Continued from the previous BLOG post....
The development of Within is important, as is the search for a corporate sponsor(s). But, the most important aspect of this project to me at least, is KidPower. With the KidPower school speaking program, I have a rare opportunity to make a difference and that is one of the main reasons why I am doing this. It is these crazy cool projects like the 24 hour HPV record, this Pedal The Ocean expedition and the 24 hour HPB record attempt scheduled for this summer, that allow me to take the stage and speak out about what I believe to be a very serious problem in our modern society - in my opinion, second only to global warming.
It's called the obesity epidemic, and if the statistic that 60% of North Americans are overweight is correct, then there is a very good chance that YOU are one of them. That's the most difficult part of this whole quest of mine - I end up speaking to people who don't really want to hear my message. No body likes to be called fat and out of shape. in fact, I think most people don't really even view themselves as being fat and out of shape. This is due mostly to averages - if everyone in our society were super-model skinny, and you were 10 pounds overweight, you would feel fat. In reality, the average person is probably 20 to 40 pounds over weight and if you are only 10 pounds over, you might think that you are doing pretty good. It's this comparison to the status-quo that is the most dangerous aspect of this epidemic. it is happening to almost everyone, and we can't even see it.
1.4 million people in the US died of heart disease last year accounting for nearly 40% of all annual deaths. This compares to less than 50,000 who died from car accidents. You wouldn't even think about driving your car without a seat belt, yet many don't think twice about digging into the chocolate donut or hitting Mickie D's for a Quarter Pounder at lunch. Frankly, I am less concerned about what and how much we are eating and more concerned about our active pursuit of inactivity.
Anthropologists believe that early man used to walk the equivalent of a full marathon (that's 40 km or 26.2 miles) every single day of his/her life. Now the average North American walks the equivalent of 200 meters per day (that's 1/5 of a single kilometer or about a quarter mile). Think about that for a second. Three million years of evolution has produced an animal that required a certain minimum of activity each day just to function normally. Our activity levels have been dropping drastically for less than a hundred years - a mere .003 % on the big time line. Our bodies can't adjust to this drastic change in our environment, and as a result we are getting sick and we are dying of a variety of diseases associated to our new found sedentary environment.
I was watching a show on 60 minutes last night where Rick Berman was speaking out about how we have become a 'nanny state' where we are treated like children by our government who regulates most of what we can do and can't do and what's good for us and what's not. Mr. Berman suggests that the obesity epidemic is not an epidemic at all. He says that an epidemic is a virus that we have no control over. Becoming obese is a choice, he says. Well, I don't agree. In a way, obesity is like any other modern day disease, in that we 'create' the disease by our own doing as a society.
One of the reasons the North American natives were overrun by Europeans, according to the book Guns, Germs and Steel, was because they brought diseases with them that they were immune to. The natives weren't, and most died as a result of these diseases, not as a result of warfare like most people think. The origin of these diseases resulted from the European domestication of animals - viruses passed from the animals to people and over hundreds of thousands of years, the European people slowly became immune to these germs. In a sense, our diseases evolved WITH the Europeans and were a result of their progress as a society. When the Europeans arrived in North American with their germs, the native American people were immediately infected and died.
Over the last fifty to seventy five years, modern day society has strived to mechanize most of what we used to have to do by hand, or foot. Transportation, machines, factories, etc. This has resulted in a fairly sedentary environment where at times, it is difficult if not impossible to accomplish things the old fashioned way - using physical effort. For example many new neighborhoods aren't even being designed with sidewalks! You can't even go for a walk!!!!
During a recent school presentation I did, I discussed the possibility of walking or riding bikes to school. After the presentation some of the teachers were concerned that this would present a danger, since in some cases, there were no low-traffic routes that were safe for travel.
What I am getting at here, is that becoming over weight has become a situation which is almost out of our control - we can't help it. We are constantly bombarded with television advertising convincing us that we need to make a trip to the fridge and teaching us about the new meal between breakfast and lunch called "Leakfast" and how the "snack" is now a mandatory meal between lunch and dinner. Fast food and junk food is cheap and it has been designed by scientists to make it taste about as good as it can get. How can we not become influenced by this? Just to be normal in today's society means that we will probably end up getting fat. We can't help it. This is a disease WE are creating - just like those we created that killed off the native Americans.
The first step in dealing with the problem is letting ourselves off the hook on a personal level. It's not really our fault - but it's ALL of our faults. We need to recognize that some serious changes are required AS A SOCIETY or the obesity virus will continue to spread and grow. And this starts by ridding ourselves of the guilt that so many of us feel about our weight and state of fitness. You don't feel guilty when you catch a cold, but you do everything in your power to cure yourself. We need to treat the obesity epidemic the same way - it's not your fault, but you should still do everything in your power to cure yourself.
And unlike the common cold, a cure for our expanding waste lines is readily available! This problem CAN be overcome, and it does NOT require medicine or modern technology. Just a return to what our bodies are craving - some activity!
If any of you need a little motivation or some advice on becoming more active in your lives, I am here to help. Send me an email, and I offer what ever I can.
Very best regards,