Are you ready for a frenzy of fitness? I am!

We have all heard that Colorado is considered one of the healthiest states in the nation, so it didn’t take much convincing from my daughter for me to make up my mind to take quick road trip to this beautiful part of the country.

I thought to myself, “Why not visit Colorado and figure out why that is.”  I thought it would take longer than a few days to come up with an answer, but that is really about all the time I needed to understand why the obesity rate is less than 20% and is one of the fittest places in the country.   My conclusion?  Their fun is not dependent on food, their fun is from fitness!

Obviously I did not visit every household in Colorado, but I did have the chance to enjoy several meals while I was there and I noticed that they don’t rely on food as their only source of happiness and fun.  What do I mean by that?  For instance, when attending a potluck at a friend or relatives home in my “neck of the woods,” I am expected to understand that the food is the fun, it’s the focus of the day.  It’s common that people will bring bags of chips (all varieties) and dips to accompany them, a variety of salads loaded with mayonnaise, and fatty meats, all of them consumed in large portion sizes.

Pop is a given at all gatherings; I’ve yet to attend any when pop isn’t available. Desserts such as cookies, cheesecake and chocolate cream pies are the norm.  It’s just what we do here, the delicious food is the focus of the day and creates fun for all.  And if you mention going outdoors for some exercise, it’s not uncommon to hear a few individuals “groaning and complaining” as they give excuses why they just can’t do that.

It’s different in the places I visited in Colorado.  When attending a potluck there, I noticed that they do not bring any kind of chips, it’s just not something that they consider part of a meal.  Salads include fresh vegetables or fruits with very little mayonnaise, keeping the salads as healthy as possible.  And I noticed that the serving bowls are smaller, much smaller.  The meats are lower in fat and they are smaller portions, not massive burgers but smaller sized “sliders” are the norm.  If you drink pop or soda in Colorado, you’re looked at with disgust.   Actually, I didn’t notice this particular habit because I didn’t see anyone drinking pop … but it was explained to me this way when I asked about it.  Water is the preferred beverage.  The desserts are simple and smaller sized as well.  The food is not the focus … but physical activity and fitness is!

Now we all know that the mountains and rivers found in Colorado attract individuals who love the great outdoors, but it isn’t just that.   It seems as though it’s considered the norm to exercise outside; it’s just what they do.   Walking, running, hiking, biking, mountain climbing, white-water rafting, the list is endless.   The numerous activities of Colorado keep the residents constantly jumping towards new adventures that keep them fit. The residents appear to be in love with their sports to the extent that they cannot get enough of them, which I feel has turned into a frenzy of fitness!

But there is something else I noticed. Colorado provides places for the kids to play close to home, about two-thirds of children and teenagers have community centers, parks and sidewalks in their neighborhoods … and they utilize them!   During my visit I witnessed that the children were not only playing in those places, but they were riding their bikes, roller skates and enjoying swing-sets in their yard.  It was great to see.

I’m completely aware that we do not have the mountains or the ability to white-water raft in most areas of Michigan, but we do have the ability to walk, run, hike, bike, and we can surely swim, we have plenty of wonderful lakes here in this great state of ours!   My wish is that we change our way of thinking and stop focusing on food as our source of fun; retrain our brain to recognize that physical activity and fitness is where the fun is truly found!

A “frenzy of fitness” in Michigan?  I’m so ready for that!  Are you?

Photo credit: Jodi Davis

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