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America’s (un)fittest cities

Today, I read online the Top 5 fittest and sluggish cities in America. The top 5 fittest were not too surprising, including Washington D.C., Boston, and Seattle. But what did shock me was #5 on the most sluggish list…Louisville, KY.

(Image Source)

The list, which is put together by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) American Fitness Index, shows that Louisville actually got worse from 2009 to 2010, dropping from 38th down to 46th in the rankings of the 50 largest metro areas and their health stats, including “preventive health behaviors, levels of chronic disease conditions, health care access, and community resources and policies that support physical activity.”

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. I actually still have to do a double take when I see someone out walking or riding a bike, unless it’s right next to a park. But it just makes me sad since I live here and I do make fitness such a priority for me, in my own life. But I used to be unhealthy and sluggish myself. So I guess I fit in more in my hometown back then.

xmas2005(Me and Josh, Christmas 2005)

xmas2009  (Happier and healthier, Christmas 2009)

However, I sort of feel like it’s a sign. I’ve long been interested in a career in the health and fitness field (which I am now going to school for) and what better place to use that interest to promote fitness in such a sluggish place?

There are already some local efforts going on today, like the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown movement and a city-wide weight loss program called Lose It! Louisville.

And I do have hope that some day, Louisville will be fitter and hopefully lose their place on the “sluggish” list for good! I hope I can be a part of that.

How does your city rank? Check out the original article here and the full list of 50 here.

The philosophy of Mark Bittman

I just read this really great article on Runner’s World – Simply Good by Mark Bittman

Bittman is the author of two books you’ve most likely heard of: “How to Cook Everything” and “Food Matters”. In this article, he details his struggle with excessive eating which came as a result of excessive running and the never-ending hunger that comes along with that. This caught my attention immediately as this is something I have struggled with in the past.

He also talks about how after gaining weight, being diagnosed with sleep apnea and other potentially serious health issues, he decided it was time to change his diet. He was eating too many animal products (especially meat) and processed foods and not enough of the good stuff (fruits and vegetables).

“…like many runners, I felt that I ran enough to compensate for overeating, and that running would make me immune to the middle-aged paunch and all the lifestyle syndromes, diseases, and problems that come with it. Wrong…”

Eventually, Bitman chose to reduce his consumption of animal products and processed foods, epecially after reading some alarming statistics about the health of Americans, global warming, overfishing, and other social issues that meat and processed foods-eating contributes to.

“When I turned my attention to vegetables, I realized they made a better core to my diet than animal products: They’re simple, flavorful, affordable, easily varied and cooked, and unquestionably healthy…”

This really resonated with me because that is EXACTLY why I am working on developing this vegan diet for myself. Vegetables (and some fruits) make so much sense to me. Meat doesn’t and I don’t really like it. I also don’t like the way dairy makes me feel or the potential hormones that come along with it, unless you buy organic. Processed foods are not only unhealthy, they are expensive.

I’m also interested in seeing how this new way of eating affects my running. I haven’t ran more than 3 miles since April but eventually I would like to get to where 5 was comfortable and perhaps even build up to another half marathon someday. I used to think that was impossible but I just have to remind myself that I did it once, I can do it again. I also eat a whole lot better now than I did then (when I relied on too many processed carbs, sugar, etc.), so who knows?

I’m certainly inspired by Mr. Bittman and his determination to eat healthy and keep running:

“Yes, I’m more determined than I’ve been in a long time, but that determination comes from having taken control of my diet and, as a result, the basic shape of my body. Unquestionably, eating sanely has rejuvenated my running, made me more youthful, and helped me feel, well, simply good.”

“To me, running and cooking are both uncomplicated and essential pleasures that can be enjoyed with minimum equipment and time.”

Amen.

Small changes

I just read this article on CNN Health that I thought you all might be interested in:

Farmer’s markets bloom at hospitals

I am always inspired by articles such as this one because it shows that little by little, the world is (hopefully) striving to be a healthier place! These small changes being made today will add up. My hope and prayer is that when my children are my age, they will see a whole new (better) world when it comes to health. All too often we hear stories of unhealthy things, like disease and death, not to mention other forms of negativity in the media. This was refreshing!

Farmer’s markets are becoming more and more popular and popping up in new places all the time. I’m hoping to get to a few near me this summer. It makes total sense to have one at a hospital, where people go to be treated for various ailments. Now they can pick up something toward their good health while they are there :) Not to mention the workers and visitors.

What about you? Have you heard or read something recently, health-related, that inspired you or gave you hope?

Happy Thursday, its ALMOST Friday!

p.s. Looks like Starbucks is making some changes too…hooray for the banishment of HFCS!

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Check out the Sunshine Burgers giveaway over at Keep it Simple, yay!

Hollywood likes numbers

Since this is my challenging week (plus) of no longer weighing myself, imagine my surprise when I see this article on People.com:

Melissa Joan Hart Reveals Her Bikini Body

Melissa (I still think of her as Clarissa), according to the article, has lost 42 lbs, down from 155 to 113. Now to me that seemed awfully low, but she is 5’2″ with a small frame (or so I tell myself). The point is that articles like this place a lot of emphasis on the numbers. When we see SHOCKING stories of celebrities’ weight gains or losses, its almost always matched with how much. I suppose in some ways, its Hollywood’s and the magazines’ need for those precise numbers to draw people into their stories, but also perhaps its for us because lots of us here in America are focused on numbers.

I would’ve enjoyed this article more if it had simple kept the title (which was fine) and mentioned in the article that she has lost weight (and reached her goal) from healthy eating and exercise, and NOT mention how many pounds or how long it took (although I do think her 14-month program is very realistic). I believe this puts pressure on a lot of people who will compare themselves and feel they don’t match up or they aren’t doing as well as the person in the article. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t do that once in a while.

That being said, Melissa is a breath of fresh air after seeing so many of these “get thin quick after having a baby…” celebrity stories.

But, at the end of the day, how a person feels about him or herself should come from within and hopefully the future generations will grow up being taught to love their bodies for its uniqueness and not compare it to others because we were all made differently.

What do you guys think? Should a person’s weight (in numbers) be kept private?

See Danica Eat

I just read this article about Indy race car driver (the only female one!) Danica Patrick. She is on the newest issue of Shape magazine, which I’m sure I will be getting in the mail soon.

Danica Patrick Reveals Her Turbocharged Diet

Sometimes I read these articles and roll my eyes at what celebrities eat, but hers makes a lot of sense and it seems to be pretty healthy with not a lot of processed foods. I love how she says she gets hungry every three hours, that’s so me :)

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