A recent article in the NOW newspaper from Dr. Davidicus Wong, gave examples on how to stay healthy. Most of it was text book: eat right, exercise daily, and have a positive outlook on life. This is no easy task. How do you stay fit and how do you balance life’s ups & downs?
We all know that eating right and having a good diet is important to our health – we heard this from our parents and most of us teach the same mantra to our own children. But…. and there is always a but … do the current gurus realize how much more difficult it is today with better incomes, urban living and ready access to a number of fast food outlets? 30 years ago, going out for a burger on Friday night was a treat. Now it has become the norm for individuals and families to stop by a MacDonald’s en route home after work, after the kid’s soccer game, after volunteering. That’s right, some busy people regularly eat a Big Mac, fries and a cola most days. This equals 1200 calories that most do not consider part of their daily food intake but rather a quick snack while coping with traffic, stress and/or getting kids to their extracurricular activities. It’s not easy to eat right in today’s fast paced life style. We have little time to analyze why we eat what we eat; we just know we need food to keep us going. On the plus side, fast foods are often easier, tastier and less stressful than making a home cooked meal. And to keep us coming back, fast food chains spend millions of dollars annually to develop foods with just the right amount of fat, sugar and salt that entice our taste buds and keeps us as repeat customers.
I thought that 30 minutes of exercise at least three times a week would guarantee me good health forever – apparently I was wrong. Now it is 5 times a week and should include aerobics as well as resistance training. I have been a believer in exercise all my life – even in my teens I ran daily. Back then I knew that exercise would give me some leeway to indulge in a few extra calories to keep my weight stable – it all about looking good. Now, and I just turned 60 in April, I exercise regularly not just to stay in shape, but to maintain a healthy heart and prevent mobility and cognitive issues. According to Dr. Davidicus, exercise is not just for athletes and even at age 60, one can build muscle and increase strength. I agree. As an avid cyclist and walker, I know that I am stronger and have more endurance than many folks in my age group. And with my children grown and some flexibility in my work hours, it is easier to schedule time for exercise and cook healthy meals, unlike the hectic pace when we were growing our family as well as our careers. Back then, White Spot, A&W, and KFC regularly helped with the weekly meal plans.
Expectations & Balance:
In the movie Parenthood, Steve Martin’s grandmother said “Life is like a ride on the roller coaster” full of ups and downs. As we move from our teen years to adulthood and become parents ourselves, we begin to realize some of the challenges of balancing personal needs with our obligations to family, job and community. Everyone has stress which, at low levels, is normal and healthy. The challenge is to not let the day to day stresses overwhelm us to the point of illness or unhappiness. In Steven Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he talks about proactivity and how important it is to take control, make things happen rather than react, take responsibility for our actions and be aware there are always choices. So choosing the drive thru at your favourite fast food restaurant en route home may not always be good for the diet but may help to reduce stress and increase quality of life. It may also mean you have find time to hit the gym more often!