Thursday, July 28, 2011

Have we lost it?

will·pow·er /ˈwɪlˌpawɚ/ noun

[noncount] : the ability to control yourself : strong determination that allows you to do something difficult (such as to lose weight or quit smoking)

As a nation, have we lost our willpower?

I wonder if the answer is yes....

I was watching a documentary about food and dieting this morning, while I was on the treadmill. I've found it to be a huge motivator for me: watching things like that while I'm working out. Even if the science isn't perfect, or if it's definitely a slanted/one-side presentation, for some reason, watching a food-related movie inspires me to be healthier, which then makes it easier to work out. Even if I don't agree with the methods or the helps me to focus on what my goals are for working out. (on a side note, Netflix instant streaming is a GREAT investment!!)

Today's documentary was about a man who had a bit of a "epiphany" about the way his health was going. He was on what he considered to be too many medications, was too overweight, and recognized his poor habits (overeating, eating fast food, not active enough, etc). He had one of those "ah-ha!" moments and vowed to change the way he was headed.

(disclaimer: I'm not sure I believe that his next step, or weightloss methods were the safest, so this is in NO WAY an endorsement)

Anywho, he decided to make a HUGE change, and film it along the way. He spent the next two months, traveling across the US, interviewing people about their eating habits and overall health, and ingesting nothing but juices made from fresh fruits and veggies. He drank three meals a day for the next 60 days, and all of those meals were prepared by him with a juicer, from fresh fruit/veggie that he'd purchased locally.

I'm only about 30 minutes into the movie, so I don't know how his overall health changed and/or if he stuck with it. I'll update you guys in a few days when I finish the movie. What struck me, though, and what is the reason for this blog post, were the interviews with people "on the streets."

He walked around cities all across the country, asking people about their own eating habits. Did they eat fast food? How much? Did they eat veggies and fruits? "Describe your typical meal..." kind of stuff. Many - probably about half - were overweight. Many admitted to eating a lot of fast-food type meals: burgers, fries, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, pizza, etc. Some actually used fast food restaurant names, but most just answered the questions with the food item, so I'm not sure if these were homemade pizzas or ones from Pizza Hut. The overall "theme" of these questions seemed to point out that Americans do not eat fruits and veggies, and if they did, it was (as one person put it) "in moderation."

When asked who was responsible for not eating veggies and fruits, but eating fast food, every.single.person on film answered, "Well, I am." Every single person took the blame for their poor eating habits - not blaming it on school lunches, addictive ingredients, the government, etc.

He then asked them, "If I challenged you to eat a set number of fruits and vegetables daily, would you do it?"

Every single person answered "no."

Their reason for not accepting the challenge? Almost every person answered with "I don't have enough willpower." (one young girl answered, "because I'm 16." which kind of cracked me up).

This struck me. I'm currently reading another book that talks about faith in the US, and how we, as a nation, have lost respect for discipline. Not discipline as in punishing children, but discipline as self-control. We, as a whole, this author argues, have lost a positive understanding of self-control and discipline, and therefore, we've become entitled and lazy. Immediately after this scene on the movie, I recalled the author's discussion of discipline. To me, they go hand-in-hand. It seems that if we don't view discipline as a positive attribute......we will never have the "will-power" to change our lives. Being disciplined, or to have will-power(in regards to health), can only happen when you have given your body and health a sense of worth - you value your body and health enough to stay committed to improving it.

It seems to me, it's not that these people have no will-power or's that they have lost the value of health. Their body is not worth anything to them.

Has it become culturally acceptable to "demote" our bodies and our health to the bottom of the list? Is that why our society (*disclaimer* based on the interviews in this movie) has lost it's will-power?

If so, why is that? How did it happen?

What are your thoughts?

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