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There are no short cuts

Por Mariel Fiori
August 2017
Lately, this is a phrase that I find myself repeating more and more often. Sometimes there are paths that are shorter than others, but only in a literal sense. Whether we are trying to lose weight, improve our health, save money, or fix our country’s politics, I do not believe in so-called short cuts.
Why is it that pills and magical powders for weight loss are advertised everywhere, but a third of this country is still obese? The same is true for every new fad diet- be it liquid-only, or fibers-only, protein-only, or any other dubious solution. If all these methods delivered the promised results, we would all be wearing size small within one or two months, extra large clothes would be hemmed and taken in, and diabetes would become a rare disease. As we know, this is not the case.
Why is it that, in some parts of the world, people live to see one hundred years, yet in over here some people barely reach sixty due to heart attacks, cancer, Alzheimer’s and other afflictions? I have observed that the people who lead long and healthy lives not only tend to consume few processed foods, but also maintain a lifestyle that benefits them: little stress, enough rest, and a good network of family and friends. Have you heard of the World Happiness Index?
In terms of achieving health, this country has many factors working against us: the World Health Organization has already stated that the United States has the worst statistics of any industrialized country and, if we keep it up, we will have the same life expectancy as Mexico by 2030 (no irony here). The insufficient and inequitable health care system that we have is one of the major causes, according to the studies that these international organizations have conducted (and according to our own experiences). Furthermore, it does not help that we have the dollar sign marked on our foreheads. As consumer citizens of a capitalist economy, we often lose ourselves in the incredible number of options within our reach. The only think that can save us is our own sane judgment.
We refer to this judgment as common sense, although it seems that common sense is not so common. Instead of wasting money on “quick fixes,” we must invest in organic and balanced food (in moderation, of course), exercise, mindfulness, and find the balance between work, relaxation, and family. We live in the era of microwavable food, in which a whole meal can be prepared in just two minutes. Are you really going to eat that? We are what we eat. If we eat badly, we feel badly. If we eat junk, what does that make us?
What about getting rich quickly? The chances of winning the lottery are one in 175 million (powerball), and one in 45 million if you play the New York Lottery. What about the chances of being struck by lightning? One in 700 thousand. This is to say that you are more likely to be struck by lightning than to win the lottery. Hope springs eternal, of course, but we have to be honest with ourselves and find more realistic ways to get the lives we wish for. This holds true for our bodies as well as for our finances; as the saying goes, it takes 95 percent perspiration and 5 percent inspiration- or, as they say where I’m from, if you want the stars, you’ll have to pay for them (el que quiere celeste, que le cueste).
I have written a lot about politics in these columns, but to be clear, short cuts do not exist in the political sphere either. With the election of Trump (the one who asked us to vote for him because he was going to drain the swamp in Washington, remember?), the people who had been half-asleep suddenly awoke, mobilized everywhere, and many communities have seen positive changes- from “all are welcome/ todos son bienvenidos aqui” signs, to new regulations in favor of immigrants. However, we cannot let our guard down now, not even when the administration changes hands, because apathy will lead once again us into a situation like the present one- or even worse.

Thus, we cannot allow ourselves to be fooled by instant solutions in any aspect of life, be it private or public. There are no shortcuts. What we must do, dear readers, is continue to work and educate ourselves. It is harder to sell us beads and trinkets if we are well informed.
Mariel Fiori
Managing Editor
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La Voz, Cultura y noticias hispanas del Valle de Hudson



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