Diet and Exercise: What's the Point?

by Cindy Haines, M.D. Health Professional

All this talk about diet and exercise - It's got me thinking about the point of it all.

As an American female, of course I know all too well what the perceived priority is: Be as thin and beautiful as possible. Food and exercise are tools that must be mastered to help us achieve that ever-moving target.

What we pick up as the priorities of society tend to become what overtakes us: For us girls, that translates into the ceaseless desire to prove our worth through beauty. And what we focus on in our society is: Being thin means you are on your way to being beautiful. For the guys, it often means a quest to prove strength and masculinity.

Thus, diet and exercise become tools in the quest to fill the emptiness we inevitably will feel by striving for something so hollow"so very pointless. Because of its elusiveness in the face of the never-ending assault of societal expectations, it often becomes an exercise (no pun intended) of self-abuse. Abuse through unrealistic expectations; distance from who we really are, at our very core. Something that cannot be measured by a scale or body mass index, or by how many accolades one gets from others for being pretty, thin, fit, strong. Food and physical activity become things we must control - and that end up controlling us, as a result.

So what then? Don't worry about diet/don't worry about exercise? If such a focus is a fruitless pursuit in a world that has such deeper meaning, why bother at all? Maybe we should just let it go and focus on the existential crisis of it all.

But this is also a form of self-abuse: it's self-neglect.

The answer, I believe, is in the understanding that diet and exercise are important, yes. Diet and exercise are means to an end, yes. Diet and exercise are tools we can use for a purpose.

Let me explain: Think about obtaining possession of something very valuable; let's say expensive cars are your thing. You finally have your heart's desire: a shiny red Ferrari - brand new, beautiful, powerful; simply one-of-a-kind. You would go out of your way to treat that car like the precious creation you know it to be. You will ensure that the gas you put in it is premium; you would ensure all the regular (and even extra) maintenance is adhered to; you would keep it out of harm's way - and you'd probably get pretty angry if someone else was treating your beloved in even the slightest of disrespectful ways.

You see where I am going with this?

Your Ferrari is not the gas, not the care and maintenance, or even the car in and of itself - these are just the "tools" that are necessary to ensure optimal performance of the prized creation in doing what it was made for. The proper care and feeding is necessary for the Ferrari to be able to accomplish what it was made to do: FLY

We also run on fuel. We also require the right kind of maintenance. We also must ensure our care and feeding is tended to, with love. With acknowledgement of just how precious, unique and important we each are. For a purpose. We all have our own, and I believe it is a key point of, if not the, meaning of life to determine what that purpose is, and work towards fulfilling it. Diet and exercise -what's the point? These are simply tools, among the many available to us, to be used in the journey towards finding/becoming more of what has always been intended for each of us.

For even more tips on how to get better health and need the health care system less, check out: The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System by Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D.
(Dr. Cindy Haines) and Eric Metcalf, M.P.H. This is a book about getting what you really want: better health on your own terms.

Cindy Haines, M.D.
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Cindy Haines, M.D.

Cindy Haines, M.D., wrote about diet and exercise for HealthCentral.