If sitting is the new smoking, some would believe that our sedentary lives are what's killing us. And while it's definitely not good, what we put into our bodies is vastly more important than the amount of squats we do. I will say however, for the record, we need both a healthy diet and exercise for optimum health.
Here's a video that shows data to support the claim that exercise is important but not as important as diet.
I like to change how I think about exercise because I don't like the word "exercise." To me, it feels like something I "have" to do that will be hard and a lot of work. I don't like to work really. This is why I like the word "movement." Just moving your body is enough to keep you healthy if you do it regularly. That sounds a lot easier to do then "exercise." In midlife, moving is important because the saying, "move it or lose it" is now the reality. If you don't move your body, you're going to lose muscle tone and mass as well as flexibility. And it'll get worse the older you get.
So, if diet is the number one indicator of whether you're going to live a healthy life or a life full of disease, why don't we talk about it more? This has me puzzled because over the course of a few months, I went from exhausted to being full of energy simply by changing what I ate. I also had lots of problems with my digestive system that went away. Yet, doctors hardly ever prescribe to you broccoli or spinach for gastrointestinal distress. But did you know that the average person has a one-in-twenty chance of developing colon cancer over the course of their lifetime? [American Cancer Society] Did you also know that you can drastically reduce your chances of getting colon cancer through your diet? [JAMA Internal Medicine]
As I'm learning more about nutrition and the critical role it plays in keeping our bodies healthy and functioning optimally, it has made me realize that we need to be more aware of what we consume. Food delivers messages to every cell in your body and some food is designed to communicate clearly and effectively, helping the body maintain homeostasis (something else I'm learning a lot about). Homeostasis, from the Greek words for "same" and "steady," refers to any process that living things use to actively maintain fairly stable conditions necessary for survival. Other foods are designed to simply make you crave more of it so you'll buy more of it.
Here's a challenge for you: For five days, keep track of EVERYTHING you eat. Write it down. This includes if what you ate was from a package or if it was from whole food (prepackaged cut carrots versus a carrot with the green stuff still attached). After the five days, go back and review what you ate then review the nutritional benefits of what you ate. You might find that what you're eating has little, if any, nutritional value to your body. I'm hoping that won't be the case but if it is, once you notice this, you can always change it.
And I believe one of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou applies here: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."