I've been able to kick two habits I used to have, which impacted my weight and health dramatically. The rest? Not so much. Food choices and exercise are continual struggles, but giving up pop and switching to pretty much only water was the biggest single influence on my health. The other was weaning myself off of TV.
Shark Week has been a bit of a reminder about how watching TV is a slippery slope back into bad health. Couch sitting. Bad posture. More snacking; mindless snacking. And guilt over the things that didn't get done, which should have got done. Yet, there I sit, unable to tear my eyes away from the sharks tearing the flesh off their prey.
TV used to rule my life to the point that I'd work social engagements around "my shows." This was back in the day when weekly TV was the way to watch, when the term "watercooler show" meant something because everyone would watch one episode at a time and then have to wait. These days, the shows that people get really into can be watched almost in their entirety on DVD sets or Netflix, and even if you watch new episodes weekly, you can catch up on-demand or PVR it and watch at your convenience. I'd have had far fewer excuses for missing the gym as a teen and young adult had I had the kind of TV options that I do today, but back in the olden days <cough cough cough> I stopped what I was doing at 8:00 pm to watch the show of choice, and then ended up staying glued to the tube for the rest of the evening. But, even when you can watch shows at your convenience, it still sucks up an awful lot of time to sit there and just absorb.
I still have shows I watch, of course. I have tried, over the years, to wean myself off of TV and deliberately not gotten sucked in to starting new programs. The more someone tries to tell me how much they think I'd love a certain series, the less likely I am to start watching because if I don't start, I don't get hooked. If I get hooked, I'm really hooked.
See, I'm a true binger. I binge eat. I binge read. And I binge tv-watch.
Clearly, finding balance in ANYTHING in my life is an issue, not just with food.
So if I turn the TV on for anything, I tend to leave it on. Shark Week comes at the end of a long and busy summer, and when I come home mentally and/or physically exhausted at the end of the day, it's a perfect way to unwind and relax before jumping into chores or blogging or work prep for the next day. The problem is that I get sucked in and then none of that happens. I stay on the couch.
And, as it turns out, it's as important for my health (and yours!) to stay off the couch as it is to stay out of the water. Shark-infested hunting-ground water, that is.
While it may feel relaxing, initially, and in small doses, to sit on the couch and veg while watching things move on a screen in front of you, in the long term it's not. Studies have been done on the relative happiness of people who watch more and less TV. Guess who's happier? You got it: the people who watch less of the boob tube. I think it's because, even if you're not being physically active, chances are you are being social, or mentally active, or sleeping. You're doing something productive. You are exercising your mind. Did you know that reading a book elicits the same brain wave patterns as doing yoga? Truth. Sleeping regenerates your brain cells in a much needed way, in addition to providing your body with rest. There are many sedentary activities which are stimulating for the mind, but watching TV is not one of them. No matter how much valuable information about shark behaviour you're gleaning.
So, I've had my week of sloth-like rest.
Sharks are fascinating creatures.
But it's time to get off the couch and get back in the water.