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Food? Waist? Why The Obsession?

wp-1484039503567.jpgWhy are we so obsessed with food and our waistlines? This question and more, constantly leave me with a bevy of theories or reasons why there is such a large number of women in the U.S. and the west in general  (and to a smaller degree, other parts of the world), who seem fixated on both food and their waistlines. Why the constant battle with our food? As a fitness and health strategist with a background in biological anthropology, I can’t help but wonder if something more complex, and culturally relevant is at play in this insanity, and dare I say, misconceptions based on misinformation.

This problem stems in large part, from a grossly uneducated and misinformed public with  regard to what constitutes basic “good” nutrition and the plethora of misinformation peddled by a large segment of the media, as well as the fast and processed food industries. Additionally, our food policies and regulatory agencies (i.e. FDA, USDA, etc) have failed to show leadership in this area. Let us get real with ourselves, our food choices are also (and in some instances, largely) driven by factors other than basic hunger (i.e. “I hunger, therefore I eat”).

The point here is that, individual’ taste’s, culture, habits, and environment etc, play a pivotal role in our food choices, and by extension, the current food-related epidemic (obesity, heart disease, etc) we are facing at both the local and national level. First, let’s revisit the basics of why we need to eat at all. We need to eat and drink (water, at the most fundamental) to live; food equals fuel for the daily life-sustaining functions of the body at the chemical, cellular, and systemic levels.

After that, there is no physical reason (technically speaking) why we need to eat other than to sustain life. What I’m driving at here is that, outside of eating to keep the body operating at an optimum level ( regardless of age, for instance) there is no real reason to eat anything beyond what is necessary for maintaining a “healthy body”. So why do we do what we do? Why are we so unhealthy in terms of what we eat and how that translates into our current health issues? While I don’t claim to hold all the answers to what will arguably, require complex solutions (I’ll leave that in the capable hands of academic researchers), I do believe that an informed public is one that is healthy and empowered.

Case in point, big agribusiness and the packaged food industry argue that it is “expensive” and “unsustainable” to buy local and organic food items; that there is no “real” difference (in terms of nutritional content or quality) between organic produce and conventionally grown produce. Additionally, they often point to “research” that supports their claims. However, there is an increasing body of unbiased research that not only counters these claims but also exposes a number of the myths about the benefits of consuming organic produce vs. conventionally grown produce, food additives (i.e. dyes in processed foods, etc) and so forth.

As an avid food lover and someone who wants to know what’s in my food, the fact remains that it is in my best interest (as well as the interest of my family, community and environment) that I educate myself and others about the food production system. Why? Food is life and we live in an age where unsustainable and unhealthy industrial as well as food production systems have taken a toll on both our health and environment. Furthermore, if we expect to have a habitable planet in the future, we need to demand much more of ourselves and the industries we choose to engage in. So what does that all mean? In simple terms, it is impossible to make the necessary changes for better human and environmental health, if we are ignorant of both the processes and or mechanisms that negatively affect us.

With regards to the waistline fixation? I believe it is a distraction away from the real issues surrounding our health; a symptom of a problem that is more complex than we as individuals (especially women) or a nation, are willing to address. Our health system ranks at the bottom amongst industrialized nations, in addition to the fact that  segments of government that are responsible for ensuring public health, safety, and our food production systems, are grossly underfunded (and remain under attack from industry-backed legislators, etc). Unfortunately that’s not where the problem ends.  Misinformation and miseducation is wide-spread in mainstream media with “infotainment” rather than “information” being served to the public on a daily basis.

If for no other reason than protecting our very lives and the lives of our loved ones, community and environment, “we” must become educated and active when it comes to our health and wellness. A crash diet, shopping at Whole Foods, etc, is not going to get the job done, nor will fixating on someone else’s perceptions of beauty help women and girls develop a healthy self-image.

I’ve literally lost count of the number of fitness gadgets, weight-loss shakes, and other helpful whatcha-ma-call-its,  circulating on the market. Most of these gadgets  are far more successful at parting you from your money, than providing you with any real long-term success. While the public has a role to play (self-advocacy, personal research, etc)  regarding its health care, the current dynamics and recycling of misinformation does not favor the general public. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we must be willing and committed to engaging in our food production systems (i.e. getting educated about where our food comes from, what’s in it, or what’s been added to it, etc) as well as playing an active role in changing the policies that shape both our healthcare and food production systems.

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Getting it right, for YOU!

I’ve since arrived at the conclusion that when it comes to weight loss, fitness, and over all toning and conditioning, every woman’s body responds differently. I’m always amazed at all the lies and downright hurtful gimmicks aimed at women! Dang IT! We women seem to be the targets of a lot of negative media and social attacks! Part of it stems from the larger problems within our society that are currently being stirred up and played out on the  socio-political stage.

Given all the shifting undercurrents we are being subjected to as well as marketing aimed at all of our insecurities, it’s no wonder that women across the board are more stressed, overwhelmed and feeling pressured to not just fit every role created for us, but to also live up to standards that have little or no basis in reality! Don’t even mention those that are being forced upon us by segments of society that seek to strip women of all the socio-political gains we have fought for over the years. Am I pissed and ticked off? Duh!! Yes! WHY  you might ask? Well it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that “THIS” whole “THANG” (forced social, political, and gender roles) has to do with power and “WHO” gets to wield it over some one else.

It’s unfortunate that we still still live in a world and society where there are those among us who seek to subjugate, control and dictate to other human beings simply because “they” will it to be so. I’m on a rant today because we WOMEN are still forced to deal with this crap in the 21st century while the other segment of the population glibly marches on with their “special” privileges. NOW, with that context nailed down, add to the mix an unhealthy body image, a skewed relationship with food, etc-EXACTLY! A life out of balance and on that hamster wheel going nowhere! 

The most obvious signs of imbalance for us women tends to be an unhealthy image of our bodies (or ourselves in general), weight gain, insomnia, and so forth. How do get off that crazy train? STOP! Do some real soul-searching and then, make a DECISION, get a PLAN, and then, take ACTION! I never said it would be easy, but you’ve got to come to the realization that YOU are WORTH IT! Why we women struggle with self-worth is NOT a hard thing to figure out when you look around the media and society in general. Hmm, I never saw myself as the proverbial feminist before but if that means, NO more trying to please everyone, NO more trying to fit some one else’s ridiculous image of the ideal woman (i.e. shape, color, size, personality, behavior, etc), and DEFINITELY  NO more “trying” to dictate my biology, THEN F***KING SIGN ME THE HELL UP!!

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, “back to the regular programming”, ha-ha! Bottom line, we women need to stop beating up ourselves about what we see in the mirror or how others perceive us, and just focus on our individual truths, places that need growth (and do what needs to be done to get there), realize that we need to put our health and fitness at the top of our own lists (because if you’re unhealthy there is nothing you can do for anyone else if you’re dead!), and engage in those things that will bring BALANCE and FULFILLMENT to our lives. Now, that IS my “WHY” when people ask me about why I do what I do, but the real question is, WHAT’S YOUR’S? ARE YOU finally FED UP and sick and tired of being sick and tired??

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picking up daisies…

picking up daisies…

So ONCE again I’m reminded why I need to be grateful to be alive AND on the pathway to good health and living life to the fullest! As I’ve mentioned before, I work in healthcare and I’m currently trying to finish my graduate program in this field; that aside, my past has created in me a passion for wellness and that of everyone around me 🙂 I don’t like to dwell on personal loss or tragedies, BUT when it comes to remembering how far I’ve come I can’t brush it aside. Today I met a someone today who made me THANKFUL to God that I’m on track to being the healthiest I’ve ever been AND MY OWN business to boot!! Woot, Woot! Boomsies!! As I think about this woman I met earlier today, I was nearly in tears (she was soo emotional and in tears) over the fact that today, April 17th 2016 marks the last day of chemo for her. Oh my good GOD, HOW do you respond to that? All I could do was say a prayer for her and leave her room before I started to cry my eyes out too because some years ago, my mom lost her battle with cancer and that still tears me up inside when I think about her 😦

I’m still maddened and passionate about women’s health and access to health in a system where healthcare (the best treatments, trials, etc) are accessible mainly to the wealthy and or privileged! You can argue that we ALL have healthcare here in the U.S. BUT I SAY, THE QUALITY of THAT HEALTHCARE is just as IMPORTANT as the QUALITY  of said healthcare. I say this because although we had health insurance IT FAILED my mom and ultimately contributed to her loosing the battle with cancer. Until WE become civilized enough to REALIZE that quality healthcare is a RIGHT and NOT A PRIVILEDGE , we ALL will experince unnecessary loss and quality of life.

That’s not to say that we as individuals do not bare responsibility for own health, WE DO, but it also must be equally accessible to ALL who need it! Which brings me back to this woman I met earlier today. Why was she soo emotional and WHY was I almost as emotional as she? It’s because WE BOTH recognized the personal and financial costs associated with battling such a deadly disease, and not only that, to come out relatively unscathed (financially speaking; as in not out on the streets because you lost your life’s savings trying to cover the costs of co-pays and other bills,etc).

THIS IS ONE of the main reasons I decided to change my life, my health, and my professional focus to fitness and mind-body wellness! As an old adage states “Prevention is better than cure” and “medicine after death, is the worst tragedy”. THIS IS WHAT MATTERS TO ME: PEOPLE, THEIR HEALTH, AND QUALITY OF LIFE!!! What a calling and a personal and passionate call to action people; and THIS is where YOU find ME. It’s hard yet rewarding, BUT what an AWESOME way to live life!!

I’m a team Beachbody coach, and this is my story….journeying to fitness, health, and renewed sense of purpose!! 🙂 🙂

 

P.s. here’s my day at the beach contemplating my place in the universe, he hehe…LIVE WELL!!
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Wow, Women’s health talk right now!

Wow, Women’s health talk right now!

I was just watching the news (hmm mainstream media actually had some intelligent info for a change, ha ha ha ) and the talk was about PCOS  (polycystic ovarian syndrome ; primarily how it affects fertility and the big shocker (to me, I did not know this) it’s connection to diabetes.  Wow,  did YOU  know it’s also both a risk factor AND cause of diabetes?! Shut the front door!

Seriously,  the is huge for me because if have people close to me who are dealing or have dealt with fertility  issues  (some a happy ending, while others not so much ). Although I thought it was informative it was also a downer and drove home the fact that OUR HEALTH CARE system REALLY needs to be UNIVERSAL and not optional! The costs of IVF,      and some of the other tests alone, can easily sink you debt to the point of bankruptcy!  This is freaking crazy in a day and age when SOO many other countries in the world are SMART (and have far fewer politicians who’ve been bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical and insurance industries *cough*) enough to get a clue!

Anyway! The point is,  if you’ve got this condition, it’s  best to either freeze your eggs (even if you don’t have PCOS this is a good idea because your fertility numbers decrease outside of your 20’s), check your AMH levels (simple hormone check that’s a good fertility  indicator), etc.

Yeah, yeah I get it! No pressure right?! Riiight! Seriously,  no wonder women are nutty when it comes to this topic! We’ve got a health system working against us (for the average middle class family, this is a lot of debt) and on the other, seemingly biology is not on our side either  😦
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