Fitness Minutes: (1,267)
48 8/14/13 5:27 P
When I went to Germany recently, I ate what my hosts ate and went where they went. We did spend a good deal of time driving, because we were out in the country - but we were also taking long hikes, rock-hopping, and visiting the pool regularly.
I ate cheese and butter sandwiches, all the pasta and chocolate that came in my sight, and ice cream nearly every day, and didn't gain an ounce.
Activity is key. Think about a "country breakfast" - it was invented to fuel farm work. I think the sedentary problem may even be bigger than the artificial, processed food problem. In a way they may be hand-in-hand: valuing efficiency over effort.
When I was in Denmark, I don't think I saw anyone with a body mass index above the healthy range. In downtown Copenhagen, it was difficult to find parking. Not for the cars, but for the bicycles. There were thousands of bikes parked in the square. And there must have been 10 fruit and vegetable markets for every fast food joint.
Can we create a culture in the United States where there is a critical mass of people who take care of their bodies, by eating healthy foods and getting where they are going by walking/biking/public transit? Can we create demand for healthy, local produce and safe places to walk or ride bikes? Or are we doomed to earn the predictable results of our culture of self-indulgence?
Let's face it, America is fat. We eat fat, we live fat, we are fat. We're nearly always the fattest. It's a life style choice. Nearly anywhere else you go, you'll be surrounded by different ways of life that are healthier in one way or another. In most other cultures, the food is closer to the ground. What? Like on the floor? No. I mean less processed, closer to the earth, coming directly from animals and plants that are local. Not only is our food consumption lazy and unhealthy, so is our transporation consumption. Many other places indulge in walking, biking, and public transport. Don't rent a car unless you're going out on the country side, walk your way around your vacation, and experience the freedom of "parking" whereever your butt hits the ground.
So what happens when suddenly you're served by your gracious host a plate of meat you don't recognize covered with local fatty cheese sauce? Maybe that meal has more calories than your lean cuisine, but more than likely if you get around local style you're earning the indulgence for the day.
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