It wasn’t until after my buddy, Mike called to give me the full story on his upcoming heart surgery that I had a quick thought about why I live like I do.
First, while I refuse to buy into the silliness that is vegetarianism or worse, veganism, or any of the other diet fads, I didn’t always eat as well as I do today. I’ve never shied away from fast food, and even embrace it during cycling season, but I’ve cut back considerably from my younger days.
I eat healthy, well balanced, good food today, and it’s not because it tastes good. Sure, my homemade burgers are fantastic, even better than a Whopper (Burger King) and heads and shoulders better than anything McDonald’s or Wendy’s can turn out… Fast food is an experience. It’s no work eating. Pull up to a drive-thru and they throw a hot, cooked meal at you within a minute or two. I love easy.
Mike likes easy, and much more frequently that I do.
Unfortunately, three of the arteries leading to his heart are currently pretty pissed about his enjoyment of “easy”. Mike eats like $#!+. He liked to think he got a free pass on crap food because he’s active. Not so, and he’ll be acutely aware of this as he is trying to heal from his upcoming open heart surgery.
Too often, making the right choices is an abstract thing (in food and exercise). One never sees the concrete result. You simply don’t die (or one lives a little longer, however you want to look at it). Oh, some people claim to feel better if they avoid certain foods but how one “feels” is highly subjective anyway. It’s not often one can actually put their finger on a health problem and say, “Okay, I’ll eat better because my crappy diet caused “X”.
My buddy Mike can, and the rest of us who know him and care about him can. His artery blockage is a direct result of diet. He does everything else right. Hasn’t had a drink in decades, doesn’t smoke, and exercises like his life depends on it. If a crappy diet were okay, he should have shiny, healthy arteries. Instead, he’s going under the knife to have new arteries put in.
There’s a flip-side to this though…
He’s been an athlete for decades, having qualified for Boston every year and regularly running sub-three hour marathons (if I remember correctly, his pace for the Crim 10 miler – our local standard for how fast one can run – was less than 60 minutes). When he started having knee trouble he switched to cycling and has always been in the 20+ mph club. My buddy’s heart found new ways to get blood to it. It grew new branches to the arteries and while inefficient, because he was such an enthusiastic athlete, his body found a way to keep the effort up. If not for his fitness, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what his likely fate would have been.
In the end, we all know what must be done, it’s just a matter of being willing to do it. Eat healthy and lead an active life. This won’t guarantee longevity, I wish it did. What it will guarantee is that we get to live the healthiest, longest life possible. If we’re fortunate enough to find happiness, especially in the fitness end of that equation, we’ll also get to enjoy it as well.
Ride hard my friends.