Sunday, July 8, 2007

Blog 005 - vacation fitness

I’ll be leaving for a week of vacation in New York City in a few days. I am looking forward to the museums, some concerts, and just walking around the city.

Of course, there is the downside of travel – staying with a fitness program. Finding a good place to workout and a way to eat healthy food when you’re stuck eating most meals in restaurants can be difficult. But, I have a pretty good system for this.

I’ve already located a gym near where I’m staying. There is a great little store just around the corner that is well-stocked with fresh fruit that I can eat for breakfast and lunch every day. So I’ve got a plan.

The trick to maintaining a fitness program is to make it a priority without making it an obstacle to having fun. Yes, it takes effort, and yes, in the past, I have let the anxiety over missing a workout get in the way of doing other things. I’m much better about that these days. I still workout while I travel, but I look at these workouts as “maintenance workouts” designed to be quick so that they don’t interfere with other plans.

I also look at the week of vacation as a time to “rest.” By rest I don’t mean “do nothing.” I mean ease up on the intensity. It turns out that this is a good thing to do now and then.

There is a line between fanaticism and healthy living – a line that is not always easy to see. Most people would label me a fanatic. I counter this allegation with something I read a long time ago about the amount of physical activity done by an average person living just 50 – 60 years ago in a less mechanized culture.

The article said that the more physically demanding lives of people just a few generations back was about like running a marathon (26.2 miles) every week, or 3.7 miles a day. Were they fanatics? No. They were doing what had to be done to survive, and it required physical activity.

We evolved over many millennia to eat a diet of whole foods and to move around – a lot. Today we are simply out of synch with our genes and the consequence is obesity and chronic disease. Our modern artificial environment does not require the same physically active life that our ancestors faced, even our fairly recent ancestors. This same modern environment confronts us with an abundance of unnaturally poor quality food that we find hard to resist.

To stay fit, therefore, requires that we add an additional layer of artificial living on top of our artificial world. That means we have to make time to run when there is nothing to chase after, and nothing chasing after us. We have to lift heavy objects overhead repeatedly, even though we ultimately intend to leave them on the ground. And we have to look for the quaint little stores that sell food that our ancestors would recognize as food.

I’m not a fanatic. I’m just trying to live the life we evolved to live.

Now, what book should I bring on the trip?

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p2h said...

Well said.

I attended a company picnic the other day. The fare was standard summer picnic fare - basically, nothing that I wanted to eat.

So I picked at some baked beans and ate the tomato and lettuce meant as condiments for the burgers.

A colleague observed me and commented that I had become a health freak. And she was right. I'm the freak yet I was the only one avoiding the unhealthy foods.

SallyT said...

Have you read the China Study? It's a great read on diet. Right now I'm listening to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I like her approach to fresh local food but she does talk too much about meat and dairy.

Zenartist said...

have a great time in the big city. I was in New York City last year with my daughter and we found great grocery stores and wonderful organic food restaurants. Walking was one of our daily activities. I enjoy challenging myself in traveling situations, to be spontaneous, creative with food, flexible in every way and open to all possibilities. It is amazing the beauty and kindness at every turn.
Have a great trip.