America is great. We have so many choices that our freedom offers us that sometimes we don’t even realize it. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. We are also overstimulated in all of the messages we hear: healthy “sports” drinks endorsed by our favorite sports star that are filled with sugar (stars never shine so brightly as when they take a paycheck to the bank) food labels that tell us that our cereal has “multi-grains” but doesn’t place anything on the label about it being packed with sugar (tastes great though). We wonder why we all have such a hard time getting healthy, but we don’t realize that below the conscious mind there are many factors pushing us to decide to choose the wrong things. We are more likely to choose the candy bar over the apple, or the wii game over the actual activity because we are told to; and if it’s one thing we can do in America, it’s follow someone else’s lead. Thinking and will-power take energy and we have none because we eat terribly in our efforts to “be like Mike”. It’s easier to just stop resisting and give in. It’s like when kids ask for cookies, after a while, we all just give in and off they go with crumbs on faces.
The marketing world knows that eventually we will give in. There is a marketing axiom that says that a person needs to see/hear your ad 8 times to remember it and take action. There is research out there on it. They hit us over and over and eventually we will break down.
We are also victims of our environment. The California Center for Public Health Advocacy did a study that actually quantifies and qualifies your neighborhood in relation to fast food saturation* It is proven in the study that if you live in a neighborhood with a high RFEI (Retail Food Environment Index) you are more likely to be obese.
We are creatures of habit, convenience, and easily led.
How do we overcome it? There is no solution that comes in a bottle, can, or package. The changes we can make will only happen when we take steps to make changes. Period. We need to pry ourselves off the couch, turn off the TV and move. We need to not be so concerned about spending a few pennies more to buy healthy food over other easier cheaper unhealthy food choices. We need to align ourselves with someone else who can motivate us, be a role model or even just a shoulder to cry on. That support can be the difference between staying active or giving up. We need to model that good behavior so our friends reinforce us in our choices. Who doesn’t like to hear “Man, you look good. You workin’ out?”?
We need to change the lives of our children. We need to get them into an activity program. Sports and physical activity, loving it and wanting to feel that good your whole life is the secret we need to share with our kids. This generation of children has a shorter life expectancy than we do, the first generation in recorded history that can say that. I don’t think that’s ok. It’s not with my kids. So get your kids involved in a program, join a team, try many different ones, try Gymfinity, or try one of the other quality programs around. But do something.
At your 4th of July picnic, take one less helping of the BBQ and infuse a little physical fun into the picnic. Play a game, have a squirt gun fight, go for a swim. Have fun with the kids and they’ll enjoy it too; but more than that, they’ll understand that “physical” is fun, feels great and is something they want to do more.
Have a happy and healthy 4th.
* The study calculated the proportion of fast-food restaurants and convenience stores near each adult respondent’s home compared to grocery stores and produce vendors. The Retail Food Environment Index (RFEI) was arrived at by dividing the total number of fast-food restaurants and convenience stores by the total number of grocery stores (including supermarkets) and produce vendors (including produce stores and farmers’ markets) within a given radius around the person’s home address (0.5 mile in urban areas, 1 mile in smaller cities and suburban areas, and 5 miles in rural areas). The study found a strong and direct relationship between the RFEI of the area in which someone lives and their likelihood of being obese or having diabetes. California adults living in high RFEI areas (RFEI of 5.0 or higher) had a 20 percent higher prevalence of obesity and a 23 percent higher prevalence of diabetes than their counterparts living in RFEI areas of 3.0 or lower.