I’ve got nothing against Beyoncé, and in fact have for her the sort of warm feelings one has for overwhelmingly beautiful females one is unlikely ever to meet. Thus I was a little sorry to see her attacked in the press for her rich new deal to lend more of her celebrity to the cause of getting people to drink more Pepsi. Her critics noted that Pepsi and similar sweet fizzy drinks are a major cause of the obesity epidemic and related diseases such as diabetes. Why would a smart,creative, caring person with no desperate need for cash do such an awful thing?
Though a little sorry, I was also cheered that this issue was raised in mainstream publications. Of all the ways we might choose to make ourselves ill, drinking lots of Pepsi and similar drinks is surely one of the silliest. Just as with cigarettes, we’ve come over time to understand that the risks are serious, but even with that understanding, the evil brilliance of Madison Avenue advertising overwhelms logic. Beautiful celebrities can do a lot of damage along this line.
This all seems fairly obvious, but it was one of those things that, as recently as last week prior to the Beyoncé brouhaha, it was hard to say without seeming like a fanatical kook. The ad campaigns, pursued over generations now with increasing sophistication, have really worked — they’ve taken over our brains. Countless millions believe they need and enjoy their sodas, and the same goes for chips. Suggestions to the contrary can excite hostility. Recently I suggested to a friend that it would be a good idea to label salty crunchy fried products with some sort of warning — say, a skull and crossbones. He looked at me like I must have completely lost my mind!
Breaking the junk food and drink habit is not easy. The products have been formulated to satisfy some primal urge to slurp and crunch. If that weren’t enough, the endless advertisements overwhelm all logic and lots of attempts at self-control. Plus, the stuff is pervasive. Entire aisles of stores, and even entire stores (where you buy gas) are devoted to purveying junk food, sodas, and tobacco. And everywhere are people apparently enjoying it. We are social animals, and we enjoy doing as others do. So how can we resist?
It can be done. There are some hints in Charles Duhigg’s book dealing with breaking bad habits, which I wrote about recently. In a nutshell, you substitute good habits for bad ones. You identify the cue for the behavior, the routine, and the reward. If the cue is thirst, experiment with another routine, like having a glass of filtered water or a cup of green tea instead of a soda. If it’s wanting to be close to Beyoncé, watch her on YouTube.
On the subject of trying to live healthier, Larissa Lotz, my personal trainer, suggested recently that my thoracic spine could use some help, and recommended massage therapy with Brian Hagan. He’s the MT for the Carolina Hurricanes, who no doubt need a strong dose of massage therapy now and again. I got in to see him this week.
Brian was friendly, and seemed knowledgeable and skilled, and also really enthusiastic about the health benefits of massage. In addition to working on my T-spine, he give me an extensive lesson on foam rolling. He predicted it would be transformative in loosening muscles and increasing flexibility. I thought that sounded good, and agreed to give it a shot.