Everywhere I look there’s a virtual flood of articles, research and news headlines about the trouble with our food.
GMOs…organic vs. natural…gluten free and dairy free…paleo and raw food…meatless Mondays.
Are we watching sodium or calories or preservatives or trans fats? It seems to change by the week, and every new finding somehow contradicts the last piece of advice we were told was life-saving.
What about food coloring? Sustainable farming? Protein powder? Do I really need to be eating kale?
It’s hard to know what to focus on and how much obsession over what we consume is enough. In the past year, I’ve made changes to keep most of what we eat at home organic. We’re not perfect, not even close (there are absolutely Pop Tarts in our pantry right now). But, small steps have made it a gradually manageable change. I started with a focus on organic milk and meat, and now the majority of our produce and raw foods are organic, too. I’ve tried to eliminate processed foods where possible; instead of buying ready-made pizza crusts, I spend 10 minutes making one from scratch. I don’t buy Rice-a-Roni, I buy long-grain brown rice and season it myself. Soups are homemade rather than from cans. Baby steps, baby steps.
But with all this talk about what we’re eating, where’s the debate on how we exercise? If we’re reverting to a paleolithic approach to cuisine, should we also back off of running a distance of 26 miles for sport, because I don’t think many cave dwellers did that. And what about weight lifting machines? What real-world movements does a squat rack or BowFlex replicate?
I think that if we’ve taking a serious national mindset toward what we eat, it’s just as important that we evaluate our views on physical activity. The way most of us have been conditioned to view fitness is not only inadequate and impractical, but a recipe for overuse and repetitive-motion injuries.
Cavemen didn’t eat Doritos, but they also didn’t spend hours on elliptical machines or doing crunches. Today’s accepted views of exercise are as skewed from their natural state as our diets are. If we’re eating for optimal health and longevity, let’s exercise with that as a goal, too. The fitness industry makes us believe we need washboard abs and a tiny waist to be healthy, which is nothing short of nonsensical.
Without negating the very serious problems with our food system, I’m suggesting we take a more comprehensive mindset toward wellness, and re-examine what we’re trying to achieve through exercise. It’s incredibly important to consider what we put into our bodies, but also how we use, strengthen and protect them.