I remember first hearing “You are what you eat!” back in the 60’s or 70’s. You know, back when I knew I had all the answers to life’s big problems.
I figured it came from some brilliant philosopher, like Groucho Marx, or John Lennon.
This morning, as I dug deep into the reference stacks at my university (aka Google), I discovered the saying allegedly evolved from the following quote by Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in 1826.
“Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.”
[Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are].
Most Defiant Wellness readers are well aware of the impact their food choices may have upon their health and well-being. You also know how proper nutrition is essential to fueling your body to perform.
But not everything we ingest is in the form of food. Perhaps even more than food, we ingest large volumes of information. If you think junk food has a negative effect on your body, consider the impact of trivial nonsense upon your mind.
After struggling for years with Information Overload, I made a committed effort this year to shift from McInfo Nuggets, to Whole Info in the guise of long form text. That is to say, I am trying to place boundaries on Facebook and Internet consumption, and get back to reading books.
It wasn’t a deliberate “New Year Resolution”, so much as it was an awareness of what I was consuming. It happened by accident, as I was listening to Weightlifting Coach, Matt Foreman being interviewed on Scott Iardella’s podcast months ago. I read Matt’s material on Catalyst Athletics site, and I love his book Olympic Weightlifting for Masters.
As he was wrapping up the interview, Scott asked Matt (who is also a high school teacher and coach) about his favorite books. If I recall, he was asking what book(s) Matt would recommend to his high school athletes.
His reply caught me, and the interviewer by surprise: The Old Man and The Sea, by Ernest Hemingway. Our natural expectation was that he would choose a strength or weightlifting tome, or perhaps one of his own books. But he went with a modern classic. His rationale: The story of Santiago, is one of dogged determination and persistence, in the face of insurmountable adversity. The lessons learned in that brief story transcend any trial you may face, whether your world appears to be crumbling around you, or you are standing with a heavy barbell at your feet.
That evening, I downloaded the digital and audio versions of that story. I have read it twice, and listened to it several times. But even more fascinating to me is that I have read more than a book a week since the new year began. I often read and listen to them. My subject matter has also been diverse: business, self-improvement, biographies and fiction. I am also re-reading some of them, which has never happened.
I write frequently. Much more frequently than my blog-published essays would suggest. Less than half of what I write is ever shared. But the more I write, the more curious I become about those who have written before me. “Real” writers, not simply daily journal people like myself.
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry S. Truman
Facebook and Twitter are immediate, and fleeting. Blogs and essays require more thought. But books…, books require much thought, time and commitment. Both for the writer and the reader. That slow process makes the ideas brought forth in a book much more coherent, well-structured, better articulated and perhaps even timeless.
When I read “the Internet”, I always feel rushed, because there is a deluge of “more” coming with the next refresh of my browser. But when I sit down with a book, regardless of whether its form is digital, or paper, time slows down. I must take time to engage with the author. Through words, the author has the power to transport me to another time and place, and oftentimes, to see the world through someone else’s eyes.