Summary. This article by Gregory Johnson reveals that the typical American lifestyle glamorized on television and culturally exported around the world through advertising and commercialism may be detrimental to your health. Gregory describes how he gained 40 pounds and aged 20 years in 6 months by following a typical American Lifestyle.
Living the American Dream. A study conducted by the University of Southern California determined that the American lifestyle may be detrimental to health. The study was limited to Hispanics, but the findings are applicable to anyone. The study affirmed what we already know about the crisis of obesity in America and heart disease. Between January 2008 and June 2008, I had an opportunity to live what many people would say is the “American Dream.” I just finished writing my book Put Your Life on a Diet which advocates simple and sustainable living. I’d spent about 4 years in my off-the-grid home, eating mostly nutritious organic vegan foods, riding my bicycle for transportation, going to bed early, waking up early, and starting each day with Yoga, meditation, and exercise. In my book I enthusiastically extol the benefits of this lifestyle which I have described as the Holistic Living System. Yet, I didn’t really know the true benefits of living this alternative lifestyle without trying to live the way most people in America live. When the opportunity arose to live the American Dream I decided to go ahead and try it with regard to transportation, food, housing, sleep, exercise, and some other aspects of life.
How Would I Know. I remember my Grandmother relating a story about the medical treatment she would receive for her sore shoulder. The doctor would ask her, “Is it helping?” She would reply, “How would I know?” She had nothing to compare her experience with. How would she feel without the treatment or with a different treatment? Similarly, I thought it would be helpful for me to know “Is it helping?” How much benefit was I really getting from the lifestyle I’d been living and advocating?
Age Reversal. One of my areas of interest and study has been age reversal. Many of the benefits of youthfulness are quite practical such as increased stamina, more energy, faster healing, greater creativity, optimism, idealism, and a sense of humor. Obviously people do not all age the same. Many factors contribute to how quickly our level of wellness deteriorates or improves. By following my Holistic Living System, by 2007, I’d reduced my metabolic age to about 20 years old as measured on a Tanita body composition analysis scale. According to the RealAge.com website, I was in my mid to late 20s if only considering a few lifestyle factors that influence aging. It’s not surprising that many of my friends in recent years have been in their 20s simply because they are the people I feel greatest compatibility with. Having youthful stamina and creativity has been a vital asset for me. In my field of technology support, I need to come up with creative solutions to problems. Often I need to put in long hours and maintain clarity of thought. Having ongoing creativity and clarity of thought have also been essential for me as a writer.
Accelerated Aging and Rapid Weight Gain. In January 2008, I decided to replace my bicycle with a car. This meant I was more sedentary and had more financial burdens to worry about. I began spending most of my “at home” time in apartment style living community. I spent a considerable amount of time in mediated experiences such as watching movies at about the average hours per week that most people in America watch television. This also contributed to a sedentary lifestyle. I replaced my nutritious organic vegan diet with more typical (yet vegetarian) American food, snacks, and beverages. Although I continued to exercise sporadically, it wasn’t with the regularity necessary to see benefits (typical of many Americans). I began going to bed late. For a variety of reasons, my sleep time was too short, or frequently interrupted, so it resulted in what seemed to be a cumulative sleep deprivation. As a result of living the typical American lifestyle, I began aging at a rate of about 5 years per month. By June, when I measured my metabolic age with the Tanita body composition monitor, my age was reported as 50 years old — and I felt like I was 50 years old. I’d gained about 40 pounds in about 6 months. My pant waist size went from 36 inches, to 38 inches, to 40 inches, and then size 40 began to feel tight by June. When exercising, my pulse rate would be 150 beats per minute for the same elliptical incline and resistance that previously would have resulted in about 130 beats per minute. As a result of my findings and experience, I would strongly recommend avoiding such a lifestyle.
Super Size Me. I was reminded of the documentary Super Size Me by Morgan Spurlock. It’s one of my favorite videos. At one point during the documentary, Morgan goes in for a medical checkup and his doctor tells him if he doesn’t stop eating fast food it will kill him. Had I continued living the typical American lifestyle, by the end of this year, my metabolic age would be 70 years old. I would be 260 pounds and my pant waist size would be 48 inches.
Accelerated Age Reversal and Weight Loss. Out of fear that I might do permanent irreversible harm to myself by living the average American lifestyle, in June, I returned to following my Holistic Living System. The results in the first week have been astounding. My age has gone from 50 years old to 48 years old. My weight has gone from 220 pounds to 215 pounds. My pant size has gone from 40 inches down to 38 inches. These are only the initial results. I’m eagerly looking forward to the weeks ahead to see how following the Holistic Living System can continue to reduce my age and weight. More reports on the success will be provided in my monthly personal updates. For more about alternatives to the typical American diet, the video Diet for a New America explores what a new American diet might look like and how it could impact wellness in America as well as the environment. The video refers to a study done in China that reveals why our American diet is killing us. For more, read the book, The China Study.
Not Even If You Paid Me. For a period of several years, I provided house sitting for some friends of mine. Their home is not an average home. It’s about 4,000 square feet and valued at over $600,000 (US). If it were in or near a major metropolitan center, it would probably be appraised at about 4 million dollars or more. There’s a pool, hot tub, fitness center, a home theater, full-home computer controlled lighting, and many other amenities. Staying at their home was quite a pleasure. They would leave the kitchen and refrigerator stocked with the finest organic foods and delicacies. They would leave gifts for me, give me their car to drive, and they even paid me to stay in their home. About two years ago they asked me to house sit for them, and it was then that I realized how much I really preferred my lifestyle of living in a tiny home and riding a bicycle. I turned them down. I felt bad about it because they had relied on me in the past. So, I felt even greater pressure to help out. Yet, ultimately, I had to follow my heart. The experience helped be become more resolute in my commitment to living simple and small. My experience this year with living the “American Dream” has also helped me appreciate the simple life that I have.
Put Your Life on a Diet. In the months ahead, I will be applying the teachings and principles presented in my book, Put Your Life on a Diet, to demonstrate their effectiveness for achieving weight loss, age reversal, greater effectiveness, and overall well being. I invite you to join with me and see similar results in your own life.
Breaking News. Three days after the above article was published, on June 23, CNN aired a special report about what the Japanese government is doing to resist the negative impact of the average American lifestyle.