As I get older, I'm finding that I have increasingly less tolerance for the marketers of the world, the folks who want us to poison ourselves or take care of ourselves wrongly under the guise of health. And it's all just to make a quick buck.
Now don't get me wrong: I don't believe there's anything wrong with money, but what's really more important is providing value to the world. If you provide value to the world, the world will provide value to you in return. And that's not saying that you'll get rich, that's saying you'll have a life that is happy and rewarding. The rewards may be financial, or spiritual, or they may be a number of things. But they all supply energy to us - whether it's financial energy, emotional energy, what have you.
But the modern world increasingly has little to do with treating ourselves well. We're told that we're treating ourselves well if we buy a new car, or get that new pair of running shoes, or to eat all our grains, and more. But what's really happening here?
Cars have made us lazy and sick. They've cut us off from society at large and allowed us to incubate in little cocoons with a huge lack of social input. I've been talking about this on my Bike Commuting in Columbus blog for over three years now, so I'll let you visit that blog for some input on that. But we're continually told that cars are something our society needs. "What's good for GM is good for the country," we were frequently told - now we're finding out that this isn't the case at all.
Running shoes have been shown to be useless. Or actually, they're worse than useless, they're injuring us and making us worse runners. I encourage you to read Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall if you haven't - and he also has a great blog. And also, check out the many reports on the benefits of barefoot running that are appearing all over the news.
Grains may be the worst of these - they're almost directly responsible for the obesity epidemic we're seeing in the developed world today. The government recommendation for carbohydrate intake is about twice what is healthy for us, and all those extra calories are going straight into body fat, creating insulin-related inflammation, and creating a rise in degenerative diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes; and are also increasingly linked to ADHD, Autism, Multiple Sclerosis, and other neurological conditions. I encourage you to check out Primal Body-Primal Mind: Empower Your Total Health The Way Evolution Intended (...And Didn't) by Nora Gedgaudas and The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy by Mark Sisson if you want to know more on this.
So how do I try to overcome these challenges to my mindset and my health? Simple: I don't own a car, for one. I ride my bike or take the bus to work. And I've located my home in a place that is easily accessible to both easily navigable bike routes and the bus routes that get me to where I need to go. Am I 100% car free? Well, no, that's not as easy in our city, unfortunately - it was laid out for car traffic. But we're changing that.
When I run, I try to run in the flattest shoes possible. No padding, and no shoes if I can help it. It makes me run as our bodies were designed - not landing on the heel like our modern shoes encourage us to do. It seems crazy, but running that way actually puts MORE stress on our feet, not less. Vibram FiveFingers make these, and Nike makes their Nike Free models that are similar (without looking as odd).
And I try not to eat grains, or anything that contains grains (or too many carbohydrates for that matter). This is the hardest one - our society is surrounded by high-carbohydrate and grain-based foods. And we're told how all-American it is to support our farmers (not that I disagree with that, by the way, I just wish they were planting something a little healthier). But I try to avoid shopping in the aisles at grocery stores, and stick to the walls - where all the produce, eggs, meats, and fish are. Even some dairy isn't bad for us on occasion. I'm also fortunate in that I live two doors away from a local organic market and can get good healthy food whenever I need. And I get all the carbs I need from veggies and fruit, and my body has slowly modified itself to get more energy out of animal fats (as our ancestors did).
And I drink Body Balance, which is a whole-food sea vegetable/aloe vera-based drink that has done wonders for my health and physical performance in filling in the cracks where modern food lets us down (mostly in nutrient value due to over-tilled soil).
And most important, I don't watch that much TV. I don't open myself up to the advertising and subliminal messages that ads send to our brains. I listen to positive and productive messages almost every day and fill my head with affirming ideas. Morning Coach, Success Magazine, and a whole host of other personal development folks let me do that.
So I've thrown a lot of stuff at you today. Some of it may help you, some may not. But what I really hope I've done is open your mind to the idea that what we're being told, even by people who may think they're trying to help us, isn't always good. Don't be afraid of alternative voices, and don't be afraid to experiment a bit. I tried lots of different stuff before I settled on the lifestyle I have now, and I'm still studying and modifying to make it really work for me and make my life better. Keep learning, keep applying new knowledge, and don't be afraid of what's out there.