Saturday, August 15, 2015

Self-Reliance: Control What You Can (Food/Fitness)

Self-reliance boils down to taking control of what we can control and depending as little as possible on what we can't control.
Self-reliance is a grand-sounding phrase, but what does it mean in real life?Does it mean total self-sufficiency?
To my way of thinking, even the most self-sufficient still rely on energy pulled out of the ground somewhere far away, grains grown far away and a host of goods manufactured far away.
For most of us, living in urban or suburban zones, self-reliance boils down to this:take control of what you can. We can't control monetary policy or the shared infrastructure; we're at the mercy of authorities at the top of highly centralized hierarchies.
But that doesn't mean we have no control. We can control what we put in our mouths, what we do with our time and what we pursue with our minds.
The dynamic here is well-known: garbage in, garbage out. Garbage food in, garbage health out. Garbage financial planning in, garbage finances out. And so on.
As longtime readers know, we maintain a messy postage-stamp sized urban garden. Despite my lazy gardening style, the garden produces more vegetables than we can eat, so we share much of the yield. In summer, we only buy what we don't grow: round onions, carrots, etc.
Here's a few photos of this summer's bounty.
Fitness is like food: garbage in, garbage out. Any 6-foot/2-meter square of open space is a gym. You don't need any weights, machines or special equipment. If you want this stuff, much of it is available used at a huge discount to the retail price. If the weather allows, a bicycle replaces many auto trips. Fitness does not have to be a separate activity--it can be part of everyday life.
You can use a number of metrics to monitor your fitness: Body Mass Index, weight, strength, endurance. A good baseline that requires no machinery is the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). As always, before starting any fitness program, get checked out by a doctor to establish your baseline health. Don't overdo it. Don't attempt the APFT if you aren't in a long-term fitness regime; you may hurt yourself, and that's not the goal of fitness.
I'm going to take the APFT later this year, too. It's self-administered. It's not a competition, except against yourself and your own fitness goals.
Self-reliance boils down to taking control of what we can control and depending as little as possible on what we can't control.

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