I put some of this in my BeginnerTriathlete blog and it got A LOT of agreement...granted, that is a site full of triathletes. So, I got HUGELY irritated at two issues I saw on TV, one yesterday, and one this morning. Yesterday I was getting on my bike trainer to ride cause it was raining outside. I turned on the TV to find something to watch while I pedaled away. Well, what was on as soon as I turned it on, the Rachel Ray show with Whoopi Goldberg as the guest. They were discussing the concept of a "Fat Tax" where workers must pay more their health coverage if they are obese. They hardly spent any time on it, and I'm not going to discuss the fat tax here, BUT, I found some of the comments of the two HUGELY ignorant, inaccurate. Watch it for yourself HERE, but the highlights that caught me to just lose it were these comments:
"Sometimes if people are eating the wrong food it's cause they don't have the money to buy the right ones." Whoopi Goldberg
"People don't understand that obesity is sometimes the only option for people...they can't afford broccoli and fresh fruits and vegetables. Government should be spending time to make good food more affordable for all of us." Rachel Ray
Interestingly enough, I was headed to the grocery store that afternoon, and I checked out the costs of some of the veggies and fruits, to include fresh, frozen, dried, and canned. I looked at the prices of canned beans, dried pasta, rices, and chicken (skinless). I then checked out the things like frozen pizza, potato chips, cupcakes, ice cream, store bought cookies, pre-made "meals" (frozen boxes and bags) and fruit snacks. GUESS WHAT FOLKS, you get MORE for your money when you buy the HEALTHY STUFF...truly you do. You forgo the twinkies, and you can get a whole 2lbs of bananas. You leave the frozen pizza and whip up some chicken, beans, and rice or some whole grain pasta and veggies, and you get more. The idea that "obesity" is the "only option" is so bogus, disgusting, and a cop out that I would love to debate Rachel Ray in person on it. The American Obesity Epidemic is caused because Americans are addicted to refined foods and fast food. They are more willing to wait in a 1/2 hour long fast food line than take the 10 minutes needed to cut up some veggies, put 'em on a tray and broil them for all of 10 minutes till they are ready to eat. The pure liquid, sugar calories that adults and kids pour into their bodies in the form of soft drinks and "gourmet" coffee are making them fat and more addicted to refined sugar. The trans fat and high calorie meals that the fast-food industry eagerly hands over for more cash than what it would cost for one to make something healthy themselves is clogging America's arteries, causing heart attacks, causing Type II adult-onset diabetes in adults and children alike, and leaves people winded doing just the simple chores of life. LAZINESS and lack of SELF-DISCIPLINE, not lack of money, is, in my opinion, the root of the American obesity problem. Americans have choices...and, as the Crusader in Indiana Jones and the Search for the Holy Grail said to the bad guy who picked the ornate and flashy grail from which to drink, "You chose...poorly" and death followed. Luckily for him, his death was quick. It won't be for those that do not choose to eat healthy and exercise.
Second part of the rant. This morning I saw this article featured on FOX News about how studies have shown that obese 10-year olds have the arteries of a 45-year old and how they are showing signs of pre-mature aging. It was such a sad article....and in its closing the author writes "The time has come to seriously deal with the issue of childhood obesity and physical inactivity on a governmental and parental level." I agree...at least at the parental level (not a big fan of growing governmental regulation in everything). It must be addressed. What got me MAD was that the lady discussing it with the Fox News reporter, and not mentioned in the article, was that the answer was prescription DRUGS...she even said that we're seeing that "diet and exercise" are not enough. Did she quote a study for that?? NO. Come on, let's look at history...before we knew about all of the evils of this that or the other (and so much of it didn't even exist), kids weren't stuck just in front of the TV and video games. Competitive sports were encouraged, even if a kid lost--no "self-esteem" or "PC" issues (maybe it explains why the new generation of kids are more "depressed" as they get older--they never lost, then they meet the real world and found out that losing is part of it). Kids played kick the can, "Cowboys and Indians," and pickup basketball, and football. Now they do the same thing, don't they? Sure...just with a Wii...
I think, of all the aspects of the obesity epidemic, the children is the most sad and infuriating. I see children all the time that are 10 or under and weight more than I do. They waddle when they walk, and most of the time they're sucking down a coke or Mom and Dad are handing them a burger. Did you know that a McDonald's Happy Meal will not mold or be eaten by bugs if left for, oh, 2-3 years? It looks exactly the same--just hard...nothing touches it...how do I know. My Mom has one she uses as an example for health fairs she does and in promotion for a healthy way to get your full day's worth of NATURAL vitamins (Juice Plus+, <--click for more info). That Happy Meal she has still "looks" happy--hasn't changed AT ALL, minus hard. And she lives in Houston, if it's going to mold, it will mold there, if it's going to get bugs, it'll get bugs there. My brother left some food in his closet in High School and was invaded by THOUSANDS if not MILLIONS of fruit flies or ants...but did they touch the open McDonald's bag...not a chance. And people eat that? They feed it to their kids? If nature won't touch it, chances are, we probably shouldn't. Parents are fully responsible for setting their kids up for success in the food realm. Drugs are NOT the answer for normal kids...only for real diseases that were NOT brought on by the obesity in the first place. A healthy diet and regular exercise will do the trick! Play sports, serve up vegetables in a tasty, but fun way (and covered in cheese doesn't equal "fun" it equals "FAT"). It is terrible that predictions say that many parents will outlive their children because their children are just plain obese. Give the kids a chance, teach them what right looks like, and if later on in life they chose to be a couch potato and eat themselves to death, you did what you could to prevent it...but for right now, set the right example...they may not like you know, but their "self esteem" is going to be better when they can run around and be the star, not waddle around. "Instant" gratification in thinking that we can truly HAVE our cake and EAT it too by maintaining a poor diet, little exercise, and then just pop a pill or have cosmetic surgery done and be fine...not only is this erroneous, it doesn't go at the heart of the issue--one must choose to be healthy.
Health comes in the form of WHOLE food, veggies, fruits, whole grains, and lean meat. It means not touching fried food, ignoring the donut at church, drinking water instead of sodas, and taking some time to buy fresh and cook fresh. I'm single, I'm busy, but I eat healthy, homemade meals for virtually every meal of my day. When my peers are headed to the closest Mexican food restaurant, I'm having a healthy sandwich or wrap, an apple, and some carrots with about 32ozs of water. Takes some planning, but I save MUCH more time by not going out, not to mention money. A healthy life comes by healthy choices and self-discipline...but it also means a long life with fewer boundaries and limits! I WANT to be that 75 year old, spunky old woman running across the finish line at a triathlon or a marathon...I won't be the fastest, but I will be healthy enough to do it and finish smiling. Take that journey with me. Eat healthy, have the sweets in moderation, and structure good solid aerobic and muscular strength exercises within your schedule. If I can train for triathlons, and soon an Ironman, with the job I have--most of you can go for a few mile walk or knock out some push-ups and sit-ups. It's a choice. In the end, it's your choices that matter--not the government regulating you from yourself. . Just remember, choose wisely...sometimes the right "grail" is the most plain and humble, but with it comes long life! (corny analogy, but I like it!) Choose to live healthy and long, or choose to eat yourself to death.