By Michele the Trainer
True sophistication, to me, is healthy aging with grace and beauty. Studies have shown that eating plant foods is one of the most beneficial things we can do for our health. However, society seems to associate sophistication with unhealthy habits such as eating meat and smoking cigars. We all make our own choices, but I want to illuminate the slippery slope of pseudo-sophisticated behaviors sliding into bad habits, addictions, and serious health issues. As, for example, wine tasting turning or sliding into alcoholism and cirrhosis.
We all know times or places, cultures or stories where meat was very expensive. Maybe it was too expensive for the average family to buy or was reserved only for very special occasions. We all know stories where feasts including a lot of meat dishes were only available to the elite. Even now stock photos of feasts commonly have a large ham or turkey pictured on the table. So is the consumption of meat what we’re aspiring to? The ultimate sophistication? Let’s try to increase our health awareness and reframe the paradigm regarding sophistication.
Years ago I had a diabetic 400 pound client with 6 kids. Instead of trying to improve her diet with plant foods, she insisted she would always feed her family pork chops because her parents couldn’t afford to feed their family meat. I was trying to encourage her to add more vegetables, beans, and rice but she resisted because she associated those foods with poverty.
We all know that smoking is bad. It’s the ignored written warning on every smoking product, even internationally. And yet cigars are marketed as macho sophistication. Cigar stock photography often depicts smoking businessmen at an elite sporting event, gentlemen relaxing in a plush chair, or the wealthy celebrating success.
Ham and cigars can share the same rationalization, “Well, I only consume them on special occasions.” But if you eat ham at two holidays a year, that’s 120 fatty, cholesterol laden pig butts by the time we’re 60. If you smoke one cigar a week . . . you can do the math.
Pseudo-Sophistication Stops Here:
Pseudo-sophistication stops when folks slide down the slippery slope to realize their lifestyle causes complications in their lives and health.
I observe pseudo-sophistication stopping at the hospital and at anonymous groups. Nobody looks sophisticated sneaking from a dark parking lot into a smoking cessation help group. Though they’re trying to stop smoking and should be commended for getting help, wouldn’t it be better to never start in the first place? I’ve seen men and women wearing dark glasses to avoid recognition because they’ve finally realized they have a problem and don’t want to admit it to others. As for what brought this realization, it might be as severe as discovering and recovering from mouth cancer. Similarly, nobody feels like a king recovering from rib-spreading cardiac surgery. Cardiac stents can often be inserted from the thigh to the heart region and that is no, “Wow I feel like royalty,” event to recover from either.
Many health risk issues can be prevented with lifestyle choices. I invite everyone to embrace smart, healthy sophisticated choices. That makes for true sophistication.
Let’s associate true sophistication with intelligence and making smart decisions. Let’s reframe the word sophistication with the visuals of an abundant, delicious diet full of vegetables and fruits. Let’s include beautiful visuals of healthy living in oxygen rich environments like the parks, beaches, and mountains. Together we can choose life and health and dismiss the old, harmful, disease causing habits associated with pseudo-sophistication. True sophistication comes from choosing a life that allows us to age with agility, beauty, and grace.
What can we do?
- Realize and acknowledge that what society might think is sophisticated is far from true sophistication
- Don’t partake, and make better choices for ourselves and for others as the leaders of our families and communities.