Monday, April 25, 2011

Getting started when it isn't easy

About halfway through the Welcome and Celebration Rally, I was struck by the
immensity of the Healthy Yuma 2011 goal - not just the milepost goals of 140 tons of weight loss and 3 million miles walked - but the transformational goal of becoming a less addicted community.

At the rally, I talked with several people who had already made successful
transformations – alcoholics who had been sober for years; a healthcare
professional who made it through a major meth relapse; and two women who had each lost over 60 pounds. Two themes emerged: people wanted to share how good it feels to be clean and how deluded they had been under the spell of drugs, junk food, or alcohol.

Not one said that it had been easy, but they all realized that not a day went by
without knowing it was worth it. Besides feeling happier, they found relationships much more satisfying without the uppers, the downers, and the binges.

When asked what had been their “aha” moment, their answers were uniquely their own. However, despite the uniqueness, the conclusions were the same – “First I had to admit I had a problem, and then I needed to realize how much I wanted to change.”

Whether addiction has created major havoc in your life or your current challenge is the butter pecan ice cream in the fridge, positive change comes in the form of a question and a statement. The question to ask is, “What is a skillful action, right now?’ The statement is, “Then that’s what I’ll do.”

Our habits make this difficult, but what I learned from my new friends at the rally -it’s worth it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The meat in the pictures from VegNews

I usually try to stay away from the slings and arrows of the media du jour, but I feel compelled to weigh in on the recent blowup with the pictures at VegNews. Of course, I wish that they had used strictly vegan pictures. However, when compared to the problems arising from eating meat, the infraction seems minor.

What are the important facts to keep in mind?
- The obesogenic properties of meat are key factors making us fat
- The atherogenic properties of meat are major risk factors for heart attacks, stroke, and impotence
- The carcinogenic properties of meat are major risk factors in colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, leukemia and multiple myeloma
- The antibiotics fed to animals cause widespread antibiotic resistance
- The hormones given to animals are ingested with the meat and milk, causing an increased risk in breast cancer and early sexual maturity in girls
- Well over 90% of the 10 billion animals slaughtered annually in the U.S. lived under horrific factory farm conditions
- Animal agriculture is the largest contributor to water pollution
- Animal agriculture produces a staggering 300 tons of untreated animal manure in the U.S. per year, a huge environmental and health issue

The magnitude of these issues and our ability as a society to sweep them under the rug is mind-boggling. Showing pictures of dishes with meat in them next to recipes that have no meat is disingenuous, but the outrage seems overdone. Where is the outrage when photos of burgers are enhanced with shoe polish or mashed potatoes act as stand-ins for ice cream that doesn't melt on camera? (If anyone knows the answer to this dichotomy, please let me know.)

For over a decade VegNews has promoted an appealing lifestyle with a conscience that is compatible with healthier lives and a healthier planet. On balance, major kudos to them! I for one will remain a loyal subscriber.

Expressly yours,

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The guaranteed “apple a day” diet

A medium sized apple has only 95 calories and is loaded with restorative
phytonutrients. A recent European study found that those eating more than an apple
a day cut their risk of colon cancer in half. Not only that, an apple can teach us how
to better understand our hunger cues.

Most of us have had the experience of digging into a high calorie snack even though
we weren’t hungry. The high fat, high salt, and high sugar stuff goes down easy.
Since junk food bypasses our satiety cues, we keep on eating - whether we are
hungry or not.

Unlike junk food, an apple triggers natural hunger awareness:

* First, if you aren’t hungry, an apple doesn’t sound so good. Do you think food
scientists are designing products that someone eats only when they’re hungry?”

* However, if you are hungry, an apple sounds great.

*And then, when eating an apple, the mix of fiber and nutrients triggers our satiety
mechanism so that even after just 100 calories, we feel fuller.

An apple can also tell you how tuned-in you are to your appetite system. If an apple
never sounds good, the chances are you aren’t tuned in at all, because your system
has crashed from an addiction to fat, sugar, and salt.

So how does the apple diet work? Bring an apple to work and place it on your desk.
If you have an urge for one of the donuts in the break room, look at your apple and
ask, “Am I hungry, or not? If not, skip the donut. If you are, eat the apple.”

Friday, April 1, 2011

Remembering a higher purpose

Recently I was a guest speaker at the Church of Spiritual Living. At the
last minute, I was asked to address the children before they left the service
for Sunday school. I was still looking for what to say as their curious eyes
peered up at me in the front of the sanctuary.

“I have a very serious matter to talk about with you today. On behalf of all
the adults here, I am asking for your forgiveness. I would like you to forgive
us for contributing to a world which encourages children to become obese.”

I am not sure who was more surprised by my words, the children or me.
They became quite still, intently pondering my request.

After a few moments of silence, I went on. “ By the compassion I see in
your eyes, it is clear that you have forgiven us. Thank you.” It was a magic
moment as the children realized their true feelings had been understood.
In the few minutes left, the children eagerly expressed their rather mature
understanding of forgiveness.

The children energized and inspired the congregation that day. The moment
reminded us that we are indeed responsible for the culture that shapes our
children’ s lives. This can happen in so many ways. Every time one passes
up a donut and instead chooses an apple, one not only helps your own
health, but the health of the community.

Contemplating how our choices affect everyone around us adds purpose and
gives added meaning to our lives. Realizing this also gives us the gumption-
to do the right thing.

If you want to be successful in making better choices, remind yourself every
day that your positive actions benefits everyone.