Re-Thinking Health and Nutrition

When most Americans think about going to the gym, they don’t get a smile on their faces – they probably get a grimace instead! This isn’t their fault – most parents over the last few generations didn’t have the extra time and/or interest to monitor what their kids were eating or making sure they were getting interested in sports, hiking, bicycling, or other fun, physical activities. Over the last century especially there have been too many distractions and comforts for people to be able to focus on what is critical to enjoying life and that is maintaining excellent health.

Unless you are in the lucky minority of Americans who went to a private school, you were forced to depend on the public school system for nutritional information and understanding exercise. Until quite recently they have done a terrible job with nutrition – it has been ignored entirely except for a small portion of a single class (health) and vending machines packed with sweets, chips and sodas have been prevalent across middle schools and high schools over the entire Country. Additionally, while the schools attempt to instill interest in sports and physical activities through Physical Education classes, they end up doing just as much harm as good.It is good to make children exercise but it is worthless if they don’t understand why they are doing it. Even children who like sports and other physical activities tend to have not liked their P.E. classes, which is a pretty amazing feat.

You can’t make a child understand exercise through grades, rules, and forced social interactions and games. You have to educate the child first on what exercise and nutrition are, so that the child will begin to develop an understanding of the relationship between how he or she treats their body and the corresponding affects. Unfortunately, it is now far too late for many people to change the bad habits they picked up in the past through poor education and instruction. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t educate yourself now so that you can begin eating properly and not only exercising regularly, but enjoying doing both.

When thinking about food people need to start considering what goes into everything they eat. This doesn’t mean you need to understand what “soybean lecithin” or other strange ingredients are, but it does mean you need to think about how many calories it has, how much fat it has, how much sugar it has, and how many carbohydrates it has. If don’t want to take the time to learn that much about food (which I would highly recommend) you can simplify things by asking yourself “is it healthy or not?” What constitutes healthy is pretty straight-forward – natural fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains that have not been overly-processed or enhanced with sweeteners, preservatives, or other artificial food elements. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat unhealthy foods occasionally too – but if you can’t first understand what healthy is, how will you even know whether the food you are eating is good or bad for you? You can’t, which is why it is critical to get some basic understanding of the 5 Food Groups and what actually is in your food. This information can easily be obtained by going on the Internet, reading a book or magazine, or just checking the labels on your food and at the store.

While monitoring what you eat is important, it is just as important that you understand the value of exercise so that besides losing weight, you can physically achieve whatever you can dream of. Your only limitations are the mental limitations you place on yourself. Exercise is the one of the most enjoyable and interesting ways to test these limitations, as your body acts in a symbiotic harmony with your brains ability to function and reason. Whether it is playing basketball, going for a bike ride with friends, or just something as simple as going for a walk by the river, you need to find the types of physical exertion that bring you pleasure. This could be from competitiveness and social interaction, but will surely be supplemented by the enzymes your body releases when it is getting exercised. Most people are scared to try new sports or activities because they don’t won’t to look or feel stupid if they aren’t any good at it. Here’s a secret – the scariest part of trying something is failing at it, but if you can understand that by trying you have already succeeded then you have won the battle against understanding exercise already.

If you can change the way you think about diet and exercise than you can change the way you eat and work-out so that you enjoy living a healthy lifestyle. That is the ultimate goal – crazy boot-camp work-outs and celebrity-endorsed fad diets may help you lose weight or enhance your body in a way you enjoy, but they are doing so in an unnatural, unhealthy way that is impossible to maintain. Remember, the goal shouldn’t just be getting fit, it needs to be getting fit and staying that way.