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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Winter Walks and January Jogs

I am not one to advocate exercise because one "should" do it, nor do I believe in activity as a means to "getting healthy".  Huh?  But we all need exercise, don't we?  We should ALL be trying to lead healthier lives, all the time...  right?  I'll let you decide the answer to those questions on your own.  All that I really know is that if I tell myself that I have to exercise, I am certain to avoid it at all costs.  If told that I have to eat more fruits and vegetables and cut down on such essentials as butter and chocolate, I'll crave nothing more than a slab of warm chocolate cake, slathered in melting butter (I've never actually eaten this, it just seemed to be the polar opposite of cutting down on butter and chocolate...).

Now, suggest that we take a lovely walk in the woods, or a brisk stroll around the neighborhood, I'm interested.  If, wearing the proper shoes, that stroll turns into a jog, all the better.  Movement feels good!  Present me with the possibility of eating or cooking with some delicious piece of fresh fruit, or perhaps a tempting bunch of bright green asparagus, and I'll be quite satisfied to do so.  You see, it's all about presentation, isn't it?

Many, many years ago, before we were tied to our homes by television or our Wi-Fi connections, people did walk.  Not power walking or competitive walking, just, well, walking.  Sometimes it was even seen as easier than pulling out the car.  It might have been thought of as a way to connect with friends and neighbors who were also out walking or sitting in the fresh air of the front porch.  It could have been an opportunity to share a confidence with a friend or family member.  Or, it might have simply been a nice way to spend a half hour after dinner.  During these long-past jaunts, people probably wore normal clothes and likely didn't feel it necessary to further cut themselves off from civilization with the ever present ear buds.  I don't know whether people lived longer or not, but I suspect they might have been just a little bit happier.  In fact, in countries where just this kind of activity remains common, it is supposed that they are, indeed, a jollier people.  (OK, I don't really know this exactly, but Denmark is supposed to be the happiest country on earth, and I always see picture of people walking, or biking, there...)

Food is another matter.  There are many wonderful things about our food supply today.  Things are safer, well, unless you were one of those impacted by the great cucumber poisoning of 2011, and the variety is far wider than ever.  But, there's also the rather common sensical principal of eating a varied diet.  Eating lots of vegetables and fruits because they are fresh and tasty and nice to look at...  Eating until you are satisfied, not stuffed...  Eating things that haven't been completely transformed through processing (does anyone really want to eat mechanically-separated anything?)  Do we really need experts to tell us this?  It's not really about nutrition at all, it's about enjoying life and all the wonderful things around us.

I should add a disclaimer.  I am hardly the smallest, fittest person in the world.  I do not have bulging muscles or compacted six pack abs.  I may not live as long as the neighbor who, after eating only raw foods and attired in a new pair of running shoes each week, slogs along the same route, deep in the night, day after day.  I should also say that there are many times, despite the creed I have outlined above, that I think a total physical transformation is required.  But, overall, when things are in balance, I am a pretty contented individual.

So, next time you want to run a marathon, don't think of it as training.  Think of yourself building up for a delightful and speedy 26 mile tour of the city.  Or, if you feel the need to reduce the number of butterhorns and maple bars you enjoy each week, fill your menus with so many deliciously fresh things that there's no room for them, well, at least not all of them.  You see...  it really is all about presentation.  See what I mean...

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