Sunday, August 16, 2009

Choices that Kill Us

I have a friend who always likes to take something hard or difficult and pose it as "think of it as a choice - you can either do this, or that - it's your choice". She's one of those eternal optimists...gotta love her! But the way she thinks is good, and frankly, right on the money. When we feel stuck with a problem or in a tight spot, we typically do have a choice, and that choice determines the outcome.

As it relates to our general health, we definitely have a choice. In fact, I'm a firm believer that we choose our destiny; we live with our choices every day; and, we MUST own those choices.

I recently spent some time in a place where I was surrounded by people who, for many years, have made poor choices related to their health, and continue to make those same choices to this day. Their subsequent poor health is now outwardly apparent, and continues to worsen. The choice to be sedentary has resulted in sarcopenia which is evident by their inability to ambulate for any extended period of time, repetitive surgeries to repair small tendon tears or "flush out" arthritic joints, and a general lack of energy. The choice to consume highly refined and processed carbohydrates, saturated and man-made fats, and very little quality protein has invited Metabolic Syndrome to pitch camp and settle in...and over the past 10 years, full blown obesity, diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and I'm certain a few other lifestyle-related diseases are now permanent residents with solid foundations and flowing American Flags waiving in the wind in the front yard. They would tell you "yes, I choose to eat this way because I want to", and they would also tell you that they already know the definition of healthy or clean eating (excuse me while I cough out loud to cover up my sputtering of "bullshit").

Unfortunately they are the norm versus the exception when it comes to Americans' with lifestyle-related health problems. They make the choices and are living with the consequences, but will try to find blame everywhere but within themselves. They will blame their medication for not working correctly (and then the cost of that will come up, undoubtedly). They will blame their hectic schedule for their inability to be active or eat right. They will even try to find a distant relative who was obese, had high...anything, so that they can claim "genetics" for their problems - all the while being arrogantly ignorant to their own part in this mess. And if challenged about their choices, their lack of concern or air of exaggerated self-opinion will quickly shut down the questioner, as he/she thinks to him/herself "so how's that workin' for ya?".

I'm truly saddened by the "ignorant arrogance" and delusions that they are not directly responsible for their health, especially when the poor choices are so blatant. I'm not speaking of the childhood cancers or neurological disorders...NO! I'm talking about the most common ailments among Americans today such as obesity, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, atherosclerosis, lung cancer, osteoporosis, stroke, depression...shall I go on? I admit, I am sometimes ashamed with how our society has become a society of lazy, resourceless, illogical homosapiens who feel entitled and deserving of so many things without the desire or will to work for what they want. These days, if it doesn't come easy, or in the form a magic pill or potion, we're no longer interested.

I frankly appreciate the effort I put into my training, as I know I'm getting stronger, fitter, more powerful, faster and/or more flexible as a result of each effort. I appreciate the time it takes to read labels and plan meals so that there is a good balance between energy intake and expenditure. I appreciate the flavor of real, whole, natural food...and am still trying to spot that Cheetos Tree or field of white bread growing along the roadside. I appreciate the feeling from positive vibes and keeping a positive open mind; and I see the results of negativity and those who can only find blame.

I'm not sure what the answer is to our nation's self-created health crisis. People still smoke, although you'll not find one person who can prove that it's not detrimental to both the smoker and those around him/her.

Perhaps we can each set a goal to try to positively influence one person - just one - related to healthy living, if by nothing else but our behaviors and leading by example. But beware - finding a person willing to change, invest, work - that's the hard part!

No sole point here...if you can't tell, just a platform to vent express disbelief in people's poor choices...and to remove all of that negativity and, well, I guess sorrow is right word, from my head so that I can move on.

It's very difficult to watch people literally kill themselves with the choices they make - and even worse when they're so defensive of their choices.