While running an (essential) errand the other morning around 9am, I drove past a fast-food restaurant and I won’t tell you which one it was but there were arches and it was McDonalds. I did a double-take when I noticed that the drive-thru line was all the way around the building and into the lot next to it. The eternal optimist in me wants to believe every single one of those people were getting coffee because McCafe is actually one of the more tasty options on the fast-food-chain black market. See what I did there? Black coffee? Never mind.
The realist in me, however, is fairly convinced that most of those cars drove away with piles of McHashBrowns, McSyrup on McPancakes, McEggSandwiches and probably some McSugaryFrappacinos to wash it all down.
It’s what we do. Even in this new world where we’re asked to stay home unless completely necessary and support the mom-and-pop businesses whenever possible, we’re bumper-to-bumpering the drive-thru at McDonalds. Why? Because it’s easier.
It’s easier to drive through and grab a cheeseburger than it is to call a local sandwich shop and order something healthy for curbside pickup. It’s easier to go with the quick option than take the time learning how to make something. It’s easier to be sedentary than active. It’s easier to skip the workout than to turn off Tiger King.
It’s easier to take your chances on a worldwide pandemic that is KILLING unhealthy people than it is to take ownership over your survival chances.
Whoa. That escalated quickly.
The first article I saw about this topic was called The Elephant in the Room. Between then and now, I’ve seen several others. Yesterday it was an article called, You can’t control the virus but you can control the host. All of them are centered around the same idea: The people most susceptible to COVID-19 are those in poor health.
We’re hearing over and over, “Those with compromised immune systems” and “the elderly” but what very few people are saying is obesity and the related lack of overall wellness is killing people.
For a small percentage of the population who grew up being active, and then continued that lifestyle all through college and beyond, wellness is a way of life. For everyone else (myself included), wellness is a choice. And not an easy one.
Actually, wellness is a series of choices every day that add up to a lifelong journey. What if we looked at every decision as a pivotal point for the remainder of our journey?
Here’s a fictional example: Sally is a fairly healthy 30-something who enjoys partaking in a pitcher of margs on Taco Tuesdays and would like to improve her overall health so that she looks better naked. Sally joined a CrossFit gym because her friends have seen great results from CrossFit. She was planning to start “next Monday.”
Now let’s say that on the Thursday prior, the WHO announced a worldwide pandemic, shutting down gyms and forcing Sally to make a decision: She could be Sad Sally, crying out, “Oh well, looks like the universe doesn’t want me to get healthy!” and wait to start after things return to “normal,” or she could be Super Sally, starting her fitness plan anyway, consulting with her new gym about options and getting a six-to-eight-week head start at home on the goals she would’ve otherwise put off.
Sad Sally drives to McDonalds for breakfast. She then spends the rest of the day feeling guilty about her decision and stress eats everything in the pantry. She doesn’t even feel up to going for a walk with her dog, Sad Sammy. Lots of Sally’s decisions come from a place of ‘What’s the difference?’ because it was EASIER to make the decisions she started with.
On the other hand, Super Sally is starting her at-home fitness program. She knows that no matter how slowly she starts, she’s still lapping everyone on the couch. She takes it slowly but makes steady progress, trusting the process each day and enjoying the fact that her body is healthy enough to just breathe and move. She also knows that proper fuel is important for her workouts so even though it’s HARDER to learn how to prepare these meals, she makes the effort. And on the days she might not feel like cooking, she looks for local places that offer healthy options and she picks up food curbside.
If we visualize the trajectory of the two different paths Sad Sally and Super Sally are on, we can see how one decision today can impact a lifetime worth of decisions. What if what you did today in quarantine affected the next ten years of your life? What if decisions you made today affected your body’s ability to handle the next worldwide pandemic? Do these decisions guarantee your immunity? Absolutely not. But statistically speaking, the odds may be ever in your favor.
Unfortunately, you don’t get to choose if you’ll come into contact with COVID-19 or the next virus. You also don’t get to choose how other people react, as evident by those who are putting plastic bags over their heads in the grocery stores or injecting themselves with Clorox bleach.
But here’s the best part: You get to choose the decisions you make. The easy way or the hard way? Sedentary or active? Prepared or scared? Healthy meals or fast food? You decide.
Here’s the hand-on-Bible part where I get REALLY honest with you: I used to be overweight, sedentary and very unhappy about it. When I tell you I love to eat, you can take that as a colossal understatement. So I know… I KNOW… that making these healthy decisions is easier said than done. I also know that making these decisions doesn’t mean completely giving up everything you love. If I had to give up donuts, chocolate and wine (especially wine with friends), life wouldn’t be worth living. But it’s all about moderation and earning the foods you enjoy.
If the Golden Arches are your go-to food option and you literally don’t know where to start, it can be as easy as searching “salad” or “sandwich” in your Google Maps app, or asking your friends on social media for healthy to-go options. View it as baby steps versus a major lifestyle overhaul… that’s too overwhelming. Think, ‘On Taco Tuesdays, I’m going to use ground turkey instead of ground beef and plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream’ versus ‘I’m going to only eat lettuce and grilled chicken for the REST OF MY LIFE.’
I promise, your McHappyLife is not in that drive-thru but it will be sweeter than McSyrup. Go get it and stay healthy, friends.