Your Body Is Not A Machine

I was talking to someone the other day who made the claim that vegetables these days definitely contain less vitamins than they used to. Her reason? She eats a lot of vegetables but yet still doesn't feel well. She feels like crap, in fact, and she's tired all the time.

I felt bad for the poor vegetables she was slighting. So I did a bit of investigation. It's allegedly true. According to Dr. Donald Davis at the University of Texas, Austin, the average vegetable found in a U.S. supermarket contains 5% to 40% fewer minerals, including magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc. However, he does concede there is a lack of historical data for comparison (read the whole article here).

Even though we are supposedly getting fewer nutrients in our veggies, I think the facts plainly show that we are healthier than we've ever been throughout the course of human existence. According to the World Health Organization, the average world life expectancy in 2005 was 65.6 years, up substantially from 1900, when it was 31. And we also have a better quality of life. Just spare a quick thought about polio, outhouses, bedpans and having to wash your clothes in the river against a rock.

So why does my friend feel like crap? The missing link is that in addition to her full-time job, she has recently started a business on the side. I wonder why she's so tired. Our lives seem more complicated than they've ever been and at the same time there's more pressure to be 'fulfilled' and 'happy' – whatever they mean.

I too tend to overextend myself. This is especially true when it comes to socializing – I find seeing friends and hearing their tales energizing. When I was going through my physiotherapy treatment one of the things I found tough was slowing down to allow myself time to rest. Although I had a full-time job, I tried to keep up the same social life while squeezing in my exercises every morning and night, often when I was so tired I wanted to cry. It was defeat in my mind to admit that I couldn't do all the things I desired. 'More is more' is often my motto. But I think it means I end up with less in the end.

Super Physio had one phrase that rang true time and again: your body is not a machine. What I think she meant was that although our bodies are fabulous machines (how does our heart just keep beating like that?) we can't expect them to run at full capacity when we don't take care of them properly.

I'm slowly coming to terms with the idea that I can't go out every night of the working week and still stay sane. I have a strict limit of two nights per week. And I even carve out some time for myself at the weekend – to go to a yoga class or actually keep current on paying bills or answering emails.

Let's stop blaming outside factors (the poor veggies!) for our bleary eyes and feeling worn-out. It takes a lot of courage to honestly assess where you are doing too much and not taking care of that incredible human machine. You only get one, by the way.

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