When You Know Better You Do Better

Wellington in front of Glasgow's Museum of Modern Art
Wellington in front of Glasgow’s Museum of Modern Art

Maya Angelou said that.  I’m not sure I agree with the wise woman this time, though.  We know better than to do a lot of the things that we do; but, we do them anyway.  We drink, then do all manner of things like dance in public or call somebody.  (Don’t act like you don’t know what a Drunk Dial is.) Worse, we drink, then we drive.

We also eat mass-produced hamburgers that aren’t even cooked on-site anymore. (Seriously, they microwave most of that stuff now.)  We know better than that, we really do.  We know that we need to eat more vegetables and that we need the vibrantly colored ones. We know that we need to eat less sugar, less sodium and (perhaps) less fat.  We know that we need to limit our intake of all white foods.  Or do we?

We’ve heard obviously biased claims for so long, what can we believe anymore? “Lose 50 pounds in two weeks by eating nothing but popcorn!” “Order these boxed foods and lose pounds and inches fast!” “Wrap your body in plastic wrap and lose two dress sizes before Wheel of Fortune is over.” “Order this bottle of questionable chemicals and lose ugly fat without changing your lifestyle.”  Hype.  Hype. Hype. (Hype – short for hyperbole – an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as “to wait an eternity.”) These claims, by definition, cannot be taken seriously.

My advice to all of us is this: educate ourselves and eschew any diet that makes outrageous claims or that has us cut out entire food groups.  (I say that knowing that I’ve admitted to cutting out nearly all dairy.  I made that cut not because I think that everyone needs to, but because of how my own body reacts to it.)  Proceed with caution with any diet or lifestyle plan that promises outlandish rewards without work.  Let’s take that further: proceed with caution with ANYTHING that promises outlandish rewards without work.  Proceed with caution and be ready to throw ourselves into full-throttle reverse!

The key here is that we have to educate ourselves on what is logical in a nutritional sense, in a scientific sense and in a lifestyle sense.  We have to pay attention to the fine print of diet aids and ads, and we have to really note where it says: results not typical.

This weekend, while in McCreary County, Kentucky – one of the poorest in the country – we stopped to ask directions from a guy at a gas station.  He turned, cigarette in hand and mouthed directions.  Stoma clearly visible on his neck, he could not speak; but, still smoked.  No, Ms Angelou. We don’t always do better.

And shame on us for it.

But, she also said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

Let’s educate ourselves so that we really know better, then let’s challenge ourselves to actually apply that knowledge and do better.


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