Friday, 7 January 2011

Inspiration, Obesity and Making a Difference

I've been inspired!

How?  Why?  What?

Being a weekend, a time that I normally enjoy spending with my kids, I came across a video presentation by Jamie Oliver that he gave during the TED conference in 2010 (Click Here for Video).  This man is as old as me and has been working hit butt off to make a difference.

In his 20 minute presentation, Oliver spoke of a topic that seems to hit everyone's heart strings and that is the health of our kids, our family, our community and ourselves.  At the heart of it was the effects of obesity.  Obesity is nothing new but it was shocking to see how naive some people were.

To sit and watch a video of how much junk food an American family was stuffing themselves with every week because they didn't cook at home or to see how much sugar is in the chocolate milk our kids drink, shows how we can take responsibility for the situation.

As difficult and complicated as we make it seem, the answer is simple.  It comes down to basic education.  The more we educate ourselves, our kids, our families and our communities, the quicker they will realize how things can improve.

I can see and feel the change happening already.  What Oliver rightly points out in his presentation is that there has been a couple of generations where the value on diet and exercise was diminished and a lot of the illnesses we see today started persisting.  Coincidentally, about ten days ago, while day-dreaming, I sort of realized the same thing as well.  Our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents probably didn't realize the harm the food they were eating was doing to them or that the lack of exercise they had was inviting all the health problems they ended up suffering.  Being of Indian origin, I know I've seen more share of fried foods, oil and spices to see how bad the Indian diet can be.  I've also seen the culture of the afternoon siesta after a heavy meal that is and used to be much more prevalent in the Gulf.

In my generation though, I've seen most of us have mid-way through this period, learned and realized we need to change our lifestyle.  More of us have in the last decade or so started improving our dietary habits and started going to the gym or doing yoga, etc.  We can't change what we may have done in the last 20-30  years or so to our bodies but at least going forward we can ensure we look after it better.

The generation that follows us will and should be better informed than us.  The right diet should be a part of their upbringing.  Getting enough exercise should be part of their regime.  Educating themselves and those around them will come more naturally to them.  All this can happen and will happen provided we do our bit now to set them right.

In the presentation that Jamie Oliver gave, it is shocking to see how many kids in an elementary school didn't even recognize vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, eggplant, etc.   I know my older daughter knows her fruits and vegetables quite well from all her trips to the supermarket with me.  She's been learning about the benefits of these fruits and vegetables at home and in school.  I can only hope she stays concious and aware of this for all her life.

Education ain't difficult.  It is small steps to moving to the right path that can take you a long way.  I am by no means fit but I am fitter than I used to be.  If being fitter means I've added a couple of years onto my life expectancy or reduced partially my chances of getting a health condition, then I'm that much better off.  The same should be what we teach those who we care for.  It is intimidating to step into a gym if you are obese.  I know it.  I've gone through it.  However, you realize, once you start, there isn't any laughing or snickering behind your back.  We're all in it together and rather those who see you, appreciate the fact that you've started and you're trying.

There is no other sense of motivation other than self-motivation that can make you change yourself.  Don't force change onto people, let them realize what they're doing and the biggest satisfaction you can get is when you see them driving a change in themselves.

I know this post has seen a lot of me rambling on but if you're passionate about something, you tend to do that.

Take care, be good and make a difference!