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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Damaging Inconsistencies in the American Mindset

I've mentioned before that America's current problem with obesity and anxiety can be attributed to the inconsistencies in our culture, but it appears to be something that's becoming more accepted and challenged by popular culture. Food News Daily is back from their Holiday break (and thank god, too...I missed them!) and in their January 3rd newsletter they linked this article from slate.com.

The struggle that Ms. Tarlin talks about in this article is one that I believe we all can relate to, but I also believe that it extends far beyond the issue of food. Yes, we face the difficulty of trying to reconcile knowing what we aught to eat with what we actually eat...but we are also bombarded with "cures" and reliefs for stress and anxiety and yet we most likely pass them by. Sure, if their effects are dubious then it's a good idea to ignore their claims. However, certain best practices are passed over again and again, simply because we don't believe that we have the time or don't enjoy the activity.

Take yoga, for example. Personally, I hate yoga. I know that it's very good for you, I know that it increases circulation, that it eases the mind and body, that it limbers up muscles and joints, that those who practice yoga regularly look and feel much better for it...and yet, I can't make myself do it. As a chronic multi-tasker with an anxiety disorder the slow, methodical movements and periods of focused breathing drive me insane. And asking me to "clear my mind" is just basically a joke. I dream in fast-forward, so sitting still and focusing on nothing simply...isn't going to happen.

Fortunately, my hatred for yoga made me realize something.


If a certain approach to something doesn't work for you, there are (usually) a myriad of other approaches that you can use to achieve roughly the same results. So you don't like yoga, but you still want to lose weight and build muscle? Try using a combination of cardio and circuit training. Sure, it's not as relaxing as yoga, but you will still be getting all sorts of other benefits, and if it works for you, you'll stick with it.

I have a very similar approach to food. I am not a very picky eater and I have a fairly diverse, adventurous palette. However, there are a few foods that I simply...do not like. Not at all, in fact, and those foods, I avoid. No matter how healthy something is, if you hate it, you shouldn't try to force yourself to eat it. Certain foods require you to develop a taste for them and that's fine. But if you just assume that you don't want to eat healthfully because you happen to dislike steamed vegetables or whole wheat bread, then try roasting your vegetables or making your own bread.

I think the reason why we avoid doing those things that we know we should do for our health is because they are inconvenient. To some extent, you do need to bite the bullet and make a commitment to rethink your priorities. However, making healthful decisions shouldn't be prohibitively difficult. Find those activities and foods that work for you and then capitalize on them. You'll be healthier and happier...and you can kick all that guilt to the curb.

The Calm Cook

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