Friday, June 22, 2012

Take Some (Healthy) Responsibility

We talked about body image last week and I had a good time. I bumped into someone at a party whom I'd never met before who said he'd seen my before and after fitness photos because a mutual friend had shared them. I was flattered. But the spark it set off was that results can reach out, and results of all types and sizes can inspire people you've never even met. Fitness aside, there are success stories from people overcoming and conquering all types of issues that can spread like wildfire to inspire others. So just keep that in mind. You are an example to not just those in your immediate circles, but to those you may never even meet.

In the past few weeks there's been a lot of headlines in the news about soda. NY Mayor Bloomberg has issued a ban on soda cups or sizes over 16 oz. with other states looking to follow suit, and some states now wanting to issue a soda tax of one cent per oz. That's pretty substantial. Consider how much soda people buy, in 12 or 24 packs, at 12 oz. a can, an extra penny taxed on each of those ounces. That makes a 12 pack of Coke a Cola cost an extra $1.44. It might not seem like much when you think of it only as an extra buck and a half, but for the amount of soda people buy on a weekly, or even daily, basis that's pretty substantial.

We've all heard, over time, parents suing (or trying to) fast food chains for making their kids fat. I remember the story of a San Francisco woman trying to sue McDonald's because it was encouraging her children to eat junk food by putting toys in their Happy Meals. That case got thrown out April 4th 2012.

If we did enough research, I'm sure we'd find countless stories based along the same lines, whether they pertain to fast food, candy, soda, chips, you name it.

Considering I spent most of last week suggesting we stop eating so much junk food and start taking better care of our bodies you might expect me to be all for these bans on big gulps, taxes on soda, and class action suits designed to help keep our kids healthy. But I'm not. A tax on sodas makes the most sense to me, sort of. If it acts as an encouragement for folks to start buying healthier options because soda is getting a little too expensive, then wonderful, I can see the logic there. But overall, it still seems a little ridiculous mostly because it makes me feel like I, and the rest of the country, are being told we're not capable of making our own healthy choices; that we need some law to force us to be that way.

A mom suing McDonald's because it makes her kids want to eat junk food has essentially said, "You're making it difficult for me to parent my children. Stop that. I don't like telling them 'no.'"

A regulation on the size of soda cups is like saying, "Well, considering you're not capable of making the right choices we're going to go ahead and make them for you. You're welcome."

The greatest part about the soda cup size ban is that it just means that's the regulatory size of cup restaurants must use, but a person is welcome to any refills they desire or are welcome to buy two 16 oz. drinks should they want 32 oz. of their favorite Fizzy Lifting Drink. So you could technically drink the same amount of soda you always have, but it's just being sold to you in a smaller cup. For your health!

Look, I'm all for smaller portion sizes, but I'm also tired of people not really wanting to take responsibility for what they've done to their body. If your kids are fat because of McDonald's Happy Meals, it ain't the Pikachu at the bottom of the bag making it happen, it's you allowing your kids to eat McDonald's food so often. If you're worried about McDonald's affecting their health then you, you know, just say no. You're their parent. If they kick and scream that they want that Happy Meal you do what a parent should.

There is an overabundance of junk food in our country and obesity is becoming a major problem. Part of the reason is because of the incredible amount of unhealthy options available to people at incredibly low prices. It has become a bit difficult to shop smarter and healthier considering fresh food that is good for us is more expensive than the dollar menu at the local Jack in the Box. But considering the amount of calories people take in, versus the amount they should take in, I'd wager that the same amount of money is spent on junk food because it buys more, which keeps them fuller, longer. If we spent the same money on less food, but healthy food, it'd probably force us to take in the more appropriate amount of calories we're supposed to rather than the extra thousand or more we consume each day.

But because of our choosing to be overabundant in junk, companies have taken advantage of our addiction to their product. That's why soda sizes get bigger and bigger, why you can get 10% more potato chips for the same price, or you get 2 egg McMuffins for the price of 1. If you're buying it, they're going to sell it to you. But don't ever forget, you're choosing to do all of this. When you stick junk food in your mouth and eat it, you're making a choice to do so. It's not the hand of Bob's Big Boy spoon feeding you blue cheese against your will. So because, over the past several decades, we've decided to make poorer and poorer dietary choices companies have Scrooge McDuck'ed the hell out of us and now swim in pools full of pennies. Because we make the choice to work for junk food companies, those companies "work for us" by making more junk readily available at more affordable prices.

Contrary to popular belief, these companies are not getting rich off us poor innocent folk; We're making them rich.

And that brings us to today, in a 64 oz. soda cup sized America, in a super size optional world where there's Toys put in our junk food to make our kids happy.

When I was growing up, I LOVED my Happy Meals. Some of those toys I actually still have, locked up somewhere in storage. But I can remember not being able to finish my fries after my Chicken McNuggets. I'd eat those five nuggets, make it to my fries, and not be able to finish them because it was too much food. As I got older, especially in High School (when I was eating at my poorest), when I finished that Big Mac and super sized fries I was still hungry. The extra large burrito, the In-N-Out secret 4x4 and Animal fries weren't enough. If there was food, I could eat it because I was always hungry.

But I chose to eat those things. And at that time, being in High School and even in College, I was lucky enough to have a Dad who paid for my groceries. It's not like I was trying to stretch my food stamps out to the maximum, or like my meager paycheck was paying for my grocery bill. I was pretty spoiled to have a parent who helped me pay for my food. And regardless of not having to pay for that food myself, I still bought junk. Why? Because I wanted to. Because I chose to. The food was tasty and amazing and I wanted it so I made it happen.

A recent study puts America as the #1 fattest nation. The world, collectively, weighs nearly 287 million tons. 15 million of which is due to being overweight and 3.5 million tons due to obesity. North America comprises of 6% of the world's population, but it makes up for 34% of the world's extra weight due to obesity.

You'd think, after all this, someone who felt this way about unhealthy foods would want some form of Governmental regulation to help limit the intake of this. Wrong. I want us to start taking some responsibility for our choices. Remember last week? Your genes aren't making you obese, there is no fat or junk food gene. We're making conscious decisions to eat bad food and now we're hooked on it. It's a drug. It's designed to taste so good, to fire off those happy receptors in your brain that you keep coming back for more. Now that we're starting to see the terrible toll it's beginning to take on the world we're trying to regulate people's poor choices instead of trying to teach people to make better decisions themselves, trying to help people overcome their addiction to junk food.

If McDonald's wants to put toys in their Happy Meals, good, let them. Those toys gave me many a childhood joy as they will for many other children, but I know when to say no. McDonald's is playing into the demand WE created for them and for ourselves. By making bad choices, junk food companies are only answering our call for more. Why? Because it sells. These aren't evil companies preying on our innocent children and making otherwise perfectly healthy people fat because of some nefarious plot, they're doing what WE have allowed them to do. They didn't let this get out of control, we did. We asked for the 64 oz. soda, the super sized fries, the triple cheeseburger, the triple sized, ranch soaked, bacon coated "salad". America has become the most obese Nation on Earth because, long story short, we've chosen to be that way. Because we demanded it, they've supplied it.

If you want smaller portions, smaller sodas, less toys, from all of these companies then you've got to start making some better choices. When the demand falls, the product ceases to be produced. Granted, that's an economic model that may require as much time to undo as it had taken to create, but that's the necessary process. If no one buys something, eventually, companies will stop making it. Why? Because they're not making a profit.

But we're buying. We're addicted. We're making the choice to buy, making the choice to eat poorly, making the conscious decision to fall prey to this. We're not the victims, we're the culprits.

Don't rely on some governmental regulation or class action lawsuit to help make you healthier, you've got to make the decision for yourself, summon the will you have to break that addiction. If you need outside influences to force you to make better choices that means we've work to do. It's okay, not everyone is capable of doing it on their own, sometimes it takes some prodding or outside help and motivation. That's why I'm here. That's why there's countless others out there willing to help the world get healthy the right way, by making the choice to do so.

Remember, it's your life and you've only got one. Quit trying to blame everyone and everything else. Don't point the finger and blame soda for making you unhealthy, point it backward at yourself and quit drinking so much damn soda. Junk food companies aren't making you sick, you are. The Government can't make you healthy, but you can. Analyze your excuses, really break them down, and if you're justifying why its not your fault and that it should be a laws responsibility to make people healthier, then you're disconnected from reality. For every decision you make in life, think it through. Bite the bullet and take some responsibility.

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