by Mary Collette Rogers
People always kid me about reading month-old newspapers and magazines. I say it’s a great way to get an historical perspective on things! With that in mind, may I report on something from clear back in November: Preventionmagazine interviewed both Arthur Agatston, MD (of South Beach Diet fame) and Andrew Weil, MD, pioneer in the use of integrative medicine. These health and wellness giants were asked about their own personal prescription for wellness. Here’s what surprised me:
1. First, that their personal regimens are so similar and simple: Eating well, supplementing only modestly, getting plenty of sleep and exercising regularly are primary pillars for both. In addition, Agatston believes in moderate indulgences (chocolate being his favorite) and he cultivates strong family and friend relationships. Weil grows a lot of his own food and takes a mixture of Asian mushrooms for immune support.
2. Secondly, it was interesting to see that their regimens were, really, pretty unremarkable. “Eat right, get plenty of rest and exercise regularly.” We’ve only heard that mantra a thousand times over the last 30 years! Shouldn’t good health require something more sophisticated, like intense knowledge about different foods, nutritional facts, statistics, and research studies? Apparently not. Both these men are enjoying wonderful health by following a routine so simple that any ordinary Joe Blow could do it. For dinner, as an example, both men typically eat fish or chicken with veggies. How hard is that?
3. That brings me to a third surprise in reading these interviews: Both experts could be so candid about their personal habits, since they actually practiced what they preached. They could show as well as tell.
This final thought got me thinking about leadership in the healthy eating area. Who else is “out there,” showing us how to live a balanced, healthful lifestyle, even though practically every aspect of our culture militates against it? Who are our leaders when it comes to living healthfully?
I thought about our business leaders, political leaders, spiritual leaders, celebrities, sports figures, non-profit leaders. Very few, even among those debating health care reform, qualify as role models for the balanced lifestyle that leads to optimal wellness.
This was the final surprise I got from the Preventioninterviews: Even though everything we do rests on a foundation of good health, we have a glaring dearth of leadership and role modeling when it comes to wellness living. Weil and Agatston are remarkable not because of some special formula they possess but because they are two of sadly small group of visible role models in the healthy lifestyle area.
Where does this leave the rest of us? Are we just doomed to wander, aimless and leader-less in the fast food deserts? It might be tempting to foist this deficit at the feet of our leaders, as one more thing for “them” to fix while we continue buying cookie packs from the vending machines at work. But maybe not so fast.
It may be a while before those in formal leadership roles become healthy lifestyle leaders. In the meantime, and before we kick over from heart attacks, why not head back to the grassroots and take some action? It may seem like “nobody looks up to little old me,” but in reality, anybody could be the spark that gets the fire started. Put yourself on a pedestal, honor every good choice you make and vow to be more like that person! That kind of crazy behavior can start a wild fire.
That means we’re all potential good eating leaders, especially parents since the way we eat is one of the biggest determinants of how our children eat. So skip the cookies in the vending machine. People are watching and waiting for leadership, even from little old me and you.
What if, day after day, people saw you eating nuts and dried fruit for a snack? What if you started bringing a lunch of healthy dinner leftovers instead of heading to the food court for pizza? What if you hosted a salad potluck instead of a dessert potluck for your monthly book club? What if your boss took your suggestion to ditch Friday donuts for a once-a-month healthy sandwich bar? What if your kids stopped bringing sodas to school and just drank water? What if you order the dish with lots of vegetables when taking clients dinner?
We all touch countless lives. What better gift can we bring to those encounters than a quiet testament to the beauty, joy and health-giving richness of real foods? I just read about a new documentary called Food Fight. It’s subtitle: Revolution Never Tasted So Good. As with all revolutions, this delicious revolution is happening from the ground up—enjoy every minute of it!
Author of Take Control of Your Kitchen, Mary Collette Rogers is a recovered commercial attorney who has found her true calling inspiring and empowering women to create good everyday meals. Her creative kitchen coaching makes it easy to prepare meals that nurture moms, connect families, build community and ultimately, create a healthy planet. Read more about creating a new kitchen culture at her blog: everydaygoodeating.wordpress.com and at her website: EverydayGoodEating.com.