afford healthy food? I will address this in more detail in another future post, but for now, let me say that buying whole grains and legumes in bulk, as well as fresh vegetables and fruits, is cheaper (for the most part, there are exceptions) than buying pre-packaged foods. In addition, MEAT is a very expensive item on the grocery list that is also very unhealthy (it's filled with pesticides and synthetic hormones, not to mention it is a key factor in heart disease and other ailments). I'm not saying cut it out altogether, but just cut it back to a couple days a week and you will have more money to spend on vegetables and fruits. Dairy products are another pesticide-hormone laced food item that can be costly to both your pocketbook and your health. Like I said, I will cover this in much greater detail in a future post.

3. I don't like health(y) food

If you ever come over to my house for dinner, I don't think you would be saying that. However, this excuse is more grounded in reality than subjective likes or dislikes. We can and do get addicted to certain foods and it is very hard to break free from these addictions. The biggest culprits are sugar, processed flour, caffeine and salt. These actually cause chemical reactions in your body that are similar to those of some drugs, giving you a "high" and then a "low" which feels like withdrawls, leading you to crave the food to feel better again. Pretty soon, you can't function normally without this particular food because you feel fatigued and stressed until you consume it. The reason this whole cycle happens is because there is an imbalance in your body. You need to correct the imbalance and eliminate these foods from your diet. Eventually your body chemistry will change enough so that you will start liking whole fruits and vegetables, because your body inately knows what is good for it. Again, I will write a more detailed post on this topic later.

4. I feel fine right now

Wonderfully made organisms that our bodies are, they will take quite a bit of abuse before we become truly sick. I've always been super-sensitive to my body and it lets me know right away if I've eaten something that isn't good for me. For instance, if I eat dairy ice cream one night, I will wake up with an intense sinus headache and sometimes I will have a large pimple that wasn't there before! Some people are able to eat things I can't and not have any adverse effects. Do I consider them lucky or unlucky? I am actually very thankful that my body is able to cleanse itself in little ways (a cold, or even a breakout) to get the toxins out, because I know it is still working. When your body becomes so overwhelmed with toxins that it can no longer cleanse them out, more serious health problems result, like cancer. Many of the health problems that we attribute to old age are really just the results of years of toxic overload. That is why (until recently) people in Japan were free from many of the ailments that commonly plague our society. Their diet was vastly superior to our diet but when they started eating more Western foods (like McDonalds) their national health started to decline. Coincidence? I think not. There is no time like the present to examine your lifestyle and diet choices. Do you really want to take chances with your health?

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I realize that I've probably left you with more questions than I've answered. I hope I've at least gotten you to examine your own motives a little more closely. I will be following up this post with more detailed "advice" in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled. Until then, let's think a little harder about our own excuses and maybe apologize to our bodies for not making them a priority.

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