Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Fork in the Road

When faced with them, we all have to make difficult decisions. The challenge often comes in choosing between what is right and what is convenient.

I thought this would be an excellent post for all of those who have made their resolution to choose a healthier lifestyle by starting to exercise and/or adopting what they believe to be  better dietary habits and decisions. The first week or so is often pretty easy for most people to adhere to, in my experience. It is at this point (about 2 weeks into the new year) that many will begin to question whether the perceived sacrifice of hyerpalatable foods or if the hard work in the gym is really worth it.

I'll try to keep this post fitness related and it actually serves as a great segue for my next post (will be done editing by the end of the night) but the underlying theme is decision making. I was inspired to write this post by the recent article I read at Natural News by mike Adams (here), on the topic of intelligence. I don't agree with Mike on everything (both in general and in the article) but he does a great job of illustrating that there are too many people amongst us now that have really high cognitive abilities, but unfortunately in only a very narrow scope. For example, consider a Biochemist who eats fastfood in the lab while researching or a PhD in Political Science who despises, the government but still trusts them to regulate the safety of the products she uses daily. With that said, I have to disagree with Mike on this being an intelligence issue, but rather a character issue (which I suppose could be argued to be a form of  intelligence).

I call this a character issue in that we all come to points which are often referred to as "The fork in the road". Of course intelligence helps in making decisions but it really comes down to one's character.  The forks in the road that led me down the path of seeking better health and wellness were not even necessarily health related. A few vivid examples for me include taking a a class my first trimester in college that dealt with urban sprawl including the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 and  issues such as corporate manipulation of public transit to render the automobile a more convenient option(1).  Another would be the time a friend had me watch the PETA production on factory animal farming at After learning about these issues (and others of course) I came to realize that the world that I knew was not so. We have all been exposed to such incidents at some point, and it is not a matter of cognitive ability but, character that determines whether we decide to search for the true answers and ramifications  behind our questions and decisions, or continue living life as usual. Admittedly, the latter is a very comfortable life in the industrialized world, admittedly. However knowing the truth and knowing that your decisions have merit is fulfilling. Life, and more specific to this post, health are not convenient!

As individuals, we all must decide to take responsibility for our own decisions and understand how these decisions mesh with the world at large. For instance when purchasing a box of processed food-like stuff, one is not just purchasing some food, they are are making a decision that will ultimately influence the economy, the healthcare system, the local, and national ecosystems, and many other  systems on a grander scale. It may not always seem that way, but even minute decisions ultimately affect not only ourselves, but often many others as well.

The take away message here is that we all must analyze our decisions more closely. Who wrote it? Who stands to gain from my purchase? What are possible ramifications (both short and long)? The father of public relations, Eddie Bernays wrote something along the lines of, people have neither the time nor inclination to learn all the facts in Crystallizing Public Opinion. I whole heartedly agree, but day by day we have to become smarter decision makers. 

As I said this post would be a great segue. My upcoming post is on resistance training improving flexibility in women. I find it unfortunate that many women often go to the gym, only to engage in repetitive bouts of chronic cardio. In fact recent research reveals that doing so may actually be damaging over time to heart health (here). Talk about irony! I wont focus on that but rather on how weight training can improve flexibility. Another issue I plan to crush in upcoming posts is the myth that resistance training will make women bulky and the ever so forgotten fact that resistance training may be the best way for women to fend of Osteopenia and subsequently Osteoporosis. In a nut shell, this all ties into the article I referenced above. All women, not only "intelligent ones" can investigate evidenced based blogs (such as mine), journals on line, websites that specialize in weight loss, fitness , etc. to find the best way to work out for them. Make sure the articles in magazines read are referenced, and that the author is qualified to give such advice. The point is that we have to investigate our decisions rather than simply let ourselves be influenced by people who do not have our interests in mind (television producers, magazine journalists, corporations, etc.). Their primary objective is to make money, not help people lead a better life. Its ok to be a bit uncertain while searching for the truth.  The pursuit of knowledge is a challenging, yet fulfilling journey.

"Believe those who are seeking the truth.  Doubt those who find it."  ~Andre Gide

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