Thursday, June 21, 2012

Transformation...

One of the workout DVDs I love is "Ripped in 30" by Jillian Michaels. At the end of one workout she says "Transformation is not a future event, it is a present activity". The first time I heard her say that I was struck by what a beautiful and powerful statement that is. It's an off workout day for me and I took the dog on a mile walk this morning. I thought about Jillian's statement while I was walking, and realized how important it is to change our small daily behaviors when we're working toward a change.

One thing I do each work day is try to take a 10-15 minute walk on campus. Fortunately, we have an indoor walking track so I can get my walk in when the weather isn't pleasant. I originally started doing this for mental health, to get a break from the day, to regroup, and to soak up my Vitamin D and fresh air. It has the added benefit of helping me move more each day. I also have a Jawbone UP, which is a pedometer-like device that I wear on my wrist. It keeps track of my steps each day, and I can set it to vibrate if I haven't moved in an hour. I love how it makes me more mindful of my movement (even though it malfunctions quite often!).

I finished reading the book "Veganist" last night. After I consume some of the dairy products that we currently have, I'm going to try a week of a completely plant based diet. There are many reasons I'd like to do this. The most compelling is the scientific and anecdotal evidence of the effect of a plant based diet on health. Another is to reduce my carbon footprint and stop contributing to factory farming.

One theme I keep coming back to this week is how much guilt and shame is experienced by people who struggle with weight. There is a definite message in our culture that being overweight is bad and that we are overweight because of our own choices. We tend to overlook how American culture makes it nearly impossible to eat well without putting in concerted effort. I was thinking about that a lot this morning, and then in my blog feed I read this post about how viewing images of food stimulates a hormone that causes hunger. Think about how many food ads we see each day! I've reached the point where most food ads are gross to me, and when I see food ads at the gym while I'm doing cardio it actually gives me more motivation and drive.

Many of the personal stories in the "Veganist" book started with people becoming obese or unhealthy by doing the same things as everyone else in their lives. My story started the same way. I ate what my Mom cooked, what my friends ate, and what my TV was telling me to eat. It takes effort to realize that the American way of eating isn't necessarily the best way of eating. It takes effort to avoid fast food and take out. It takes effort to buy whole foods and cook them yourself. And like Jillian said, you have to put in the effort every day to make a change. You don't have to go all out, you can make small changes over time that will pile up into a shift to a more healthy and sustainable life.  

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