What’s the Real Problem?

I’ve had enough!

This is my “I’ve had enough” face. I still make it to this day.

I have seen one too many diet pill commercials. One too many 5-Hour Energy commercials and AeroShot “breathable caffeine shot” commercials where the person simply can’t function without their caffeine shot – they need one before work, during that mid-day slump, after work, to get to the gym, to deal with the kids, etc. Why should anyone have to turn to a cocktail of artificial flavors to get them moving? Is it really necessary to inhale caffeine every day? If you want to lose weight, why not try the old-fashioned method of diet and exercise?

Please allow me to extensively explain my personal , non-professional opinion on nutrition, fitness, and PREVENTABLE diseases. I am speaking to no one in particular, just “society” as I’ve been seeing it lately.

The AeroShot website shows pictures of people partying with their little caffeine inhalers and promises to keep you awake after “devouring a bacon double cheeseburger at lunch”. Maybe don’t eat the bacon double cheeseburger at lunch? Just a suggestion. Now, I haven’t been doing any secret scientific studies about the effects of caffeine inhalation, nor do I have any sort of professional experience in the matter. But common sense tells me that there are better ways to treat your body. Even when your job is demanding, the kids are demanding, school is demanding…life is demanding. Take a deep (caffeine free) breath and try and prioritize. Consider what you’re depending upon day in and day out to keep you awake.

Enough with treating the symptom and not the problem!

I get it. I’ve had so many of those days in my life.From boardrooms to business dinners, I’ve spent my fair share of time at the office. There were countless days that I worked past midnight and was back in the office by 7am. With my last job, I had long days outside under the hot sun, long nights enduring freezing cold temperatures, and spent lots of quality time with my desk and computer. I spent precious college summers flying halfway across the country for highly coveted internships. I worked my way up and dove straight into a full-time job following my much anticipated graduation. Even though I’m only “20-something” I am no stranger to that “overworked” feeling. That’s life. Even through the exhaustion I found a part of me that felt smart and motivated.

My point is, I know how much easier (and cheaper) it is to grab some kind of processed snack or heat up a microwavable meal. I know what it feels like to want caffeine to wake up. Companies plan their marketing schemes around people who work, work, work and need a quick and easy solution for whatever they or their family need. But come on, enough already with the quick fixes. Learning (and teaching others) how to live a healthy lifestyle is key.

When you stop taking care of yourself, you’re putting your body at risk. This study discusses how the risk for certain diseases increases when sound nutritional principles are lacking in your diet. This doctor, in a speech titled “Developmental Origins of Chronic Disease” believes that chronic diseases are preventable with a balanced diet, beginning in the womb. This researchers in this study are currently reviewing the health benefits of apples. (They keep the doctor away, right?)

This article about artificial sweeteners even goes so far as to say that artificial sweeteners in “waste water” can interfere with our filtered drinking water, as well as organisms’ feeding habits, affecting the entire food chain. They are worried it will affect the ENTIRE FOOD CHAIN! How scary is that. Let’s save the Earth together, shall we?

And I’ll take my tap water unsweetened, thank you.

Like I said, why don’t we focus on the root of the problem, not the symptom? Runners know; it’s the same thing with an injury – icing and foam rolling and taking NSAIDs all day will help in the short term, but if you have IT band problems, you’re probably gonna have to work on strengthening your glute muscles. Knee problems? Try strengthening those hips! This extends to everyone: if you’re tired, try to get more sleep. Focus on eating nutritious meals. Don’t just drink energy drinks. Exercise. Make the time. Maybe try and involve the crazy kids who are the cause of your sleep deprivation. You know what to do. Take a page from Nike’s book and “Just Do It”. (Sorry I’m not sorry for that cliche.)

The researchers who wrote this paper even concluded that “exercise and physical activity have beneficial effects on depression symptoms that are comparable to those of antidepressant treatments”. But you already know exercise is good for you. Yay exercise. Let’s all be happy.

Wyatt is always happy. And also, I thought you might be bored with all the words, so here is a picture. You’re welcome.

The majority of people reading this already understand the components of a healthy, balanced lifestyle and are way more knowledgeable than I am. It’s just that some of the messages in commercials these days make me want to punch something. Sadly, a lot of people don’t know what’s good and what’s bad when it comes to diet and exercise. They are misinformed about what a solid workout is or just aren’t motivated to follow an exercise program. They think it’s totally normal to inhale caffeine. Again, I’m no scientist, but really?! If you find yourself depending on a caffeine shot every day, I think there’s a problem.

Personally, disease terrifies me; I realize certain problems CAN happen to me if I’m not cognizant, and I’m not “too young to worry about it”.

Perhaps the misinformation is due to conflicting info like this: $29 Billion Reasons to Lie About Cholesterol. (The cholesterol debate is also discussed in a book I recently read called “Real Food” by Nina Planck.) I’ve even heard people call 100-calorie packs of cookies “healthy” just because they are “low-calorie” or “low-fat”. Obviously a low calorie count isn’t synonymous with health, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this statement. “It only has 100 calories, so it’s healthy”. Better than that bacon double cheeseburger, yes, but I’m sorry to say that bag of fat-free potato chips probably isn’t filled with nutrients.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a nutritionist, and my diet isn’t perfectly balanced. I like love candy and I’ll certainly go out for frozen yogurt or eat popcorn at the movies. I don’t even want to tell you what I used to buy for lunch in junior high (pizza and an Oreo brownie, haha). But I take note of what I eat and consciously strive to pick the best option when I can. Maybe I don’t get popcorn AND frozen yogurt in the same week. I can practice self-control (usually). Hooray for moderation!

All in all, it can be hard to know what to believe these days, but being proactive and doing your own research are two ways to get in-the-know. It scares me that people are consuming items they don’t even know to be harmful.

Let’s review. Is it worth the extra effort to find nutritious foods? To make time in your day for exercise? To find more time for sleep?

Is it worth it to spend time fighting a disease that could have possibly been prevented? To worry about your health and spend money on doctor’s visits? Some people have problems they can’t do much about. If you CAN take action to prevent something, wouldn’t you want to?

Consider your priorities.

Don’t eat crap every day. Exercise. Get as much sleep as you can. Everything in moderation. Do your research. Smile, laugh, spend time with family and friends. Be happy. Be healthy.

I’m a writer currently living in New Jersey and blogging about running, fitness, wellness, and motivation. I want every reader to laugh and feel empowered, balanced, and motivated! Subscribe by email to get 1-2 newsletters a month with post updates, my favorite articles, running playlists and more!
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  1. February 22, 2012 / 12:37 pm

    Thank you! This unhealthy culture of ours, always looking for the quick fix rather than taking a minute to take care of ourselves, drives me crazy! I would hate to know what a big market these drinks have. I’m sure it’s astounding.

    • February 22, 2012 / 2:15 pm

      Thanks for the comment! It drives me crazy as well (obviously!). It scares me how some people can be so careless with their health.

  2. February 22, 2012 / 7:32 pm

    I really like this. I’m definitely guilty of eating crap sometimes (especially microwave meals, I tend to eat them for lunch a lot just because I eat at my desk and it’s easy, but I do try to stick with the “better” ones, if you can call them that).

    BUT… there’s something to be said about those who put crap in their bodies every. single. day. One of my friends was trying to “diet”, and was so grouchy without his fast food, sugared up coffee, etc for the few days… well, anything that’s going to make you go through angry withdrawals when you don’t have it for a day or two cannot possibly be good for you!

    I definitely believe that apple thing because I eat one every single day and (knocks on wood) have not been sick to the point of having to miss work, going to the doc for meds, etc since January 2011. Maybe that’s it, maybe not, but I’m sticking with a diet of eating healthy…

    • February 22, 2012 / 7:47 pm

      Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of it too! But I see some people doing it every day, like you said, and it seriously makes me sad. I’ve also heard comments like “working out doesn’t do anything” and that makes my heart hurt, haha.

      YES to the withdrawal thing! That obviously cannot be good. Your body has an interesting way of telling you when things aren’t right. And I have an apple every day too :)

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