Sunday, September 30, 2012

On Health, Discipline, and Resisting Mediocrity

So, following the last post, while we're on the topic of health, inasmuch as being healthy is a key factor in aging well and having a high quality of life, I would like to say a few more words about it here.

Health. Everyone acknowledges its importance, but few consistently live in a manner that is conducive to optimal health. There is so much laziness. Bad information. Poor choices. People are tired, from working too long at jobs that are either too sedentary, too tiresome, or are less than gratifying. People are fat and undisciplined, accustomed to eating poorly, and eating way too much. Fast food. Processed meats. Microwave dinners. Salty snacks. Sodas. Too much sugar, salt, and fat. Too many artificial sweeteners and colors. Eating too many empty calories and nutritionally deficient meals. It's like everyday there is a war being waged against the body, but our mainline of defense rests primarily upon the everyday choices we make, in regards to what we choose to eat and how much exercise we get.

Yadi yadi yada. Most people know that they should strive to be healthy, to make healthier food and lifestyle choices, but problem is people are largely irrational beings, who often do the opposite of what they know they should. They rebel against healthy living. They rebel against rationality and common sense. Like the cigarette smoker who is in denial that their habit is ruining their health, that mistakenly believes they have a good chance of beating the odds and not get cancer, people eating poorly, just don't care, they prefer not to think about it, about the future consequences of their actions.

Reminds me of one of my past jobs, where most of my co-workers ate fast food everyday for lunch. And this one time when someone, not me, made a comment about how fattening the food was, I think it was McDonald's, and the guy eating it, said something like at least he'll die happy. But really when you think about it, that is not true, because while he may feel happy, or rather, happily stuffed and sedated today, can't say the same for tomorrow, when they are riddled with diseases and in constant pain later down the road, won't be so happy then will they. But such statements, are just another way of making excuses, living in denial, doing everything you can to justify your bad choices.

I'm not immune. Though I would say that most of my life, thanks to my parents, has been characterized by extremely healthy food choices, home cooked meals, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, a tendency of avoiding overly processed foods, fried foods, fast foods, foods with too much fat and salt. But there have been a few times that I have indulged in poor food choices, where I've been out, without packing a lunch, and not wanting to spend much money, succumbed to the decision to eat fast food, a burger and fries, fried chicken, Taco Bell, etc. Not many times though. For real. But enough times to know how it effected me.

What I have noticed when doing so, is just how much that type of fried fatty fast food is addictive. It does something to you to alter your body chemistry, where once you start eating that type of food, even if only once a week, you start wanting it all the time. I think it alters your taste buds too, making natural slow foods, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, seem more unappealing. Where if it isn't buried under a layer of excessive fat and salt, it's boring. That's what a diet of fast food does to you, the more you eat it, the more you'll want to eat it, and if you don't nip it in the bud, you'll eventually be eating it all the time.

Though I have come to realize that it is a counterproductive waste of time trying to convince people who do not want to change, to change their eating habits, to talk people out of eating fast food, and not just fast food, but all processed garbage foods with too much salt and fat. I mean you can try, but the odds that it will do any good are slim. They will come up with all kinds of excuses, or maybe they'll cut it down a little bit, but very few will cut it out completely based entirely on your suggestions. It's something that each person must choose for themselves.

So I can only speak for myself, when I say that it is absolutely imperative that I regularly exercise and diligently adhere to a whole foods diet no matter what.

Physical fitness is a prerequisite to holistic health and happiness. Eating healthfully, exercising discipline and self-restraint at all times, not succumbing to the temptation of fast food, junk food, and processed convenient foods, is vitally important to me. Some people will call me fanatical, say that moderation is the key, you can eat junk food once in awhile, it's okay to have a greasy burger and fries, dead food in box, etc., just don't eat it all the time. One Big Mac isn't going to kill you. True. Same could be said for a shot of heroin, or a hit of crack, it probably won't kill you, but you'd also be better off without it. If I am fanatical, then so be it, it is with good reason.

Whenever I have indulged in bad habits, even if infrequently or in moderation, consuming anything that I know to be bad for me, that is contrary to my worldview, and the kind of person I aspire to be, strong, healthy, sober, intelligent, it has had a negative effect on me. And as long as I continue to do so, even if just a little bit, I can see myself falling into a pattern of not caring, of giving up, of throwing my entire life away into a cesspool of mediocrity. Where it's not just a matter of making a bad food choice, it negatively effects my entire life, and that is why I must avoid those things at all costs.

That's what junk food does to people over time, it robs you of your capacity for self-discipline and personal excellence, where you become sloppier and lazier in your thinking and habits, not just what you consume, but everything you do, and how you live your life. A sloppy diet builds a sloppy mind, and feeds an attitude of laziness and mediocrity. After all, if you smoke, and eat unhealthy foods on a regular basis, how could you say that health and discipline is important to you? There can be no room for discipline, if you are regularly undisciplined with such a basic everyday necessity as food. Where is there room for health, for discipline, for diligence, efficiency, productivity, when you do not exercise such qualities and habits in regards to the management of your own body and mind?

This is my opinion, based on how it has effected me. But does it effect everyone this way? I think it does, but maybe some people are so locked into a mentality of mediocrity already that they either don't notice or they don't care.

Old habits die hard. The longer a habit has to get established, the more difficult it is to give up. Best to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. You can give recommendations to people, but each person must work on themselves, make their own choices, and take responsibility for their own actions. It's a harsh and painful truth that few want to believe, that in your quest for health and personal excellence, as much as you'd like to share and recommend your way of life, you will find that some people really are lost causes. There is no hope for them. They are completely unreachable, completely content with their mediocrity. Better to work on yourself and be a living example. Sometimes that is all you can do.

*This is post 19 of 20, part of my "20 posts in 30 days" challenge. Apparently I like to wait until the very last minute to wrap things up, but now it feels like a race, where I once held the lead, but is now a desperate struggle to the finish. No, I do not schedule my posts in advance, these are live. But in my defense, I figured it would help keep things interesting, that working under pressure would keep me on my toes. Well, we're almost there, only one more post to go! The race is still on, we're neck and neck, but will I make it?