Friday, February 19, 2010

Everything... for a time, is a trend, even wellness

Wellness, in all its forms, comes and goes in trendy waves. Fad diets, fad workouts, fad looks, etc. just keep rollin' in until the next thing that "looks good" comes along and people once again jump on the bandwagon, ditch their old program (that they probably weren't making gains on anyway) and become part of the trend. I'm not going to mention specific programs, people, DVDs or diets that have come out recently but, I'm quite certain that it's safe to say that what ALL of these new "wellness" trends have in common is that they're simply that; another trend that's appealing for the moment but won't last forever. I myself, am an advocate of a paleolithic way of eating. A trend? Absolutely! But, I said I'm an advocate, not necessarily a follower. In real basic terms here, the paleolithic diet is simply eating the way people (or cavemen, also known as the caveman diet) used to eat during the Paleolithic era. As far as the basics or foundation of the diet are concerned, there really is no room for argument. The diet calls for consuming mostly fruits and vegetables, meats (both lean and fat), nuts, seeds, and berries. I think we all can agree that we (Americans and the rest of Western Civilization) need to consume more fruits and vegetables as opposed to refined carbohydrates and the various other loads of processed "food-like substances" that we consume on a daily basis. I won't go in to detail about the consumption of meat (high fat vs lean) or dairy and grains and such. There's too much controversy in that arena and it would take way too long for me to explain thoroughly. Perhaps for another day.

Along with the paleo way of eating has come a paleo way of moving; a sort of "caveman style of fitness" if you will. Again, personally, I think it's great and yes I'm an advocate. The problem with the mentality of most of the people that embark on these trendy new styles of eating and/or moving is that they eventually begin to "commercialize or institutionalize" these new concepts and in a sense, take away from the original idea of the concept. Mark Sisson of discusses in his book, The Primal Blueprint, that people should lift heavy once a week and sprint once in a while and I wholeheartedly agree. Well, it's only a matter of time before these trendy folks are back in the gym (a commercial institution) lifting for a prescribed amount of sets and reps or are trying to get their "sprint on" on the treadmill or an exercise bike. But hey, we live in modern times and this is modern stuff here! But... what I find so comical is that after all of these years of all of these American/Western civilization trends that have come and gone, whether it be fad diets or fad workouts, outside exercise or "globo-gym" exercise, Americans throw all their hard earned money away looking for the answers to wellness and longevity ye are still fatter, more disease-ridden and in overall poorer health than most other nations in the world. I've read numerous books, articles, studies, research papers, etc., etc,. on said subject matter and with all of the information out there it still amazes me that we still cannot get it right.

One book I've read that did strike a cord with me, though not immediately, was the Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. In short, this book was about wellness fundamentals but not in the sense that you're probably thinking. The author goes into great detail about five nations or regions where people (on average) live very long, productive lives. Notice the word PRODUCTIVE. The people he describes (and interviews) are mainly centenarians, living greater than 100 years. All of the people that are interviewed in the book are extremely active and energetic unlike most senior citizens in the Western world which when they retire at the age of 60 (give or take a few years), it's not too long after that they develop various diseases, cancers or a host of other medical problems and eventually check into a nursing home getting around mostly with the use of a wheelchair or at best with the use of a cane or walker. This is a sad truth. But why is it the truth? Again, you would think that with all of this advanced technology and all of these guidelines set forth by all the experts and so-called gurus in our country we'd be extremely healthy and fit and living well into a ripe old age with the vitality of the people that I described above. For us, this is simply not so.

So what, you ask is the answer? I don't know, I'm only 30 years of age and my wisdom and experience with longevity is obviously limited as I only know what has worked for me and what hasn't over the past 20 or so years I've been involved in athletics and fitness. Read the book if you think that will help. But, as I mentioned above, eating things like fruits and vegetables (MORE OF THEM) should really be a no-brainer by now. Did these people of such longevity eat copious amounts of fruits and vegetables? You bet. Did they deadlift and squat and lift weights all day long or for hours a day and then do cardio immediately following? I think not. This is a Western idea. The four attributes that I took from the book and with the advanced research that I've done on my own that I found these different people from these completely different backgrounds have in common is that 1) they ate real, whole, unprocessed foods, 2) they were simply active, but very active, lots of walking, gardening, just moving around and not being sedentary, 3) they were close with their families and, 4) they had a great deal of faith... in something.

I could continue to write on this subject matter for days on end but obviously won't. Implementing the fundamentals of wellness doesn't and shouldn't have to be hard. Eat good, healthy real food and not crap; YOU KNOW WHAT CRAP FOOD IS!, be active; play sports you enjoy, walk your dog, play with your children, DO SOMETHING EVERYDAY TO MAKE YOURSELF MOVE!; hang out with your family, talk to your kids, cook dinner with your spouse, call your parents, yada, yada, yada, and finally, believe in something bigger and more important than yourself. Hey, whether you believe in religion, evolution or whatever, just realize that there was something out there that created you and caused you to be here, so be thankful and have faith. Implementing such lifestyle changes or, as I like to call them, wellness fundamentals, will reduce stress, make you a happier person and lead to a life full of vigor and longevity.

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