Thursday, March 4, 2010

Camping, Habits and Health

Perhaps you may recall the 'time and health' discussion from my last blog post. I pretty much beat the 'time' horse to death. ( This has gotten to be a New Years tradition. ;-) Now let's take a little closer look at the 'health' side of that coin. As mentioned last month, what is life without good health? Answer: Miserable.

As it turns out camping is a potentially great mechanism to positively impact your health and the health of those in your care! Here is why.

If there is one thing you can say about us human beings, and probably most other animals, it is that we truly are creatures of habit. For example, if you want to know what you will be doing this Monday just look at what you did last Monday and I am going to guess there will not be a whole lot that is different.

Perhaps a typical 'workday' might look something like this: Turn off alarm - take shower - dress - eat breakfast - "goodbye honey" kiss - drive to work (curse traffic ) - get to work (curse boss) - do the same old stuff (curse stuff) - drive home ( curse traffic ) - (pick up bread and milk on the way home - "Hi honey" kiss - have the "how was you day?" conversation - pop a beer - eat dinner - turn on TV - hit the couch ....so much for that day.

Perhaps your routine is somewhat different, I certainly hope so anyway. Surely you have a routine of one kind or another, though. Incidentally, a routine is simply a collection of habits. This is an important thing to note because we love, if not worship, our routines. We are married to, and devote our lives to our routines. Therefore a paramount reality is that our routines can make us or break us in many ways including time management, health and therefore happiness in general.

Now let's look at a typical weekend routine which should start on Friday night. Check planner for this weekend's camping trip - make menu/meal plan - load camping checklist - head for store - get food/ice/gas - head for hills - setup camp - start fire, laugh, frolic, play music, tell stories, poems and lies - sleep - up early -watch sunrise (best part of the day) - go fishing - catch breakfast - cook breakfast - eat breakfast - take nap - go biking - eat lunch - take nap - go hiking - take pictures - have fun - cook dinner - eat dinner - take nap , -go back to start fire and repeat through Sunday---- - break camp - head home - unload and stash gear.

What both of these routines have in common is that they have evolved into what they are. They came to be by virtue of both circumstances and our own volition. Also notice that routines drive behaviors but behaviors create routines.

Let me suggest that any and all portions of these routines, right down to the most intimate detail, can be changed. This relationship between our behaviors and our routines is the key to many doors. Good behaviors create good routines and bad behaviors create bad routines. And the routine perpetuates the behaviors that created it. Yikes! That is both scary and hopeful. Additionally, the longer the routine is allowed to persist the harder it will be to change. Again, that is both scary and hopeful.

Kind of makes one feel a little like a dog chasing it's own tail, doesn't it?

Here is the point. Camping might very well be the best vehicle for altering bad behaviors and reinforcing good ones because it offers three wonderful features:
  1. camping necessitates a vastly different routine than normal.

  2. camping is done in a remote and potentially isolated setting.

  3. many camping activities encourage physical exercise, an imperative to good health.

So, he who wishes to quit smoking, for example, might find camping trips will break his normal smoking routines while supplying an isolated, smoke-free environment. ( Where I camp there are no convenience stores so, no cigarettes = no smoking. ) Additionally, camping might encourage and after dinner walk or other alternate behavior in place of the after dinner smoke.

I have a friend that refers to this notion as 'detox camping'. (I like that name.)

So this year "camping for health" is going to be my battle cry. In case you are wondering, the thing that precipitated this 'healthy camping goal' was the most salient feature of my latest camp kitchen product demonstration video. That would be my pot belly! I looked at it and thought "you really need to fix that". It's been there for years so I have the feeling that is not going to be an easy task. Something tells me that this year's camping trips are going to be without potato chips and soda pop, among other things.

So join me in my quest for a healthier existence as this year we camp ourselves out of bad habits and into good ones.

Next month I am going to beat the 'health' horse to death. Till then, let's get in a few practice 'detox camping' trips.

Go camping!

Ken