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Health Tip: It's all in your head

Marathon runners stress the importance of both physical fitness and mental discipline. Many top runners say that the first half of a long race is a physical test, but the last half is a mental test. The same concept applies to those who are just starting a workout routine. Yes, you will need to build up your physical stamina to be able to complete the workout, but you must also engage in positive self-talk. Jot down a list of the reasons why sticking to an exercise routine is important to you and your well being, then refer to that list when you are feeling discouraged. Remember: your body can do amazing things, but the power of the mind is unprecedented!

Infantalizing fitness

June 22 at the Aladdin Theater OPB's LiveWire, Recess and The Thermals!

The Thermals! have more than 20,000 friends on MySpace. That's basically a small city.

Join Recess CEO, Tanya Barham, and the OPB LiveWire crew and musical guests The Thermals! on June 22 at the Aladdin Theater. We'll be showing how Recess and children's games are a great way to get adults thinking about how they can make healthy movement the highlight of their day.

June 22 - show starts at 8:00p.m. at the Aladdin Theater on 3017 SE Milwaukie in Portland, OR

BUY TICKETS at the theater box office or on ticketmaster for $12 in advance or $15 day of show's a secret

Our Super Secret Yogis are back at it in a beautiful location on the Portland waterfront. If you live in Portland and are interested in stretching to the sound of water lapping against the shore as the sun sets to the West, sign up here in the refer a friend portion of the page click the box for SuperSecretYoga and then hit the "refer these friends" button.

Once you've joined the list, we will email the super secret locations so that you, too, can join in the fun.

When: Wed. nights 6:00-7:00 p.m.

How much: Classes are $10, or 3 for $24.

Brevity works.

We think that one participant's response to the Recess mini-seminars at the 2007 Meeting Planners International Cascade Chapter Conference, pretty much sums up the feedback we received:

"I was just amazed at how much information I got in 25 minutes....perfect."

Doomed to be "fat" forever?

Appearance isn't the only reason to embrace healthy choices.

No fewer than five people forwarded a New York Times article called, "Genes Take Charge, Diets Fall by the Wayside" to me. The article highlights a study showing that people who have "fat genes" will have a harder time losing weight and when they do they are not likely to keep it off. It can be easy to read too much into one study's conclusions and think, "Nothing I do will matter anyway."

With diabetes, cancers and heart disease on the rise nationally, the importance of getting and staying fit goes beyond just appearance to quality of life.

People who are healthy spend less of their lives with limitations, pain and disability. Even those who suffer from disease benefit from physical activity and better health. So instead of lamenting your crushed aspirations of being America's Next Top Model, be well and rejoice in your ability to fully enjoy the many aspects of your life that are enhanced by good health.

Giving up means missing the point.

It's true. The deck is not stacked in favor of people who have "obese genes," that is for sure, but how many people truly have these genes? And when is obesity a precursor for serious health risks, or, simply a body type that doesn't fit with prevailing norms for beauty?

The questions can get specific, technical and deep, but when we take a step back it is hard to deny that the way we choose to live still makes an impact.

Skip this section if you're already a member of "the choir."

As a mere 5% of the world's population, Americans drink 33% of all pop consumed in the world - far more than any other nation. Sugar accounts for 16% of the average American's daily caloric intake, due in large part to more processed foods whose ingredients are out of our control. Like many refined foods, sugar is calorie rich and nutrient poor. Reports by the USDA show that the American diet has long been trending toward more more calories and less nutrition.

When you look at demographic and epidemiological studies tracking obesity trends, saying that environment doesn't play a role or only plays an insignificant role seems far too simplistic an argument. Given the huge shifts, it is becoming harder and harder to tell for whom obesity is a natural state, or, for whom body mass is a harbinger of bad tidings.

How do we understand whether obesity is attributable to heritage or is a result of urban design, car culture, the fact that 60% of Americans don't even get a total of 30 minutes of cardio per day - about half of whom are almost completely sedentary?

Muddying the waters even more are studies that show that for some major illnesses, like coronary artery disease, physical fitness might be a better indicator of illness than body mass index (BMI) or other health risks.

This raises the question, is it obesity itself that is the problem or unhealthy behavior associated with obesity? Depending on who you are looking at, it might be some combination of both.

The bottom line:

With all of this talk about obesity we lose sight of a fact that no one can credibly deny.

Healthy movement, good nutrition and managing stress benefit everyone.

Period. End of story.

Some people just have to work harder.

That is true in all aspects of life. Some people are born with parents who are richer, more connected, and perhaps can get them a leg-up in their life path of choice. So should the rest of us simply stop trying to learn and accomplish things that give us pride? Heck no!

It is fine to recognize that some of us encounter a greater number of challenges on our road to health than others, but the result of one study's binary theories of genetic determinism are not grounds to just lose hope.

If you are tempted to give up, then hear this:

Yep, it's harder for some of us.

No, you might never look like Cindy Crawford.

Yes, you will have to be much more vigilant to maintain any progress you make.

Yes, you will backslide faster if you screw up.

But will you feel better, be healthier and better off if you exercise, eat nutritiously and rest? Undoubtedly.

So please keep on keepin' on. Get out there and enjoy life with as much strength and ability as you have at your disposal!

Interested in learning about still more off-the-wall or creative ways to stay fit? Then listen to or attend LiveWire on OPB on June 22, where Recess will be infantilizing the concept of "fitness" by using children’s games as a way to get adults thinking about how they can make healthy movement the highlight of their day.

If you have a health topic that interests you and you would like to see it in the next D.I.Y. Healthy Lifestyle then write to with your request.