You don’t need permission to change

Most people think it’s stupid to deny yourself of the pleasures in life just so that you can look a certain way. They think it’s a vain thing to do.

I hate it when people say that trying to look better is vain. They believe that their physical condition is separate from the person inside of them, but they are wrong. Being out of shape comes from the fact that they’re not taking care of themselves.

This quote comes from extremebodybuilding.net, who did a post about the decision not to eat junk food for an entire year. Check it out; it’s really interesting. It highlights a few issues that always come up in my own discussions about health food with others:

  • Other people often don’t understand why you “deny” yourself foods
  • It can be hard to admit you’re trying to look and feel better, because this can be considered self-indulgent
  • Candies and cookies and fast food (pizza) are often used as rewards, snacks, or easy group meals and it’s hard to avoid them without drawing attention to yourself
  • It sucks to feel like you’re the only one who cares

In many ways this is a great post, but if you read the whole thing, you might agree that it’s unnecessarily negative. It asserts that people who don’t understand why you want to be healthy "have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the true pleasures of life are." Yeah, it sucks when people react negatively to your life choice, and I definitely agree that "the true pleasure of life is not the way a cookie tastes." But why focus on them when the point is to focus on yourself, on getting healthier and stronger? Why worry about what others’ reactions will be? 

If you embrace your healthy lifestyle confidently and you are open about the changes you’ve made, rather than trying to hide them or make excuses for yourself, not everyone will understand or agree that you’re making the right choices, but the important thing is that you understand and are doing what’s best for your own body. Take responsibility for yourself. Tell people upfront that you’re trying to eat healthier, and laugh it off if they make a snide remark - they probably just don’t take you seriously. When you show that you’re confident and happy with your decision, these same people might start to wonder whether you might be onto something after all. 

In fact, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how many people will be proud of and inspired by you. Most of my friends, when I tell them how interested I am in health and fitness, react positively and actually start to ask me questions about changes I’ve made or things they might be able to do to help themselves. It’s a matter of how you present yourself. If you act ashamed of your own decisions, if you try to hide the fact that you want to be healthy, or if you’re embarrassed to draw attention to your different eating habits, then of course other people will feel bad for you or feel uncomfortable. But if you act excited, and eager to share what you know, people will see that being healthy actually makes you feel better about yourself. If they’re good friends, they’ll want you to be happy, and they’ll support your decisions.

Take responsibility for your own actions, without waiting to be validated by others! And most of all, be proud of yourself. Taking care of your physical health, your mental health, and your appearance are not vain - and they go hand in hand. You have every right to want to look and feel good, and the better you look and feel, the more you’ll want to spread this positive energy to friends and family. That’s not self-indulgent at all.

(c) NICK VAN WOERT, Mr. Potato Head, 2009.
Inspired by the work of Nick Van Woert, who thinks of the body in terms of being a mirror of its environment. What you eat is part of your relationship to the world around you, and it impacts your body inside and out. As this sculpture suggests, you look like your food — because you’re made of it.

(c) NICK VAN WOERT, Mr. Potato Head, 2009.

Inspired by the work of Nick Van Woert, who thinks of the body in terms of being a mirror of its environment. What you eat is part of your relationship to the world around you, and it impacts your body inside and out. As this sculpture suggests, you look like your food — because you’re made of it.

Tags: art

Fake food spotlight: high fructose corn syrup

High Fructose Corn Syrup, recently renamed “corn sugar,” is the number one red-flag ingredient you should look for on food labels. Here’s why.

HFCS is a “sugar” that has been created through heavy processing that involves extracting syrup from corn, running it through machines, adding enzymes, and engineering it to make it taste sweeter. In making HFCS, we actually change the chemical composition of the corn and we end up with a drug-like juice substance that is entirely unheard of in nature.

HFCS has almost completely replaced “sugar “as we know it in the food industry (you know, the white stuff you use when you bake at home). This means that any time we eat a processed food, we’re eating something that’s key flavoring ingredients (and caloric content) are man-made chemicals, not substances that would ever occur on their own. Check out this list of foods that are almost guaranteed to contain HFCS:

  • Breads
  • Cereals
  • Breakfast bars and granola bars
  • Lunch meats
  • Yogurts
  • Soups
  • Condiments
  • Most snack foods, cookies, cakes, and candies
  • Soft drinks

Because it’s cheap and easy to use, we genetically engineer and mass-produce HFCS on huge mono-crop corn fields that cause land erosion and rely on pesticides that later end up in your food. But the biggest issue is that we’ve only been making High Fructose Corn Syrup since about 1960, and only on a mass scale since the 1970s. This means many of our parents were never exposed to HFCS before they were teenagers — and now, it’s a main component of our diet.

We don’t know everything there is to know about HFCS because it’s such a recently invented substance. But the cheapness of HFCS has led to its includion in almost everything and thus a drastic increase in sugar consumption in America. So eliminating HFCS from your diet is likely to help solve a lot of problems related to overconsumption of sugars. It can:

  • Soothe joint pains and improve sports performance
  • Prevent or cure arthritis
  • Prevent, cure, or temper diabetes
  • Prevent or reverse obesity
  • Eliminate migranes and mood swings
  • Clear up your skin
  • Prevent heart attacks (spikes in insulin caused by HFCS consumption lead to hardened arteries)
  • Prevent and cure psychological, learning and attention disorders

This is because HFCS messes with your hunger receptors, your insulin, your brain.

If you’re going to eliminate anything from your diet, don’t cut out something natural — cut this out. If food is “nourishment,” this is one ingredient that doesn’t belong on our plates.


Sugar and inflammation

Bikram studio owner and 2005 International Yoga Asana Championship winner Esak Garcia advises eliminating sugar and refined flour from your diet to reduce inflammation that can inhibit joint mobility. Although researchers haven’t looked at sugar consumption and yoga specifically, the University of Maryland Medical Center does advise osteoarthritis patients — who suffer painful joint inflammation — to ‘avoid refined foods, such as white breads, pastas and sugars.’