Written by Sean Armstead
Edited by Riley Constantine
Having poor health and low stamina, energy, and muscle strength is quite common in our society, and this is especially true for those of us living in urban environments.
In an era long gone, man’s plight was a physical one. Whether by hunting, farming, or manual labor, human beings had to work for their food in order to survive. This fact of life was true even during the industrial revolution, and our food sources were still fresh and wholesome as recently as the 1960’s.
Unfortunately, humanity’s quality of life has worsened. We live in an age of highly advanced and sophisticated technology, and while that said technology has many advantages, there are numerous disadvantages to our physical well-being. At work, we sit at a desk, acting like slaves to our computers, emails, and the unending plethora of Microsoft/IBM products in order to earn a living.
After a long day of wrist aching labor, we all go home, relax and celebrate…by metaphorically handcuffing ourselves to a computer, logging in to our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, MySpace, and Reddit accounts. We basically conduct the same amount of exercise as we do at work: none.
And our devolving sedentary lifestyle is only part of the problem! Food manufacturing has become a sales driven trillion-dollar industry. The days where people had to hunt or farm food for themselves are gone. Expansive supermarkets and cheap fast food restaurants can be found on every other corner, selling unhealthy and processed food of all varieties. Healthy meals, proteins, and vitamins have all been sacrificed for convenience, speed of preparation, and taste (and dough… both processed and $$$$). In fact, we often rely on supermarkets and restaurants so often we rarely prepare food to feed our families, which causes us to become “over-fed and under nourished.”
Combined with a sedentary lifestyle, our poor nutrition means that many of us are overweight, possibly obese, and have poor posture. Whether young or old, no one is immune.
But wait! There is good news! Despite a dismal outlook on our overall quality of life, we have access to the highest number of fitness facilities, weight-loss companies, and health related products in history. Additionally, the internet provides an enormous amount of information regarding exercise and weight-loss strategies. The trick to changing our lifestyles is by utilizing this information so that we can improve our health, strength, and body composition.
The food that we eat should ideally address four needs:
- mental clarity
- a reduction in cravings
- supporting the immune function
- providing energy
In order to properly address these needs, our food choices and meals must be fresh, wholesome, and balanced. That means we need to eat non-processed foods high in proteins/fats (such as meat, avocados, seeds, and nuts) and carbohydrates (such as fruits, veggies, legumes, and grains). Fresh food is important because processed food is superficial and doesn’t add any value to our health. They invest money in products that target 3 areas:
French fries with cat-sup are not vegetables!
Oatmeal with toast and orange juice is a poor breakfast because it is an all sugar meal!
Meals must be balanced with protein and fat (which would easily be covered if some meat accompanied the meal). A typical meal for someone desiring to lose weight should be ¼ meat and ¾ vegetables. There are specific hormones that help burn fat and therefore use it as an energy source. There are hormones that signal our bodies to store fat. In the presence of high sugar in the blood (which occurs from eating a high carb meal) the body stores fat and does not use it as a primary energy source. This is dangerous because it causes us to become overweight and obese quite easily. Our organs (stomach, kidneys, liver, heart) do not function well when there is a surplus of body fat.
Do note that the fat we can visibly see on the outside is only part of the equation: the body fat on the inside can be toxic and reduce the optimal function of our organs. Excess fat can strain our joints and connective tissue (non-bone, non-muscle that assist in our structural integrity). When our muscles are weak and we carry too much additional weight, those factors can wreak havoc on our joints and small muscles that control movements. This is why so many people have pain in their bodies even though they have never been in a physical accident.
People frequently complain about not having the time to eat better or work out. Unfortunately, these same people forget to realize that they will instead be forced to take time being ill.
Becoming more physically active and improving nutrition will do wonders for your health. In order to alter your lifestyle for the better, focus on the following:
- Move more. Include walks, dancing, swimming, bodyweight exercise
- Eating fresh wholesome foods must be the norm not the exception
- Try to get as much fresh air as possible
- Drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day
- Involve your family