I have often observed the do-or-die nature of our society. ‘It’s all or nothing!’ ‘Go big, or go home!’ ‘Work hard and play hard(er)!’ And this is even prevalent in what we consume. Whether it be food, clothes, cars, houses – the bigger/more expensive, the better.
Take food for example. When you go to a typical American restaurant, the portion sizes are out of control. I spent 4 years working at one of the busiest Cheesecake Factory Restaurants in the country. While I waited tables while working on my undergrad, I was amazed at how big the portion sizes were. And on many occasions, I witnessed guests eat an entire chicken and biscuits entree (2260 calories) and an entire slice of carrot cake (1550 calories) in one sitting. Now, I know I don’t have to even mention that these two items alone will almost double a person’s caloric intake for the day.
And nowadays, many people are smartening up when it comes to diet – thank goodness. Many Americans that are, or have been obese because of poor eating habits have turned into strict vegans. It’s a great way to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, and serum cholesterol levels. This is another example of the extremes we tend to do in this country – eat a fat-laden diet for years, and then become vegan.
[As a disclaimer, I am not talking smack about being vegan. I think that if that type of a diet works well for you, and you have the blood work to prove it, then that’s awesome. I have a ton of vegan friends that are vegan for moral reasons, and they are some of the healthiest people I know. But I am not vegan. I tried to be a vegetarian, and it was not for me. I operate best with eating about a 4oz serving of animal protein a day.]
It’s the extremes that are of concern. When it comes to food, suddenly becoming vegan can certainly help with losing weight. Especially coming from a diet that was heavy in animal products. But in terms of vitamin and mineral intake, the differences in what you are receiving may be shockingly different. That is why easing yourself into strict diet change such as Atkins to Veganism is one that should be done in a controlled, monitored manner. Some people will feel amazing as soon as they make the dietary change. It is in the long run that is where the potential damage can occur. But that is for a whole other blog topic.
Another area where us Americans do these extreme changes with exercise. A person who hasn’t exercised in years and that is a bit overweight – will take up a regular Bikram yoga practice/ or an Insanity work out program. Needeless to say that this usually results in injuries. Pushing your body beyond its limits – especially in an artificially heated environment – usually ends up badly. If you were to ease into exercising, making sure you stretch properly – every day – before taking on a regular Bikram practice would be really smart. And also replacing your system with a bunch of electrolytes after practice is very important – another blog topic 🙂
But sometimes, being smart isn’t what many Americans are thinking. It’s the results that we’re after. But as the saying goes, ‘Slow and steady wins the race’, is the more appropriate approach when it comes to health.
In Chinese Medicine, we are all about balance. Take the Tai Ji Tu for example:
Here, you can see a representation of Yin (black) and Yang (white). Within yang, there is yin and vice versa. This is where balance comes from. It comes from the two extremes interplaying. Balance is waking up early, because you went to bed at a decent hour. Not going to bed at 1am and waking at 6am. Balance is drinking a freshly pressed 8oz juice and eating soup. Balance is going for a jog in the morning, and a yin yoga class in the evening. When it comes to health, this is what we should strive for. Not ONLY eating veggies or ONLY doing hot yoga, but a combination of many things in order to create balance.
To read more on the nutritional effects of eating vegan click here: