Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Living in the Land of the Unhealthy

During the past couple of weeks, I've seen so many news stories about poor health in the South, articles such as this one about obesity and diabetes rates. When lists of statistics come out regarding cancer rates, obesity and diabetes, the top 10 spots are overwhelmingly filled with southern states. These are the lists we don't want to be at the top of. But we are, and the causes are things we see from a young age. We see parents or other adults smoking or chewing tobacco; we deep fry anything that stands still long enough; and we consume way too many sugary sweets. We're the land of soft drinks, sweet tea and fried catfish -- the land of the unhealthy. I think this makes it even harder to commit to a healthy lifestyle. When you see everyone around you eating those yummy things that are, nevertheless, horrible for you, you feel left out.

Even views of exercise seem to be different here. Sure, people exercise, but it's not so obvious in the way communities are structured. For instance, I've been to Madison, Wisconsin, a few times to visit with my agent. I love it there because it is such a pedestrian-friendly city. There are paved paths and trails literally everywhere. You see people walking, jogging, biking and roller blading all over the city. In my subdivision, there are no sidewalks. I live on a cul de sac, but if I want to go walking around most of the neighborhood, I have to brave a short walk along a busy road (with no sidewalks, just drop-offs into deep ditches) to get to the main part of the subdivision where I can walk more easily. People who brave getting on their bikes here are honked at and the subject of much upset by those attached to their cars.

Some work is being done to create greenways around the city, but at this time it would take a drive to get to any access point. I got the feeling in Madison that you could hop on a trail with ease, like the city was a big wheel with many spokes shooting out from the center.

From my travels, I've noted that places like California and parts of Florida are better locales for those wanting to get into a healthy mindset, but I also know that we can't use the challenges as excuses. We have to just work a little harder and call on our willpower more to live the healthy lifestyle that will keep us out of those dismal statistics.

2 comments:

Michelle Butler on November 24, 2009 at 10:23 AM said...

Based on my experience, living in a pedestrian-friendly area can make a big difference. I lost 10 or so pounds when I moved to the DC area because I walk so much in my day-to-day life. I was also in better shape overall because of the walking. I never got back to my highest weight ever - attained when I lived and worked in TX and drove everywhere.

I do think you can figure out ways to incorporate more exercise or "activity" in your life if you think about it.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on November 24, 2009 at 11:05 AM said...

Totally true, Michelle. Living in a non-pedestrian-friendly area isn't an excuse for not getting exercise; there are still plenty of ways to do so. It's just that it's more challenging, and one has to be more dedicated to the healthier lifestyle.

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