Why your Lifestyle is Costing you Money
The meaning of life has been contemplated since the beginning of time, or at the very least, human cognition and communication. From Socrates and Plato, Einstein and Hemingway, and even two guys stoned out of their minds on the hood of an old car staring it all the stars – contemplation of our existence is the most human experience.
What is most interesting about this universal practice is the inherent variation in the value and meaning of life due to differences in everything and anything ranging from cultural history, socioeconomic status, and period of existence.
In early Greek and Roman culture, life, and the act of living it, was much simpler than it is today. They were born in the images of their gods, goddesses, the Titans, and their ancestors from above – with the purpose of honoring them to the fullest; never to anger or rile, and most certainly never to defy. Work was done, families were raised, and lands were defended. Action was the norm in a world free of the distractions of modernity.
Time passed and with it came more complicated ways of lives. Boats crossed oceans, and world leaders became even more aware that much land, resource, and wealth was to be had. A new world was found by the European nations – one which would eventually rise to be the most powerful and influential of all countries. Yet, as the rise of this world, most specifically, the United States of America – and its absolute commitment to manifest destiny, opportunity, and the American Dream – the epitome of “life” morphed into something completely different.
Days were once spent toiling in the fields, and building the villages that became towns which now stand as cities throughout the land. Now, people look to a handheld game to help them get their step counts in an effort to compensate for the eight to twelve hours that they spend parked on their backside. Labor used to be laborious. For man now it is nothing more than tedious.
Breakfast spreads in conference rooms and spreadsheets at one’s desk has done much to spread the width of the American waistline. The rat race, or so they call it, has become a crawl as many find themselves stuck in the same job, wishing on the same dreams, and often reliving the same day. This mundane existence traps people into thinking there isn’t enough time to give back to themselves.
There is no way the gym fits into their schedule when they have kids to take to practice, and an important meeting in the morning. Ugh, why cook when there is a perfectly good takeout joint around the corner.
The laziness of the moment soon becomes the stifling habits of the future.
The trappings of the American dream – the car, the house, the family with two kids, and just enough money to take a few vacations – has led so many astray. It has led to a meteorically rise in obesity, diabetes, and many other nasty medical conditions that limit the expectancy, and more importantly, quality of life.
How did the population of a once proud and capable nation – let themselves go?
A Generation for Profit of the Pocket & Bankruptcy of the Body-
It seems that there is one distinct difference between those born as Gen-X through today’s millennials and their parents. – The assumption of negative aging as a way of life.
An older generation, those born between 1960 and 1980, operate along a streamlined way of thinking passed down to them from their own parents. You grow up, get a job, and work until you die. You sprinkle in some family, a few vacations, and a little spot of land with a little house full of big memories and bills.
Your body is nothing more than a vessel to get you from the beginning of your journey to the end point. Your hands were meant for toil, and your mind only needed enough to help you navigate the world you are surrounded by. Long days in school were replaced by long hours at the mill, the mines, or on the farms. Essentially a soldier of fortune – whether the bounty came from the factory or the front lines.
Not much thought was given to taking care of one’s body. Whatever food hit the table was good enough, and your job was labor enough – certainly there stood no need to be lifting weights and running in your spare time. Athletes excelled on mostly natural ability, but often experienced short careers due to the compounding stress sport can have on a body that is not being taken care of. Beer and brats in the clubhouse before a Super Bowl, and even a Perfect Game thrown on LSD.
It wasn’t until Jack LaLanne and Jane Fonda found their ways onto the television sets of this generation that the curiosity was sprung. Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone soon filled the movies with muscles. Yet, most remained unmoved by these celebrities and continued to work as they were, and still do today.
It isn’t an awful way of life, and one would argue it is this mentality of work hard for your family that helped build the American dream. One could even surmise that this attitude is also something that is missed by much of the youngest generation, the millennials.
The younger generation, from 1980 to 2000 (assuming working age), is one that from the outside wants to do no work and still reap many of the rewards. Selfish and selfless all the same – activists with activities and spenders without jobs.
Yet, this generation is also the most educated in the history of the country. More people are walking around with Bachelor’s degrees than ever before, and many have gone on to get advanced degrees as well. Beyond formal education the internet is a sea of information ready to be dove into by any curious mind. For better or for worse all knowledge that ever was and will be can found with the correct combinations of keystrokes and mouse clicks.
With that education came a new understanding the human form. Kinesiology, physiology, diatetics, and psychology have all ushered in waves of information that have changed how we view our bodies. No longer just a vessel to go from port to port – the human form is now seen as a luxury cruise liner meant to sail the open water for as long as possible. Every advance provides an opportunity to sail better, longer, or more lavishly than those who hit the open waters before them.
Personal training and organic foods. Hot yoga and green shakes. Long walks on the beach and meditation amongst the trees in the forest. Billions of dollars, and thousands of industries have been born from the awakening of the human body.
Yet, so many still follow the script handed down to them from a generation who wasn’t taught any better. Early mornings on too little of sleep, long hours without enough hydration or quality foods, and a nighttime binge session of anything and everything they craved in the previous hours. One pound leads to three more. Those four become twelve and so on and so on until it becomes more work than that individual is prepared to commit.
Too much else is in the way now -
Pokemon’ Go is the latest craze to sweep the nation and transfix people into their technological devices. At least this one gets people moving around though. Nonetheless, technology has grown to the point where it has become more rare to find a family of four talking at a restaurant than it is to see them scrolling through Facebook, pounding out likes on Instagram, or waiting for their next turn in a game.
Playstations and Xbox’s sit at home underneath the seventy-inch televisions and surround sound systems that trump the theater and sporting experience. The car parks itself, the vacuum scoots around without us, and we talk with our thumbs more than our mouths.
There are apps for free appetizers and emojis hide real emotions.
You sit in your car to drive to work and sit at your desk for nine hours so that you can drive home and sit on your couch to eat a quick meal while watching every show you can. All these happens between the times that we are lying on our backs struggling to sleep; every night a battle of stomach aches, headaches, allergies, and restlessness.
In short, our technological advances have made our lives easier and more fun. Yet, they’ve robbed us of the independence and free-spirit that defines the human condition. Human beings are given a myriad of abilities that place us above other animals in the biosphere, and yet, we choose to disregard them in favor of living in our brains while moving like a slug.
Our depression comes from the oppression that we’ve forced upon ourselves by eschewing our natural calling; instead worrying about who is calling, or texting, or…wait…did that girl really just like my status...
Arrogance cloaking Inadequacy
There is a tremendous irony when it comes to mastering the physical form. Going to school to earn a degree earns massive celebration and respect from many. Becoming a doctor or lawyer is seen as an elite achievement.
Yet, getting into incredible shape is selfish, boring, and pursuit of those who aren’t “busy” doing other things.
“I’d look like that too if I didn’t have a life”
“Ugh, she looks too skinny now – all she eats is lettuce, how boring.”
Comments like this are quips for those who haven’t earned the body that they really want. It is much easier to dismiss the successful endeavors of others than to face the painful truth of one’s own shortcomings.
Not everyone will want to be in photo shoot shape and that is perfectly fine. It takes more dedication and discipline than even many fitness professionals and athletes want to commit.
It is really hard to say no to a cheeseburger and cold beer, after all.
However, as the waistline of the nation expands, and the medical expenses sky rocket – a massive shift in mindset must take place. In order to at least hit the brakes and stop the degradation of the American health profile there has to be an intervention. It starts with ending the bullshit attitudes towards fitness.
Just because you have a body doesn’t mean you understand it. Just because you know what spinach looks like on a grocery store shelf doesn’t mean you understand why it should be in your diet. Just because you’ll probably wake up tomorrow, doesn’t mean you should keep putting off today’s toil.
A few less Instagram posts about “Rising and Grinding” and a few more days of actually doing so is the prescription for change. Begging for understanding for your lack of physical fitness all while taking a massive dump on the entire culture of those looking to take care of themselves maximally needs to kick it.
The irony of the previous statement is that most fitness professionals, bodybuilders, models, and general activity enthusiasts are some of the most positive people to be around. There is always a few bad apples, but for the most part the influence of this group is beyond motivational. It can be transcending to sit among people who truly love helping others actualize a healthier life.
Yet, go to the typical neighborhood bar, or chain restaurant and you’ll be quick to find the angry, bitter, and jealous. A snide comment about the friend eating a salad and only having a single glass of wine is commonplace. Yet, somehow – that “fit” person is the asshole. Funny how it works…
The mindset has to change in order to be able to overcome.
With great power comes great responsibility – Voltaire
The internet provides the greatest avenue of information sharing the world has ever known. Anyone from anywhere can learn about anything so long as they can connect to the World Wide Web.
So much of what is on the internet is quality information. Nonetheless, like anything else in the world – there is a high probability of something going awry. Whether it is ruthless capitalists just looking to make a buck, or misinformed, yet vivacious personalities with a following – there is a lot of incorrect information passed along.
Everything from the shake weight, DVDs, anything Tracy Anderson has ever said, or just some feisty college kid fresh out of his biomechanics class – not everything that is available is actually right.
That is the risk with information. Not everyone is going to get the truth.
Some people still believe the Earth is flat.
The oppressed population in North Korea is told that their leaders were appointed by Gods.
People will vote this November based upon an affiliation rather than their minds.
And all you need to do to lose weight is to cleanse for 21 days and use the elliptical for thirty minutes…
And squats are bad for your knees…
And only guys lift…
There relies a responsibility on quality fitness professionals to seek out and destroy those who perpetuate incorrectness into the world for profit or fanfare. There is no space in the world for people who want to capitalize on the insecurities and ignorance of others.
Moreover, a responsibility lies upon the shoulders of those seeking information. Search for the qualifications of the individual publishing it. Don’t just trust the word of your friends and family because they are such. Your mother is a lovely lady, but unless she has an understanding of human anatomy and physiology she shouldn’t be telling you how to exercise.
Would you trust your doctor to fix your car? Or, better yet – would you trust your mechanic to do open heart surgery on someone you love?
Vet the source and ensure they are qualified. Don’t let showiness or a great body fool you either. Sadly, many fitness professionals are like street magicians – they only have a few good tricks and expect you to only pay attention long enough to pay them a little something.
There is not one singular cure all for the epidemic that Americans have found themselves in. A country built on the backs of hard labor, fueled by curiosity, and glued together by a genuine desire to live life to its fullest is on the brink.
An antiquated attitude must be modified. Technology must be mediated. Arrogance must dissipate, and Misinformation needs to be destroyed.
The meaning of the human existence is much more than just to eat, sleep, work and reproduce. We are meant to smile and laugh, cry and shout, and experience everything. Our feet are designed to move, and our legs allow us to run. Our arms can bend and our hands can grab. Life is the most perfectly organized choreography routine ever conceived.
We can taste the crispness of a tomato, and the sourness of a lemon. We can fish the deepest depths, and cultivate even the harshest of grounds. Much has been gained as humans have pushed forth into the world. Buildings touch the same sky that planes fly through. Mechanical vessels like planes, trains, and cars allow us to see the farthest points of the world and our imagination. Bridges cover the gaps that once separated us from each other.
And just as water can cut land into separate pieces – our modern lifestyle has cut the human spirit in half. Our desire for freedom pushed us to the place where that same freedom is willingly departed in favor of ease and enjoyment. Our desire to move has been replaced by a need for stability. Natural nomads have become statues in a world meant to be moved by the moving.
It is in the spirit still to seek change and adapt. Plagues, wars, and atrocities have yet to conquer the grit and ingenuity of the species. What is needed is time to unplug and contemplate. Plato could stare out at the sea as he pondered, as Hemingway observed the waiters in a bar in Madrid. Pens in hand they thought onto paper. Through those thoughts came revelations that shaped their lives, and the lives of many who came into touch with them.
What is the meaning of life?
It is to give unto the world your best effort to make it a better place than before your cells met its biosphere. It is to love and laugh, move and be moved. It is to see the world with your eyes and not your devices. It is to shake hands, share your heart, and shift the Earth below you has the waves can shift the sand.
We are to navigate with a curious intensity fitting of a child, the informed optimism of the young, and the sage wisdom of the old. Hands and feet - eyes and mind - heart and soul.