The average American consumes about 50% more calories than that which is needed for optimal health. This would not be such a big problem if these calories were burnt off through daily exercise, but, at 600 calories per hour of running, the average American would have to run for 90 minutes a day to maintain a healthy weight. And let’s face it, very few Americans exercise for 90 minutes per week (let alone 90 minutes per day). That’s why 3 out of every 4 Americans will be overweight by 2020…
Fact: America (and the rest of the developed world) can blow as much money as they want on diet and weight-loss fads, but they will keep getting fatter until they correct their energy balance. It really is that simple.
Even though the guidelines given in the health plan advocated on this blog will result in significant health improvements, they cannot guarantee perpetual optimal health. Health and longevity are influenced by many factors, some of which we have little or no control over. Examples of these factors include genetics, the widespread chemical pollution in our air, water and food, and accidents.
Following these guidelines and building yourself a healthy micro-environment within which excellent lifestyle choices become easy and natural can add many years to your life and much life to your years. This is an indisputable fact based on countless scientific studies, conventional wisdom and plain old common sense. However, even though your chances of being healthy and independent at 100 will increase significantly if you follow these guidelines, this is by no means guaranteed. In the post about the Okinawan people whose traditional healthy lifestyles grant them tremendous health and longevity in comparison to westerners, we saw that these people still die from heart disease and cancer (the only difference is that their chances of suffering this fate is about 10 times less than that of the average American).
But hey, the primary purpose of being healthy is not to prevent degenerative disease. The primary purpose is enjoying the wonderful services of an optimized and fully functional body/mind each and every day. Your body/mind is the thing you use to interact with the world around you, to contribute and to share. Really, if your body/mind is fat, underdeveloped and sluggish, you are only half alive.
It’s time to start living.
In this penultimate health post, we will spend some time on the resistances that people are likely to experience when starting to build towards optimal health. Most of the resistances are related to the macro-environment we live in today with all of its junk food, factory farming and GMO subsidies, sedentary jobs and sedentary leisure activities. This entire series of personal health posts have been fighting this powerful enemy and this post will be no different. Let’s take a look:
Our world has become completely obsessed with convenience. Things like preparing your own healthy food and cycling to work are simply seen as way too much effort. For leisure, it is simply much more convenient to just plop down in front of the TV than to get some friends together for a friendly game of football. Besides, tearing all of your friends away from their own TV’s will be a real mission.
As always, the solution is simply to discipline yourself for a short while to create a micro-environment where these factors are not an issue anymore. Learn some quick, easy and healthy recipes, buy yourself a nice e-bike, join a local social sports team and, if you are really serious about this, throw out your TV. Only a few weekends of building such an environment will grant you a lifetime of automatic and self-sustaining personal health. Just do it.
We have managed to make unhealthy living so incredibly practical that it has simply become the default choice. Drive-through fast food joints, soda vending machines at schools, home movie theaters with streamed movies, escalators and elevators in every building with more than two floors… I mean, when it comes to commercializing unhealthy living, we are the champs. On the other hand, organic produce can be hard to find and many destinations within our modern cities can only be reached by car.
This is a real problem for which there unfortunately are no quick fixes, but you can again go a long way by simply designing a healthy micro-environment as advocated throughout the entire series of health posts. The ultimate in micro-environment design (which we will look at later) is selecting your home in a location especially suited for making happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable living as practical as at all possible. Solutions such as these are lot of effort, but in the long run, they are certainly worth it.
Most people will find unhealthy eating to be a lot cheaper than healthy eating. Government subsidies, unethical production methods and chemical fertilizers/pesticides all contribute to the low cost of unhealthy foods. This is an unfortunate modern reality we have to deal with.
However, since your health is arguably your most precious possession, going cheap on your food is not exactly the smartest idea. Unfortunately, due to our socialistic healthcare systems, really looking after yourself does not give the kind of direct financial returns that it should, but healthy living will still save you a lot of money through reduced medical expenses (and also increase your earning capacity).
Also keep in mind that a growing demand for organic plant-based whole foods will lead directly to large-scale production which will increase the availability and decrease the price. Yes, those front-runners who pave the way towards healthy living will have to carry some extra weight, but, as more and more people join, the journey will become progressively easier and cheaper.