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THE LEARNED BEHAVIOR: We need to change that!

Updated: Mar 24, 2022

One of my biggest pet peeves is folks who complain about their situation but do little to fix it. I'm of the camp that says to only complain if you are doing everything in your power to improve yourself and you are not getting the results you want. Otherwise, save it. With that said, the empathic side of my ego understands that excuses are built into our culture. Like moving a house, it can be very difficult to change your culture.

The modern pattern of excuses started to post WWII when there was a huge explosion in both industrial and personal or household efficiency including artificial flavor additives. Let's take for example the flavor additive MSG (monosodium glutamate).

You probably don't get how MSG can force you into an excuse.

The reason is simple; since processed foods do not inherently taste as good as real, fresh, home-cooked food we invented a way to "trick" your body into accepting the food. If you had a veggie burger without MSG you would not be able to choke down even one bite. Unflavored textured vegetable protein (typical veggie burger) tastes like cardboard dipped in rancid milk, MSG tells your brain (the ultimate destination of the taste buds) that the food is wholesome and savory. So, you accept this food choice even though it is far inferior compared to grass-fed beef or free-range turkey burger.

What the heck does all this have to do with me, you ask? Everything. To be a healthy, happy person well into your 80s and 90s, your belief system has to be balanced between innate behavior (i.e making things easier for us or our children) while not losing health along the way and doing what we should do. Your belief system is what you have been programmed to accept as truth based on your life experience.

A large portion is actually anti-health and disease-causing, but most don't know this because it's been a learned behavior. Check out this truth: if you eat or do something on a regular basis, you accept it as healthy. You can sign a notarized affidavit stating you know French fries are bad for you. Then why do you eat them several times a week with lunch?

Most of you will deny this tooth and nail, but think about it... you would not intentionally harm yourself, right? So anything you do regularly MUST therefore be seen as beneficial. Except for cases of extreme depression or psychosis, we are physically not able to knowingly hurt ourselves.

Further "everything in moderation" dogma adds to the excuse pool that's been spewed out for the last couple of decades. Well, folks ALREADY ate most foods or food groups in moderation. I don't know too many people that eat fast food three times a day like "Morgan Spurlock" in "Super Size Me".

Or, have ice cream every day for their post-workout recovery. We already ate things in moderation, with some exceptions of course. This misleading tenant of our society leads to moderate cases of diabetes and heart disease. Moderation is too vague and is music to the food industry's ears.

Getting practical, the biggest excuse I hear is that "I just don't have time to cook at home." Really? You make time to go shopping for a couple of hours every week and stock your pantry with chips; you make time to call the pizza delivery guy and wait for 30 to 45 minutes for it to arrive; you make time to watch a favorite TV show, and you make time to get to all 47 of your kids' activities.

This is called a diversion of energy. We all have the same hours in the day and about the same amount of physical energy (actually, those that make time to train regularly have MORE energy, but that's another article). You can choose to spend your time and energy where you see fit. But you MUST then be okay with the consequences. Maybe it's time to prioritize a bit. I have kids and a busy schedule, too, so I know precisely what you are trying to do; give yourself or your kids more. I'm on your side - the same team here. But do they have to do year around AAU travel basketball? Can you maybe DVR the Tv show and watch it on the weekends?

I get it. You can't possibly carve out any more time. I agree! Therefore, instead of relying on convenience foods to get you and your family through, you have to displace an activity or two that just isn't that important. After all, without health what do you really have? Sickness and pain is the answer. Like our financially irresponsible congress, poor food choices are leveraging you and your family's future. Sure the body will withstand years of abuse but you will have created a debt that is very difficult to pay back. There are no "bail-outs" for cancer.

I am not arguing to find more time; I'm simply holding up a mirror asking you to use your time more wisely. Trust me; your kids will be healthy, happy, and productive members of society even if they cannot do every sport their school offers. Or, have the latest iPhone which causes you to spend less time with your family because you have to work more to pay for it.

In fact, they might just be better off at home with you teaching them how to prepare a proper meal. You will have broken the cycle. Your kids will then change their culture and prioritize health over certain activities they can live without. You can't buy this on special at Target. You must find a way to make time for things you know you should be doing.

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