I’ve mentioned before that I’m passionate about preventative health, nutrition and exercise. Today I’m going to dig a little bit deeper and give you some of my views on the subject.
To recap, I am studying exercise science at Grand Valley State University. I originally wanted to work in a career where I would have been helping fix a problem, such as therapy or through medication. However, the deeper I’ve gotten into my degree the more I’ve become passionate about working towards a solution before the medication or therapy are necessary. Thus, preventing the problem in the first place or using healthier options to aid in the healing process.
We all know exercising and eating healthy are good things. We know we should choose an apple over a cupcake or veggies over pizza. But, I think the hard part is the choice. Our country is FULL of marketing techniques that target unhealthy foods. Food companies stimulate our minds with images and quotes that make us think we are hungry. Healthy choices tend to be on the down low. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve walked into a gas station looking for a healthy snack and I opt out with a preservative-filled granola bar or sugar-packed juice. Sure, these are healthier options than the twinkies or the snickers, but with the scientific advancements the United States has made in other areas it disappoints me that we haven’t promoted healthful choices to the degree we are capable of.
Something that is completely mind-boggling to me is how eating well and working out is seen as out of the ordinary in many cases. There is a negative association with the word “diet” and exercise is seen as something to find extra time for that we don’t seem to have.
First, let me say that “diet” does not have to mean restriction. According to a google search the definition of diet is “the kinds of foods that a person, animal, or community eats”. Your diet is simply what your food intake consists of. The definition of a healthy diet is “a variety of foods that give you the nutrients you need to maintain your health, feel good, and have energy. These nutrients include protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals.” Eating nutrient dense foods and avoiding high-fat and high-sugar contents are some of the most important things you can do when it comes to eating.
Second, exercise does not have to be this overly strenuous headache that some people think it up to be. A google search for exercise defines it as “activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness”. It can be fun. It can be social. It improves health. It doesn’t have to be long and hard core. It has tremendous benefits, as most people know (I could go on about this but I’ll leave it at that for now). Just making some time to go on a daily walk can have positive effects on your body. Trying to incorporate some kind of exercise into your day can really make a difference on how you feel and improves your health in the long run.
1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.
To switch gears a little bit, being healthy starts with scripture. I hold this verse close to my heart because health is such a big focus of mine. Our bodies are a temple of God. He says loud and clear how important it is to take care of our bodies because they are “not our own”.
We were made to take care of our bodies. Our bodies need nutritious foods for optimal health. Our bodies benefit from exercise in a multitude of ways. Eating the good stuff and moving our bodies should be daily habits, but we live in a society where being too busy is the norm and people put their health on the back burner. Not to mention, the temptations the food industries market at every corner. Even if you are trying to better yourself in these areas, the way our culture values food and encourages high-fat, high-sugar options is nuts. Hence, we are living among an obesity epidemic.
I watched a video for class recently that talked about how heart attacks, type 2 diabetes, and strokes are occurring in children because of the increases in childhood obesity today. One teenager who was 15-years old had bariatric surgery done to help him lose weight… 15-years old. He was 400 pounds. The generation of children now are expected to live shorter lives than their parents due to obesity and the health problems associated. We live in a world where being overweight is “normal”.
And I’m not at all saying don’t have your pig out days. I most definitely do and anyone who knows me will tell you I don’t hold back. I love pizza and I have the biggest sweet tooth. It is completely okay to eat the ice-cream or the french fries sometimes. But, the problem is when these habits start to become your normal diet in addition to being sedentary. That’s when the weight comes on, the unhappiness settles, and the motivation decreases.
And you don’t have to have abs to exercise. Do activities that you enjoy so it doesn’t feel like a chore. And take days off. Go out for lunch instead of hitting the gym sometimes. Being healthy does not have to seem like a restricting, “not fun” way to live.
My opinion on the entire thing? We need to work at ignoring society’s push to eat unhealthy and in large quantities. We need to advocate for healthy living and have fun with it. We need to surround ourselves with community that helps us live our best healthful lives. We need to try to make time to cook real whole foods. We need to work at finding that open window of time to slip some exercise into our day. AND, we need to give ourselves grace cause no one is perfect at it. Culture isn’t going to change. Only we can change for ourselves.
I heard a quote from a seminar one time that said something like this: “Eat when you’re hungry and eat well. Stop when you’re full. Exercise. And your body will form to how it is supposed to look”. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Eating well and exercising is important, and I hope you start (if you haven’t already) to think so too.