Monday, January 5, 2009

Get Fit ... The Eco Friendly Way

Before we get started on today's post, I have exciting news ... recently I was invited to write an article for Eazy Cheezy ... and it's being published today. It is a real honor to be asked to write for such a first class site. So if you have a few extra minutes, head over there and check it out. And a huge thank you to Eazy Cheezy for helping me spread the "green" word. OK ... on to today's subject:

Precisely at midnight on December 25th, advertisers stopped tempting us with tantalizing treats and set about convincing us that it is time to shape up. Turn on TV and you're sure to see a commercial for the latest exercise equipment ... home gyms, rubber bands and tubes designed to shape up our thighs, even bender balls which promise to give us firm abs. Enter a bookstore and you'll come face to face with the latest diet fad. There are powders and pills ... gym memberships ... exercise tights and shoes and leotards ... the list goes on and on. Those "before and after" commercials try to convince us that their system is the only system that will work ... and we must have it.

Unfortunately, it's a lot of stuff that costs a lot of money. And for most of us, it'll get shoved to the side or tossed out after the enthusiasm has worn off. Even if one is dedicated for longer than a month, the fact is that it's a lot of stuff ... stuff made out of less than eco-friendly materials ... stuff that may require the use of batteries or electricity ... stuff that ends up in our closets or worse ... a landfill. And that is especially sad when we have everything we need to get in shape ... without buying a thing. Here are a few ideas:

  • Walk! One of the easiest ways to improve one's health is to get out and walk. It's free ... no unusual equipment needs to be purchased ... no training required ... and it's totally earth friendly. Look for opportunities to walk instead of driving ... you'll prevent pollution, reduce gas consumption and get healthy. What a deal!

  • Take the stairs. I once lived in Phoenix, Arizona, for the summer (I know ... hottest part of the year ... call me crazy). There was a seven story parking garage near our apartment (we affectionately called it the "Purple Monster") and since doing much of anything during the day was just too stifling, we set our alarm for 3:00 am and hit the stairwell. We charged up seven flights of stairs to the open parking on the roof and then glided down the opposite set of stairs. As we got into better shape, we did more "reps" and even started jogging around the empty roof before walking home. So look around for opportunities to take the stairs ... guaranteed to set you on a road to fitness. And ... forgoing the elevator saves energy (while increasing yours).

  • Do chores. Have you ever noticed how physical it is to clean up a house or yard? Make your workout count double by cleaning up. Grab a rake and hit that yard full of leaves ... wash windows ... organize a garage ... sweep the deck ... change sheets on the bed. Reach, stretch and move ... you'll get a great workout ... and a clean space. And best of all ... using our own energy means we tread lightly on the earth.

Moving is only part of the fitness equation. Eating healthier is another part.
  • Eat organic. Foods which have been grown using pesticides are simply not the healthiest option ... not for us ... not for the earth. The effects of pesticides are not well understood and in some cases completely unstudied. So, minimizing our exposure to them is important. If going totally organic is not possible, try going organic with the following fruits and vegetables which are considered the 10 worst for pesticide load by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). EWG is a not-for-profit environmental research organization dedicated to improving public health and protecting the environment by reducing pollution in air, water and food. For more information visit them at

    • Peaches
    • Apples
    • Sweet Bell Peppers
    • Celery
    • Nectarines
    • Strawberries
    • Cherries
    • Lettuce
    • Imported Grapes
    • Pears
  • Eat local and in season. Food that has to travel across the country or across the world loses much of it's nutritional value in the process. And while I haven't exactly studied the nutritional value of foods grown in a greenhouse ... I do know that they taste nothing like the vegetables grown on my patio in the summer. So I'm guessing that those tasteless tomatoes that one can find in the grocery stores in December ... aren't as nutritionally viable as we'd like. And all that travel in refrigerated trucks causes pollution and uses valuable resources. So eat local and in season.

  • Go meatless. Eating vegetables and a plant-based diet is healthy. Even if going totally "veg" is undesirable, try including a few meatless meals in your weekly menu. Your body will thank you ... the earth will thank you.

  • East less processed food. The more natural the food ... the better for you. Processed food is full of sodium, fat and sugar ... and a few other things that I don't recognize and can't pronounce. Let's face it ... if we need a degree if organic chemistry to understand the label .. we don't need it. The next time you're tempted to pick up a can of soup or a box of "helper", check the label ... I'll bet you find high sodium levels and fat. Think that "fat free" cake is any better? Think again ... most "fat free" products make up for the loss of flavor by kicking up the sugar. And anything that includes partially hydrogenated oil (which shows up in a lot of processed food) is really harmful. Here's a tip ... shop the perimeters of the grocery store and you'll eat healthier.

Getting fit doesn't have to cost a lot ... or add more "stuff" to an already cluttered world. It just takes a little creativity ... and a lot of will.

As always ... I'd love to hear from you!