Wavell Starr Column

As First Nations people we are raised to be humble and unselfish. The individual’s perception of what is selfish and what is not is a factor to consider when making life choices.

If being unselfish is taken “too literally” it can potentially create barriers to improved health by making one feel guilty for wanting to improve themselves through physical fitness and healthier eating choices.

Self-care, any action you intentionally take to maintain your total self, is absolutely essential in this day and age.

The importance of stress management and the current diabetes epidemic amongst First Nations people are reason enough to firmly justify the need for more people to consider making physical health a priority.

The first piece of advice that I offer is to plan your workouts in your calendar and treat them the same way that you would treat a business meeting or any other appointment that you feel is important enough to take priority over other activities that may come up.

You will be faced with challenges in keeping to your training schedule. People will approach you with alternate plans that you may feel you should consider participating in rather than tending to your workout (family gathering, important meeting, hot date, etc.).

I suggest that the first factor you should consider is if the potential alternative is important enough to make you lose out on the improvements that you would make if you were to follow through with your original plan to go train. I also encourage people to employ common sense.

If it is something that is really important to you, tend to it and make a commitment to make up for it. Perhaps you can make up for the missed exercises the next day and work through a day that was previously planned as a rest day.

If you need to say no, but you have a hard time telling people that you are unavailable to go with them due to training, you can try “Thanks for the invite. I would totally be down to join but I have an appointment (at the gym).”

People will also at times offer you food that doesn’t align with your eating plan. Of course as First Nations people we hear the belief that we are not to refuse food as it may be perceived as an offensive gesture.

This is where the common sense factor I mentioned earlier comes in to play. If you feel it would be rude to say no to the food offering, simply accept the food and make adjustments to your plan accordingly. Lower the carbohydrates and fats that you were to ingest for the day to accommodate for the meal you were offered and didn’t want to turn down.

This is an option that would allow one to remain on a defined meal plan without having to feel guilty for refusing food for traditional ideological reasons. If you work in a corporate environment where the majority of the employees are non- First Nation, it is a common team-building gesture for someone to bring sweets such as a cake, or cinnamon buns, etc.

Again if you feel it would be rude to decline simply eat the cake, say thank you, and tighten your diet for the remainder of the day.

If you feel comfortable enough to decline (which is what would benefit your goals most so I would challenge you to try this route), you may say you are thankful for the offer but are unable to consume sugar at the moment.

From experience, most people will be fine with that and will not be offended at your reluctance to participate in the cake-eating coffee break.

Keep up with the latest news from Wavell Starr on twitter @wavellstarr and “like” his page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TheWavellStarrShow

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