Why won’t we change for the better?
I’ve had a thought in my head pretty much all day today. So much so that I had lousy workout. Yes, Eric the Personal Trainer “mailed in” a workout. My mind wouldn’t stop thinking about it, no matter how loud I turned my music up. The thought is “how did we as a society become so food reward based? How is it that our generation has more information at our finger tips than any other generation combined yet we continually fail to take action? What stops people dead (figuratively and realistically speaking) in their tracks when it comes to taking action about their health?
My daughter who is 6 years old and in Kindergarten this year has been on a mission to have a green light every day of the year. Her school uses a green, yellow, red light behavior chart. Each day the teacher will tell them to color in their chart one of the 3 colors depending on how well the child did that day. This mission started out as a challenge because her and her best friend from pre-school are in the same class and seated at the same table. I bet my daughter to not get moved in the first 2 weeks or I’d pay her $5. My original goal was to just get her use to listening and obeying the new teacher and hopefully help set her up for a successful year.
Well two weeks went by and I had to pay up. Then a bigger challenge got set, to stay on green for the ENTIRE year. If she accomplished this task she’d get a new bicycle. Well it is February and so far she’s made green every day. So you may be asking what does this have to do with the food based reward. Well the school system rewards kids free McDonalds if the students stay on green for an entire month. Well its February so that means my daughter has been rewarded 5 months in a row a free meal.
What are we teaching our kids? That if you do what you are supposed to do you get food. You are rewarded with a product s that make you feel sick, increase your cholesterol, increase your blood pressure, lower your body’s ability to fight disease. I’m not bashing McDonalds per say, but they happen to be the food of choice in our school district, Papa Johns is another. These foods have no nutritional value.
The reward system has no value other than do good on what you are supposed to do and we will reward you with food. How about rewarding the students with their name on a board in the classroom showing that they achieved this monthly challenge (I know for a fact I never would have made it myself). How about rewarding the student with a new pencil or eraser to help in their academic pursuit? How about rewarding the student with getting to check out an extra library book? Reward the student with something that encourages positive behavior and rewards them with in a positive manner that doesn’t have negative repercussions.
If we continue the food based reward system our society will fall deeper into childhood obesity which then turns into adult obesity. We have adults that don’t know how to choose good healthy foods because they were always rewarded with fast food, because it was easy and exciting! Well look at the 25 year old who is on cholesterol medication, blood pressure medication, and is constantly sick because they don’t know how to make proper food choices. In America nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes. Did you know type 2 diabetes is a preventable disease? THAT MEANS WE CAN STOP IT!!!!!! Obesity is on the verge of being considered a disease and not a condition. One in 3 adults is obese!!! One in 5 kids aged 6-19 is obese!!!!! WE CAN STOP OBESITY!!!!! But first we have to start changing our culture of rewarding with food and start taking action for the good of our health.
On a daily basis through Facebook I see friends who struggle with their weight, with sickness and with disease. I obviously hope they know I am a personal trainer and that it is my job to help people get healthy. BUT they won’t ask! It isn’t my place to be like hey you need to eat better you fat ass! NO! I won’t be that guy. But at the same time I ask myself why won’t they ask for help? Why won’t they use this wonderful tool called the internet to get help?
I know a person in their early 50’s who has type 2 diabetes who suffered kidney failure because he didn’t take action to control the diabetes beyond taking a pill. In the time I’ve known him this individual never worked out, never ate healthy. Even when I offered to help, it was, “no we can’t afford your help”. Well now he is spending 4 hours three times a week getting kidney dialysis. My heart aches for him and his family because all of this is preventable. Action was needed long before now. I don’t understand the thought process. Four hours a week of exercise could have prevented the 12 hours a week of being tied to a machine to keep you alive. Would you be willing to give up your 55” tv and satellite TV and iPhone to pay for a gym membership or for a personal trainer twice a month? What is your health worth?
I know a 25 year old who is on Blood pressure, cholesterol, and anxiety meds because of stress. All 3 can be controlled by eating healthy and working out 30 minutes 5 times a week. She continues to be sick and miss work on a regular basis. She is tied to her meds because for some reason it became easier to pop pills than to make good choices when it comes to food and exercise. She’s exclaimed “I want to work out and eat healthy”, but won’t put a plan into action and see that plan through to her success. What is your health worth?
I was recently approached by a 22 year old female because she weighs over 300 lbs and she has a couple of other medical issues. She reached out to me for nutrition advice and when I told her she needed change her lifestyle and how she thought about food. She scheduled bypass surgery two weeks later. I don’t understand! What happened to doctors not looking at the root cause? Is it emotional eating, food sensitivities, or she won’t change her eating behavior? And is it a learned behavior to go to doctors for a “quick” fix. Even though for the surgery to be a success you have to change your view on food and your lifestyle. This could be prevented!
I again don’t understand the thought process of individuals who are smart and intelligent individuals but won’t take action for their own health. I could give more examples, but I think you get the point. What will it take to change our society into rewarding ourselves with something that is uplifting? Take this example: you had a bad day at work, so your solution is to go home get the comfy clothes on and eat a bowl of ice cream or have a few drinks, or go out to eat because it’s faster than cooking. What if you hopped on a treadmill for 30 minutes and walked at a brisk pace? Your stress levels would decrease by more than half; your body would release endorphins that would alter your state of mind making you happy. Your metabolism would be boosted; your immune system would be boosted helping you fight sickness and disease. Just 30 mintues…what if you shut the TV off in the evening and used that 3 hours of a vegetated state and went to the gym instead, played a game of basketball, volleyball? Anything other than sitting on your ass doing absolutely nothing to help your body? I’m not say you can never watch TV again, but if you aren’t at your ideal body weight, percent body fat, size whatever, why are you wasting your time with an “activity” that doesn’t help you achieve your goal? If you are always sick and on medication maybe it’s time to look at what you put in your body on a daily basis instead of just going to the doctor every 6 weeks.
When it comes to dieting and weight loss I know a lot of you have tried…even given it a good effort, but failed. Don’t let failing one, two, or three times stop you! Each time you fail you learn something. Use that new knowledge and keep moving forward. Everyone fails at some point. There is not a single successful person in any facet of life that hasn’t failed, PERIOD.
What will it take to get your moving? Write your goals down. Set an action plan of what you need to do daily to achieve those goals.
NOW GO DO IT!
Personal Trainer for 9 years
B.A. in Health and Fitness
In pursuit of this thing called Fitness for 16 years.
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you”