Monday, July 11, 2016

LIfestyle Changes

A quiet blog post not about climbing, but about lifestyle changes I have made, changes I want to make. 

Its difficult to make changes in lifestyle. We become stuck in patterns and routines that can be difficult to shake off. Change is difficult because of habit, and lack of imagination. We lie to ourselves all the time. We can convince ourselves of all kinds of falsehoods: 
"I could never give that up", 
Its not that bad for me" , 
"What I 'm doing is not hurting anyone"

Why make changes? For health, for our families and for society at large. 

When I was a younger man, I made many poor life style choices, I was inactive, I ate poorly, I smoked. In my 30s I have slowly been trying to change those things. 

First thing I gave up - smoking.

Rock climbing smoker. Sheesh, what was I thinking. 
Giving up smoking was tough. A prescription for Champix, a couple of short relapses, but its been about 8 years since I stopped smoking. The only thing good about the experience was that it was so difficult to quit an ultra-addictive substance, that other life style changes don't seem so hard. 
Whenever I hear someone say something like " I could never give that up" I think to myself, try quitting smoking, it physically hurts to give it up. 

Next thing, eating habits. When I was in my early to mid-20s I ate garbage, and stayed thin for the most part. When my late 20s and early 30s hit, and all came back to haunt me. 

Young and skinny. But not for long....

Early 30s - I got so chubby that I would eat anything. Even large snowballs. 

Weight watchers, some discipline, improved eating habits and then eventually I was able to lose about 70 lbs over the course of 10-12 months. I never want to gain that much weight again! Compared to quitting smoking, losing weight was easy. The first couple of months were hardest, adjusting to new eating habits, but then you just feel better and better, so it becomes easier with time.

I do have to watch myself here, its easy to let old habits come back. 

Post weight loss. 

So what's next? Something that has been bothering me for a really long time, slowly eating at my inside. Its something that I have been able to lie to myself about for as long as I can remember. 
Eating meat.

I love animals, I always have. My whole life I have had pets, and to me they are more than "pets", they are friends and companions, part of the family. 

I love wild animals, I love domestic animals. It does not matter how smart they are, we all know that they have feelings. Look into the liquid eyes of any animal and tell me that they are somehow less than us? Its insane. 
I see squirrels on the road and I swerve to avoid hitting them, I see cows in the field and smile. There is not a single animal I don't like.

I'm a hypocrite. I love animals, I respect animals, but I use them for food. 
I've been lying to myself, telling myself that its ok, but its not. 

You wouldn't eat me? Why would you eat a cow?
My next lifestyle change - End my hypocrisy. Stop eating meat. Its time to walk the walk. My first two lifestyle changes were about me this one is for every sentient animal who suffers because of my lifestyle choices. 
This seems like its going to difficult, I have a lifetime of habit behind me that needs to be changed. 

Its the violence, it gnaws at me. We all know how monstrous farm animals are treated. There is no humane way of harvesting animals for food. You can't exploit compassionately. 

The absolute, unquestionable truth is that vast majority of farm animals are kept in conditions that we would not wish on our worst enemies. They are treated worse than we treat murders, they are treated on par or perhaps even worse than prisoners in a concentration camp. Imagine your favourite pet living their life in conditions like this in this horror?

I have found its easiest to make lifestyle changes by starting with small steps. So as a first step, Teresa and I are giving up meat and eggs. Its been about 6 weeks, I have slipped a few times usually on climbing trips where its easy to fall into old eating habits when tired and hungry. 

This might be my hardest challenge yet. We'll see how it goes. 

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