TRIGGER WARNING: THIS ARTICLE WILL PROBABLY OFFEND YOU, BUT IT COMES FROM A PLACE OF LOVE.
You know, most of us do more damage to our bodies than we realize. It’s not until you start cleansing the body of its stored toxins that you begin to understand how poorly you’ve been treating yourself.
After eleven years of smoking cigarettes, I made the decision to quit. I’ve been clean for almost seven months at the time of this writing, and I cannot imagine ever picking up a cigarette again. Not only because they taste like shit now, but because of the massive changes this one fix has had on my life. Thanks to not smoking, I’ve also: become a vegan, stopped drinking energy drinks and consuming processed sugars, majorly cut back on processed foods, and begun working out again. These changes have led to: a more positive mental outlook, more sound sleep, more money saved, and a new appreciation for my body.
So, why am I saying all of this?
Recently, as I’ve been looking for things to write about for this weekly article, I’ve begun to realize that I have a secret obsession with health. Not because I condemn people for being unhealthy, but because I understand just how easy it is to be unhealthy. Many of us find it easier to ignore the science and continue poisoning our bodies. Many of us don’t know the science at all. I think that’s because it’s much easier to do nothing than it is to learn what you don’t know you don’t know.
Over two-thirds of American adults are currently overweight or obese. Major contributing factors to this dilemma are the usual suspects: processed sugars and lab chemicals in most food products, prevalence of “fast” food, and a mis-categorization of weight loss as an imperative to happiness. Thanks to poor diet, Americans are now more than ever at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems, spinal issues, gallstones, and a host of other illnesses.
Food companies are using preparation shortcuts to keep up with America’s food demand and are poisoning food intentionally. Evidence suggests that they are actually paying the health industry to keep the information quiet. Documentaries like Food Inc. and What the Health? are shedding some light on this dilemma, but the fight is slow. For example: did you know the American Heart Association is corporately funded by Tyson Foods—owners of Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, Sara Lee, Ball Park, and Wright? Yep. One of America’s biggest manufacturers of processed foods that lead to heart problems also sponsors the organization that researches heart problems.
It’s in the interest of the industry for certain information to be kept out of the public eye. Why would the American Heart Association risk losing major money from their sponsors by providing info to the public such as: red meat being terrible for your diet, processed foods lead to health complications, and drinking cow milk is not good for humans (human milk is)?
It’s more than business, though. The prevalence of weight issues in the United States has led to a dizzying and dangerous obsession with the idea that you should love yourself no matter what.
This, more than anything in this article, I have a major problem with. Mostly because it’s bullshit. In the same way you shouldn’t love an abusive girl/boyfriend just for the sake of love, so you shouldn’t ignore potential health problems because you’re comfortable with your below-average health. (Also, saying things like “well, the average health is below average” is incredibly dangerous thinking. The average is horrible. That’s the point.)
Now, I know this is a terribly sensitive subject, and I know many might say I have so-called “skinny privilege”. So, I’ll try my best to address this topic with an air of tact. And, I’ll mention here that I don’t think people with weight problems are gross, unmotivated no-gooders. I understand the myriad of physical and psychological problems involved with losing weight. And, if you think I don’t, I’m happy to listen to you.
I write this article because I care, and I want people to live long and happy lives.
The truth of the matter is that higher weight leads to increased risk for health problems. The human body is not meant to be obese. The skeleton, the muscles, and the organs are only designed to support so much weight. Plus, the body is just straight up not designed to process chemicals and meats in the amounts we consume them. The liver and kidneys do filter toxins, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to flood the body with them every weekend. The lungs can filter bad particles out of air, but that doesn’t mean smoking is fine. The stomach does process food, but it’s not okay to fill it to capacity every time we eat.
While it’s never okay to condemn a person for their weight, it’s definitely important to be concerned for one another’s health. Now, I’m not telling you how to live your life. I’m just saying: sedentary lifestyle mixed with a bad diet means you’re going to have a lot of problems later in life. Same for smoking and drinking. More trips to the doctor means more money spent on medical care, and more health problems means a life of pain. Imagine suffering the horrors of growing old while also having to worry about lungs that can’t breathe, a heart that has trouble beating, and a body too heavy to move on its own. Screw the financial and personal problems. Imagine not being around for the birth of your grandchildren.
Or worse, being confined to a hospital bed, waiting to die for years.
All that said: screw the current facts and figures. It’s been widely reported that the standard body-mass index does not account for individual variation. Every body is unique, and it’s impossible to determine the “correct weight” for everyone. What is important: listening to your body and to yourself, and learning how to gauge your health in an individual and natural way. Also, really do some research on the things you eat, the chemicals you ingest, and the amount of time you might spend sitting still.
If you are having troubles performing basic life tasks (tying your shoes or walking up stairs, for example), you find that natural body processes are becoming harder (like breathing, irregular heartbeat, or painful urination), or you just plain feel like you’re too unhealthy—you should do something about it. I’ve said this about mental health and I’ll say it here: the most important thing you can do is go seek professional help. It isn’t going to solve everything and professionals can be wrong, but it’s a way better start than doing nothing. It’ll point you in the right direction, and it’s a huge sign of strength (not weakness).
I would hate for you to miss out on life and achieving your goals when you could be doing simple things to help yourself out. Just being conscious of what you consume and taking a good walk every day can be enough to fight off horrible health problems later in life. This is especially important when you consider genetic predispositions that you might not see coming.
And really, I’m not talking about just weight here. I’m talking about smokers, drinkers, people who sit around too much. I’m talking about loving the taste of milkshakes more than the taste of living longer. I’m talking about scrolling through your social media while you walk rather than while you lie around in bed.
Our generation—my generation—is one of inclusive thought and loving acceptance. That’s because history and science have given us a greater understanding of the world. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be super skinny. You don’t have to count every single calorie that you munch on. And you know what? Dessert is delicious and totally okay in moderation. So is some good wine once in a while. (Stay away from the super-processed alcohols—they’re just kitchen cleaner with flavor.) (And no, smoking is not good for you in moderation, buddy.)
But you should be healthy. You should be there for your loved ones and friends in the future.
You should love yourself. And sometimes love means telling other people the cold, hard truth. That goes double for yourself.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write this article because I don’t want to be accused of fat-shaming or body-shaming. I believe all people are beautiful, and I don’t give a single shit about outer appearances. I really do believe it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Inside meaning everything inside. I care about you guys, and I don’t want to see this perpetuation of “love your body no matter what”. It’s an unhealthy way of thinking, and it puts people at risk for deteriorating health and unhappiness in the future. I know it can be hard, and fuck the people who think health is only about weight loss. It’s not. It’s about a happier, fuller, more productive life. I want you to climb mountains and travel the Great Wall and play with your babies. I want you to swim in the ocean and walk through the forest.
I want you to enjoy life for as long as you can.
So, please, consider your health. As we move into this year’s holiday season and stare down the New Year, consider making a resolution. People who explicitly make resolutions are ten times more likely to succeed at them. And these don’t have to be hard targets. They don’t have to be an x-number of pounds lost or an x-number of miles walked. They can be as simple as: I want to feel good about my body this year. I want to avoid processed foods this year. I want to quit smoking/drinking this year.
If you have any questions or need any help, I am totally here to support you. I’ve struggled with health problems of my very own, and am now living a much happier and healthier life. I understand the struggles associated with starting, and I understand the challenges that come with maintaining a difficult routine. I’m happy to talk to anyone that wants to learn how to be healthier and happier. With luck, we can work together to make this next year the best you’ve ever had, and we can learn how to inspire others to do the very same.
I love you all. Now, truly, love yourselves.
What are your thoughts on the health culture in the United States (or abroad)? What are you stories? Share your experiences with others so that they can have a better understanding! Remember, keep your comments civil. Debating is great–but not if it’s just filled with hateful comments against one another. //This blog does not condone discrimination, bigotry, or hate of any kind.//
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