I have held back from using this blog to rant about all the things that bother me about the state of individual and public health in the world we live in today.
Granted, we are in a MUCH better place than we have been in the past. but we would be foolish to accept that all is well and there is no need to push forward anymore. because if there is anything I have learned about health it is that it is never stagnant.
you never just “achieve health” and then coast for the rest of your life.
as cliche as it sounds, it really isn’t a destination so much as a journey.
So. that being said. I am choosing today to say something that may sound soapbox-y. just brace yourself.
because after a nice New Year’s day walk in the rain forest in the Olympic Peninsula I was reminded, yet again, why it is so important to know that if anything in this world matters. then everything in this world matters.
from the words you speak to the food you eat to the way you drive and the amount of times you breathe in a day.
And we come from a long line of humans who assumed that nothing they did mattered that much or really had any lasting impact unless they were politicians, celebrities, or had some worthy cause we were fighting for. but turns out, that if you are a human who eats, moves and exists in this world what you do does matter much.
your life matters.
and what you do with it matters.
So much so that our environment is crumbling beneath us and we can choose to leave it up to the politicians, celebrities, and those who are fighting the worthy causes, or we can choose to see that every thing we do from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep has lasting impacts.
My soapbox story begins in college when I was just too cheap and lazy to buy meat since it was expensive and I didn’t even like cooking that much to begin with, so I was determined to find a cheaper and easier way to eat. Lo and behold, beans are a very cheap source of protein and quite easy to throw into anything I was already eating (remember I was in college so my palate was not very refined).
Thus began my entry into the meat-free world. and turns out I liked the way I felt when I stopped eating chicken for every meal or having sausage/bacon loaded breakfasts.
Little did I know that would be the first step in to my quest for the answer to life’s most puzzling question -at least for every woman I’ve ever talked to: “what in the world should I eat to be the healthiest, happiest version of myself that I want so desperately to be?”
I explored the obvious sources: health and fitness magazines. all the popular diet books (you name it. I most likely tried it between the years of 2004-2010). and then I was spending so much time trying to figure this out that I wondered if I could get paid to do this. and after a few more clicks and searches I found out that is, in fact, a real job/career field.
Enter grad school: for a Masters in Public Health in Nutrition and Dietetics. the only problem: you had to take a boatload of science classes. and coming from an ancestral line of English teachers and right brained thinkers this was going to be a stretch. but it turns out that as I took these required courses a lot of the missing pieces began to fit into place in the context of “what” to eat and “how” it works with your body.
This confirmed my previous decision to eat a plant based diet. Everywhere I looked in textbooks and journal articles, the science and anatomy of the body and digestive system, I found a strange synergy with plant based foods in the body as compared to any processed or animal foods (not that those foods cannot be consumed but they do not have the same synergistic effect).
Not only was I saving money, becoming a better cook and feeling lighter and better than ever, I could ensure I was eating in a way that would benefit my body from the microbiome to neurotransmitters and everything in between as best I could.
Then I took a class on the environment, public health, and nutrition. I thought only hippies and animal rights activists were the ones to connect food to anything outside of the norm. (though if any of you met me during my Grad school years I probably ate and dressed in a way that was indistinguishable from said “hippies and animal rights activists”) That being said – I took the class because it was required and came out of it with yet another renewed reason to eat plants instead of animals.
The amount of information I learned (from actual scientific studies not just sensationalized statements by passionate activists) about how our agriculture and food system impacts the environment and how many gallons of water , land and agriculture go into the meat processing industry (that is animals raised for the sole purpose of turning into hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, etc) was shocking to me.
The best part was hearing how on the flip side of all this doom and gloom about the food industry was how the environment, economy and public health of our nation could drastically improve with just a few slight changes to dietary patterns.
Everyone doesn’t have to immediately become a vegan.
Everyone doesn’t even have to become a vegetarian.
They just have to agree to eat less meat. as in, even just 1 day a week forego their meat heavy dishes and use * gasp * beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, or some other plant based protein for their meals and BOOM. drastic difference in the overall impact.
So when we hear in the news all this terrible news about climate change, droughts across the country, water as the next “big short” to occur, we can continue to sit and bite our nails, yell at the TV and our politicians as we eat our typical American diet. Or we can take ownership and get creative (and save some money) to commit to eat plants for 1 day a week. To start taking inventory of our pantries and refrigerators: not because you need to go on some crazy health kick. but because you care about your kids and their kids being able to walk outside and drink in the fresh air, swim in the sea and turn on the facet to have clean water continue to come out of it for years to come.
If anything good came out of last year’s tormenting and tumultuous election season it was this: I can no longer sit on the sidelines and assume the government is looking out for everyone’s good. We are in a country BY the people. FOR the people. And when only a few loud and annoying people stand up and say something then a whole lot of other people are left feeling overlooked and underappreciated.
2017 is a year of standing up instead of sitting down. of participating instead of watching and commentating.
and even if you don’t want to start calling your congressperson daily. or join the board of a noteworthy cause.
you have to eat every day. so you might as well start with that.
and if anyone at all has questions about how to do even that. you have no excuse for not calling/texting/emailing me because I can’t do a whole lot but I can definitely help you eat. move. and sleep.