Friday, February 2, 2007


Don't worry, I'm still on my environmental kick, but I want to talk about health for a bit. I'm a doctoral student in health promotion and I spend my days studying health, but I don't post much about it. I think that I should though because people generally need to hear it. My family's choice to go without is primarily health driven. With increasing incidence of autism, ADD, cancers, and many other chronic diseases it makes me wonder what the causes are. Most are not really known. Autism, for example, seems to have some links to nutrition and maybe television, but there is little substantial evidence as to a cause. I find that taking a step back from the Jones' (or running wildly in the opposite direction) helps to improve health in numerous ways, especially the stress of trying to keep up with everyone else. I far prefer spending time with my family than at work trying to make an extra buck. I think that is the greatest thing that I can do for the health and well-being of my family.
Fatty asked for some nutritional guidance the other day. You see he has put about $4000 on the line for a little on-line bet with random people. Now he's thinking that he really need to lose the weight and win the bets. First off, I think what he has done on his site is incredible. He has a large group that frequents his blog and many of them are competing to lose weight and increase bicycle performance. From a health promotion perspective, it's nearly impossible to get anyone to make changes in their lifestyle, yet "Fatty" has a large following that are working hard to make serious changes.
So my advice to fatty was to practice intuitive eating. It really makes sense. When you are hungry you eat and when you are no longer hungry you stop eating. Unfortunately most people have detrained their hunger signal and it needs a little help. Most people recognize when that hunger starts, but few recognize when it stops. So what you have to do is take a small helping of food for a meal and eat it. Then you sit and wait 5-10 minutes (this would be a good time to sit and talk to your family). You then ask yourself, "Am I still hungry?" Notice that you didn't ask yourself if you were full, that is a completely different feeling. We get full on Thanksgiving, that is the point when your stomach says to your brain, "if you send anything else down here, we're going to send it right back up." Also notice that you didn't ask yourself if you liked dinner or if you wanted more, or if there is just enough left so that it's not worth saving. The only reason to eat is if you are hungry. Any other food input is simply using your body as a garbage. Consistently using your body as a garbage will also make you feel like garbage.


Vertigo said...

You posted a comment on my 'Consumerism' post wondering how to get people to change...

That is pretty much the million dollar question.

Fatty does an awesome job at motivating people who are generally already of the mind to stay active. I have become convinced that in order to change a person's actions, you first have to change their ideas. I was writing an article yesterday about the fact that we have to get out of the thinking that we are entitled to a whole bunch of things. Unfortunately these things we feel entitled to are often the types of things that lead to poor lifestyle decisions and poor health.

Can't wait for Fatty's jerseys...not that I need one, but I'm sure I can find a way to justify it;)

Emily said...

You hit on some very important points. I think it goes back to the very essence of #1. how we view ourselves and our environment. The way we view the world is that we are entitled to certain pleasures. We take advantage of the fact that we have as much as we do.

How do we motivate people to voluntarily sacrafice pleasure and ease? I believe there is only one way. You know what that way is. Its not the academic answer. Its either because they are forced to do it through natural disaster, financial disaster, an act of God, OR they make the choice because they become aware of voluntary simplicity. Its the same change that has to happen when you talk to someone about God. They either believe or they don't because of force or because of humility.

Why don't I change immediately? #2. Because it is not a priority in my life or the life of my employer.
I don't have the time or the situation where I can cook healthy meals, eat at regular intervals, or excersise. My body is so soar after work that it begs for me to sit. I believe a lot of American's are in the same situation.

What is your particular role in changing people's lives? Well, I hope you can have enough influence and a strong enough voice to get lawmakers to listen. These days, it is the lawyers and the lawmakers who are in charge and FORCE change. Ignoring this simple fact will surely ensure that you don't make a change or a ripple in a very large pond.

If an employer is forced to accomodate excersise in the regular work day because of a law, they will do it. Otherwise, the cost benefit analysis must be use. Convincing an employer to make its employees physical health a priority is a lot of work because no one will want to admit that preventative medicine is a lot cheaper than treating the sick (except employers like REI who are really a co-op of members who enjoy physical excersise and sports).

My employer would scoff and tell us it is not affordable and infeasible, even though our medical costs are so high each year that I can practically claim a deduction based on my insurance premiums alone.

I am behind you 100% even though I am still living an unhealthy lifestyle and unsatisfied with my own level of health and vitality. I WANT someone to come to me and tell me that by law, my employer now has to accomodate time for me to snack on food evey 2 hours, that it has to take into account that the job is physically difficult and each employee is entitled to sit for more than half their shift in order to save their feet from chronic pain.

As the business world now functions, it required me to get a note from my doctor stating I was not allowed to be on my feet more than half the day, a person letter written to my HR department, and the intervention of several "higher ups" in the company before they gave me permission to sit in a chair.

Sitting in a chair allows me to save myself pain from standing all day in one spot. It allows me to avoid extremely painful foot cramps at the end of the week. How can I possibly excersise and live a healthy lifestyle if I can't walk without pain and I don't have a pool nearby to swim everyday?

It is easy to tell people to go excersise, but until it is more convenient, and less painful, and becomes the norm for employers as well as the normal employee, it will never be a priority. How do you stop preaching to the choir? You get the big dogs to listen and make changes. You go for the CEO's, the HR directors, and the Presidents of National Corporations. Once you can get them to listen, your changes will come, and people will be more healthy.

I believe you can do it!!! I believe you can make an argument for healthier lifestyles and the costs that will be saved. Put it into dollars and cents, and go for their financial throats.

Vertigo said...

Thanks for sharing Emily, you make some great points.

Your first point, that very few people will sacrifice pleasure and a life of ease is right on the money. Sometimes we need to be forced into change before we want to change. That is a very tough sell for a country or two of people who have this militant sense of entitlement.

Changing the minds of the big dogs is where the change has to happen.

Unfortunately, the big dogs often control the changes that can happen and if grassroots changes appear to threaten their spot as the big dog, they will squash it.

This is where guys like Mr. Auto come in. We NEED people like him to take their biblical wordview into the halls and classrooms of universities where the big dogs of tomorrow are being formed. It is ideas that will change the world, and the way to get your idea into the marketplace is to start at the university, or even high school.

The idea of post modernism began as a fad among primarily English majors in universities who questioned our ability to know anything. It was quickly abandoned by those who know better, but not before the idea spread to the culture. Now we are reaping the fallout.

The problem with that is that is a project that will last a generation before real change is seen. That leaves a whole lot of people out in the cold who have to work in conditions that are unhealthy.

That means that we need people like you who are willing to stand up to the big dogs and demand that policies change to allow workers adequate rest and nutrition...sometimes we need to force the big dogs to change.

As they say here in Japan...ganbatte! (Fight hard!)