One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

ELAINES CORNER

Elaine’s Corner: Our Environment

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Thanks to Elaine I get the night off. I’ll be back tomorrow. :)

If you are new to Elaine’s series, click here and scroll down to start at the beginning.

Now that we’ve taken five weeks to look introspectively at our own personal motivations and goals, it’s time to take a look at the environment that we live in – the public health implications of obesity, food problems, and lack of exercise in contemporary American culture. Scientists know now that about 50% of our health comes from our environment and behaviors – where we live, how we eat, and our habits related to smoking, drinking, and exercising. 50%!! That is a staggering number! Great genetics and great doctors and the best hospitals have nothing on environment and behavior! We’ve focused on behavioral and goal setting for five weeks, so let’s take a pause to look at environment.

I remember the day another new McDonald’s opened down the street from me. It was now directly on my commute to and from work, as opposed to the other McDonald’s, which was about a mile out of the way. I have no doubt that I drank more iced coffee slathered with cream and ate more McDoubles those first few months than I had before. The environment had changed, and my behavior had changed accordingly. I would argue that the average American consumer is abused with the amount of food input we receive at every turn – restaurants on every corner, no time for cooking dinner after work, candy bars at the gas station, happy hours after work, and most socialization involving food. It’s a constant onslaught of information to our brains to eat, eat, eat….and it’s creating a public health crisis.

However, not all is lost. New York recently began posting nutritional information on all menus in restaurants, trans fats are now listed on nutritional facts, shows like the Biggest Loser promote a healthy weight image, and Dove has a healthy woman campaign that shuns photoshopping. Cities recognize that parks and walking trails mean fewer heavy children and happier families. In my home state of Oklahoma, the University of Oklahoma is piloting a progressive initiative to identify children with obesity and provide free nutritional counseling to the entire family.

Public health is a collection of everyone’s actions. For me, that means telling myself my mantra of “I will not stop!” as I pass McDonald’s and surrounding myself with great input from reading healthy blogs like Roni’s Weigh. It means owning two dogs because I know it forces me to walk more. It means suggesting a meeting at 11am instead of noon so that I don’t feel pressured to eat with my co-workers. By modifying my environment, I can support my own healthy behaviors. What actions are you taking to positively impact your environment, and your behaviors? Let me know in the comments!



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Discussion

There are 13 comments so far.

    CarolineC

    October 13, 2010

    I made the choice three years ago to start walking my kids to school every day. That’s 2.2 miles of exercise out of the way first thing! I also have a very active dog that loves to be walked. We take a family walk after dinner every night (about 1.5 miles). I think I’ve also helped mold my environment by being open and honest about my weight loss, sharing it on my blog. I surround myself with a health-conscious community, as much as I am able. I think by sharing my story and keeping it out there, I am motivating others and keeping myself motivated. Healthy living really has become a central aspect of our family life.

    Amilja

    October 13, 2010

    I have made the choice to take stairs instead of elevators whenever it is possible. I also have started to tell myself not to stop by some stores when I am hungry because there is a big possibility I would buy something unhealthy and out of a plan. Instead, I try to go straight to home and have a healthy meal or a snack.

    MaryB

    October 14, 2010

    I try to stay away from anything with more than 5 ingredients, especially those I can’t pronounce.
    I am enjoying your series. Thanks for the good info!

    Jessica

    October 14, 2010

    AH! I could not agree with you more! We ARE being abused! What’s more aggravating is that few people are willing to take responsibility for their own health, choosing to sue Mc Donalds because their children are getting fat and unhealthy. Mc D’s was a TREAT for me, growing up, NOT part of Mom’s menu!

    shanilie

    October 14, 2010

    It sure is all about choices. I made a choice last night to not have mashed potatoes or rice and a third side dish to my meal and I didn’t even miss it!

    Lori

    October 14, 2010

    I choose to keep healthy snacks in my house and keep out the items that I know I will go overbaord on. I also choose to explain to my children about healthy food choices and a balanced diet. I also explain to them the difference between snacks and treats. In teaching them I am reminding myself. It’s a win win.

    Julie

    October 14, 2010

    Elaine, I am a follower of Roni or a lurcher as I guess she would say. I have also really enjoyed your Wednesday addition and was wondering if you have your own blog that I could start to follow as well?

    Amy

    October 14, 2010

    I agree that we have to take responsibility for our own choices, but what I liked about this post is to just recognize how hard our larger culture makes it for us! Believe it or not, in some countries, cucumbers are easier and cheaper to munch on than french fries! Here, it feels like everything that is easy and convenient is bad for you, and it takes effort to bypass the drive-thru and go to the grocery store. Wouldn’t it be great to live in a world where you could get drive-thru fresh produce snacks, but donuts and french fries were hard to come by, and therefore you only could have them as a special treat? Sure, I make my own choices, but it’s harder than it needs to be because of how we live. It would help so much to restructure the farm subsidies so that there could be real financial incentives to make healthy foods cheap and available!

    Kirsten

    October 14, 2010

    I have incorporated healthy eating and menu planning into my daily and weekly activities to avoid temptations and impulse eating. I also walk 5 miles home every Friday and then catch the metro the rest of the way home. I have rallied up a group of co-workers who have been joining me on my Friday walks. It’s amazing how healthy habits have become so contagious!

    s

    October 14, 2010

    i walk to work in the mornings. also although i try not to hit the vending machines for snacks at work i made it a point to know where they are and avoid them (most of the time). i know that sounds weird, but it works for me.

    Robyn

    October 14, 2010

    Like your situation, I have many fast food options on my way to school and work, but I also have many different paths I can take. Aside from the fact that I notoriously wake up late and don’t really have time to stop anywhere, I always choose the path which is less convenient to indulge. The last few years have been a lot easier for me resist fast food, mainly because I don’t like the way I feel afterwards. Working in a restaurant, however, does make it very hard. My environment is very tempting, especially watching everyone’s food go out, knowing that I get a discount and some free things as well. So my solution is to keep my wallet in the car! haha

    Stacy

    October 14, 2010

    I amde a decision last February that I was going to start working my tale off to lose weight where I could atleast make my knees comfortable. I am proud to say that after 8 short months I am now carrying around 60 less pounds! Please keep up your blog here because this is so inspirational.

    Elaine Huckabay

    October 15, 2010

    Julie,
    There is no greater compliment than asking if I have my own blog. I do wish that I did and I have entertained the idea in the past because I love writing so much. However, blogging is a fulltime job and I already have one of those :) Roni and I might be able to work out something where we have a continual Elaine’s Corner though…stay posted!