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Monday, October 19, 2015

Not so small stuff.

When I notice the engineering and technical expertise that it took to tame the West, I go into culture shock. Goodness, I think, what serious work it was to build the Bonneville Damn, construct passages across mighty rivers, connect electrodes to a diseased heart and keep it working and ticking on time with a pacemaker. What did it take for all these things to come around and improve our life in so many ways?

My neighbors are living way beyond the age my parents reached when they died and I wonder what it was that has kept them alive for so long, what in their genes or lifestyles or luck produced a long living life. They didn't grow up without childhood diseases, without possibility of starvation or poisoning. Dietary guidelines weren't even on the horizon during most of their youth as well. A balanced diet, exercise, stress reduction are late comers to the scene. They probably all had measles and whooping cough.

When jogging came on the scene, and with it, running shoes, matching clothes, I was a new mother, juggling work, shopping, keeping the household running smoothly. I owned one pair of tennis shoes with flat soles that were thin and made of rubber that seemed to come apart in strips every time I actually tried to use them for tennis.. They were hot and flimsy for shopping; never mind using them on a hot asphalt in Southern California, where tennis courts and swimming were exercises I could have indulged in.

Ten years later, high heels at work began to give way to flat or semi-flat loafers and high priced running shoes with basketball heroes emblazoned all over the back heel were paraded everywhere, sign of status among high school students as well as their teachers. Ties disappeared from apparel at the same time. Sweat pants were seen everywhere, among joggers as well as on shopping mothers.

You'd think that with all that emphasis on exercise and all the ingenuity of medical devices for the last few decades, our health as a nation would have improved, and our lifestyles would be enhanced in so many ways.

Were we naive about the choices we made? Or the elimination of Home Economics and P.E from schools' curriculum kept us in the dark? Or the addition of so many fast foods and packaged snacks replacing old fashioned oatmeal and fresh fruit changed our taste?

Were these big or small decisions?

Were they even decisions? 

11 comments:

yaya said...

Most of the surgical procedures we do are because of poor lifestyle choices. Our foods are over processed, over sugared, and our activities are underwhelming. I can't believe how many people still smoke. People expect a pill or all that modern technology to fix them. Nothing beats good old fashion "eat less, move more" philosophy! Somewhere in our efforts to cure the world of every disease and bacteria we created super bugs who are outstmarting scientists and making drug companies rich and patients poor. Like my Momma always said.."a little dirt doesn't hurt!" I'm glad I grew up in a time where fast food was a treat, not a lifestyle!

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Interesting questions, Rosaria. In some ways, so much has improved and we're aware of so many more health hazards. Whether we choose a healthy lifestyle -- to avoid the processed food we know is bad for us, to eat more fruit and vegetables, to get daily exercise -- is yet another matter. I'm with you on bemoaning the fact that PE seems largely absent from schools at a time when obesity is pandemic among adolescents. Studies show that physical exercise helps to counteract the emotional damage of being bullied or otherwise having a tough adolescence. And yet, the chances to be active are fewer at school and so many pastimes now are electronic and sedentary. It's worrisome.

I was struck today by a young woman working for my audiologist. She was massively obese, had a jumbo size soda on her desk, yet she was so fussy about germs that she opened doors holding a tissue in her hand. I think at times we all worry about the wrong things and don't pay enough attention to what will help us to live longer, healthier lives.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosaria ... I think the simple foods we ate between the wars, and after the wars were much better for us - than stuff that's been chemically altered, or factory altered. We're also lucky to live in an age when we can get help ...

A positive attitude, a determination to get on with life all help and to have a focus ...

Cheers - we are lucky, some not so - their decisions or those made for them weren't so helpful ... but being happy and being prepared to sort things out ourselves eases our way - take care - Hilary

the walking man said...

Not conscious decision, Madison Ave. manipulated, uninformed decisions maybe. Then Dr. Spock came along and taught a whole generation of guru's how to make money by writing ten million conflicting self help books, some followed religiously without the desired results; enter deflation of spirit.

You aged neighbors, I am willing to bet simply did what they thought was right for them, uninfluenced by what anyone else told them was right.

Tom Sightings said...

Isn't it ironic that as medical science has improved, our personal habits have become more self-destructive? We are fatter. And despite all the fashionable sports equipment, most of us are more sedentary. However, we have given up smoking, and a lot of us are committing to better nutrition and more exercise. So it's a mixed picture. I read recently that, on average, we can expect to live about 4 years longer than our parents, altho' due to our bad habits we will not necessarily be less disabled. Anyway, I'm going out for a walk. But, please ... not the cleanse!

Amanda Summer said...

Decisions made by people whose job it is to make money. Agree with the walking man.

The Broad said...

I think your final question hits the nail on the head. Things 'happened' to us without our knowing to think about them. Choices have been made that seem harmless. We let our lives go to others who are not considering what is 'good' or what is 'best', but what is profitable -- and because it seems to be making our lives easier, we acquiesce, we accept and we stop thinking.

Tabor said...

Evolution does not usually involve conscious decisions. It is random popularity of things and we accept and do not question until we notice the unwinding of important stuff. Then we begin to question the technology. Then, sometimes, it is too late.

Retired English Teacher said...

I don't know if we were naive, or in my case if we were lazy when it came to making personal choice that affected my health in negative ways. Losing sight of what is important in life may be part of the problem. We got busy chasing the almighty dollar and buying everything that was sold to us even though we might have rejected mass production when we were younger and wiser.
I speak for myself when I say these things.

I do wonder how education stopped being an endeavor meant for loftier goals than meeting government directives. We have lost our souls in so many areas of life. We live long soulless lives.

A Cuban In London said...

I do think there's a certain naivete in human beings. We believe that whatever we have now will last forever and we're not too concerned about the future.

Greetings from London.

Maggie May said...

Its all to do with money, isn't it? Fast foods seemed appealing after war rationing etc.
The Powers That be, don't seem too interested in our health and we take the appealing options when we're young, not really seeing the *big picture* at all.
We take things for granted and the young don't think that the future is really relevant. Its all about the here and now.
Maggie x