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Friday, November 15, 2013

The great paradox

Your feet can take you places... if only you let them.

It hits me more and more often. The great paradox of North American ways.

We are "supposed to" be very slim - and ideally very lean too - as any North American media will tell you. Need I say the North American media is everywhere?

... all the while following the North American way of life, which includes:

  • eating whatever you want in whatever quantities you want, whenever you want;
  • centering celebrations and most of your social life around food (and we're not talking green salads here);
  • patronizing restaurant chains, including fast-food and doughnut joints and coffee shops (sugar and cream, please!), on a regular basis;
  • unwinding with alcohol;
  • taking your car to any and all destinations, even within a kilometer;
  • working full-time, mostly in a seated position;
  • spending most of your free time in front of the TV or another screen, e.g. the computer, tablet, smart phone, etc.;
  • exercising "a little bit" at best;
  • having kids.

Well, in case you hadn't noticed...

Those two things are NOT compatible! Having a thin, "media-style" body while leading that kind of life is an impossibility.

The only way people remain slim and lean, especially past their twenties and after having kids, is either by

  • smoking (which I DO NOT recommend);
  • being sick: most very thin adults I know, if not a smoker nor a fitness/nutrition fanatic, have a disease that explains their small waistline. Please don't assume someone is healthy unless they tell you; health issues are more common than we think. In this case, I'm thinking Celiac Disease, Crohn's Disease, Hypoglycemia or any other condition that has an impact on the digestive system;
  • becoming a fitness/nutrition fanatic. I am using the term "fanatic" on purpose because the "healthy lifestyle" that some of us adopt is indeed interpreted by many as "extreme". I beg to disagree, as we will see in a moment.

Yes, most people think it's "extreme" to eat wholesome foods and no (or very little) junk. I have heard someone comment, upon seeing a table covered with fresh fruit, veggies and seeds/nuts, that there was "no human food there, just bird food".

Well, I have news for you: start eating that "bird food" on a regular basis, cut down on the rest, and you will see your life take a whole new turn, for the best. I PROMISE.

Drizzle a little bit of olive oil, and that's a meal.
I have 6 similar meals a day. With water, no dessert. I used to think it was spartan. Not anymore.
I have learned to appreciate the feeling of lightness in my stomach after eating smaller portions.
And no, I'm not hungry. I used to think I was. It was an illusion.
Another need wanted to be filled. Not hunger.

Most people think plain water isn't very palatable. Yet downing a glass of water every 2 hours or so, avoiding other types of drinks, can significantly increase your physical and mental well-being. Who would have thought?

Most people think it's extreme to get up early to workout, or to use your lunch break or evenings to exercise. Yet it's the only way to get it done. And it has to be done. The body was made to move, and if you allow it to move daily, it will payback in a hundredfold!

Most people think it's unusual, or weird, to not take your wheels everywhere. An example: from my place to my workplace, it's a 15-minute walk. And so I walk to work, rain or shine, sun or snow, whatever the weather. It's refreshing, it's calming, it's my alone time with myself to notice nature while taking in some oxygen. I love it. Yet every single time someone realizes I walk there instead of talking my car like everybody else, they invariably have a jaw drop, look at me with a bewildered look on their face, and say "You walk?!?!?!" They seem to think I'm the latest weirdo in town.

Okay, I do know a couple of lean thirty-something people who have kids, who do not smoke, who aren't sick and who are not fitness/nutrition fanatics. But they are few and far between. And even if they are no fanatics, they do have an "abnormally" small appetite, and/or they do not tolerate food or alcohol excesses very well (I wish I knew their secret).

But for most of us who can easily eat half a dozen doughnuts or down half a dozen beers without feeling much discomfort, it ain't so easy! And even if we sometimes do end up feeling yuck, resisting temptation can be quite a challenge. I know I love my chocolate ice cream and glass of wine (not together though).

I certainly feel like I'm going against the current with the way I eat and the way I exercise; it might not be extreme, but it certainly isn't mainstream. Yet it's the only way I can stay fit. I don't care so much if I look like what the media throws at us, but I do like the fit of my clothes. More importantly, I sincerely feel that my "extreme" way of life is what has protected me against our modern age's predicaments: I do NOT suffer from either anxiety, depression, insomnia, high stress, low energy, low libido, name it. I have in the past, when I was leading a "normal" life. I do NOT long to go back to that life. Food for thought...

To me, the choice is easy: "extreme lifestyle" all the way! Even if it means getting up at 5 to go to the gym!

It's fun, too! Here's a sample of the music I heard at the gym this morning:

Please share your thoughts!


  1. You know what, you're right. One can't eat doughnuts and sit in front of the TV and be slim and fit and healthy. Our problem is we think we can. Another entitlement issue. We want the results without putting in the effort.

    1. You said it well, Marin! Thank you for commenting.

  2. Oh - the driving everywhere. I have parked in a parking lot and walked to different shops in the same area and you should see the looks I get - and I'm usually the only one who will do it!!

    1. I get the looks too when I do all my errands in one strip mall without moving my car once.

  3. I got my only genius moment, the best idea of my career, walking the 20 min from home to work...

    1. Hmmm... I got to start considering making my walk a little bit longer then, if 20 minutes is what it takes to come up with genius ideas! ;-)

  4. Many of us adults lose our ability to play -- and that's a killer. Instead of calling something exercise, let's call it "play!" It's fun, it's restorative, it smooths out life's rough edges. It gives us energy which we then can use to be more conscious of how we eat and what we eat. Cooking, too, is play, if you want it to be.

    1. Good reminder, Tara!

      I have yet to find fun in cooking though. :-)

  5. you are absolutely right...people look think I am crazy when they look at my meal...I have had many people tell me I am not living life just because I choose not to eat junk, some of them actually pity me :D
    then there are some who think I am crazy because I stick to my workouts as planned and if something comes up I still make my workouts a priority.I try not to pay attention and sometimes challenge them to live like me for a week, nobody lasts ;)

    1. The thing about this is that you don't know what you're missing until you try the healthy lifestyle. Once you've tried it, you KNOW, and you don't want to ever go back! Thanks Tanvee for commenting! :-)

  6. Hi there! I am new on your blog, I agree with you on this. I think I am just about discovering the light feeling you talk about, and am learning the difference between over full tummy and satiated belly :)

    1. I'm very happy for you that you are making the difference between full and satiated! :-) Thank you for coming by.

  7. Hi,
    It's a great idea to eat less in each meal.Eat more frequently.Bird feed, as you call it ,is genuinely good for health.Frequent meals lend themselves to increasing DIT (diet induces thermogenesis).This revvs up your metabolism,and reduces your fat content,automatically.
    Want to reduce more?well have a cup of hot water after every meal.It,s an ayurvedic remedy for slimming down.


    1. Ah, the ayurvedic approach... maybe I should talk about it in a later post! Thank you Mona.