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Checkered Flag Doesn’t Always Go With Life in the Fast Lane

By Martha Michael

Making the Indy 500 Healthy

The way our bodies race through life, it’s no wonder we need frequent pit stops and suffer the occasional dangerous spinout. Regardless of your pace, it’s forward motion that counts -- whether you’re the pole-sitter of the race or you start dead last. That’s an analogy because life, it turns out, is a lot like racing and surviving the Indianapolis 500.

Five-hundred miles at Indianapolis Motor Speedway every Memorial Day weekend makes for a long race, but speed isn’t the only factor when it comes to crossing the finish line at the Brickyard. When Alexander Rossi won in 2016, he was at one point 40 mph slower than his competition as he stretched his fuel and saved himself a pit stop; he had to be towed to Victory Lane after taking the checkered flag. It’s the stuff of legend.

Start Your Engines

If a 16-ounce Monster Energy drink and some Speedway pork tenderloin sounds like proper fuel for your day, it may be worth it to engineer a different diet strategy. Although breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, it has been hard to keep the public on a healthy course when it comes to breakfast.

If you grew up in America, you’re familiar with Tony the Tiger and Toucan Sam, who may have unfavorably affected your cereal choices by hawking some of the least nutritious breakfast options available. Through years of school and government agencies informing the public about some cereals’ lack of nutrition, people began moving toward healthier choices -- such as yogurt and protein bars -- while cereal companies devised healthier versions of themselves. Unfortunately, consumer research firm Mintel found that cereals failed to win these customers back, so they’re returning to their sugary ways.

Wall Street Journal reporter Annie Gasparro told CBS News that Mintel numbers show cereal sales have nose-dived 11 percent in the last five years to around $9 billion in 2017. "The people who are eating cereal are eating it because it's fun and it tastes good and it looks fun with fun colors,” Gasparro says. “They aren't eating it to be healthy."

And because of our fast-paced lifestyle, it’s not just kids who are the targets of advertising. Parents eat sugary cereals too. But the Mayo Clinic suggests you act like an adult and compare: see if it matches up to the standards of a healthy breakfast:

  • Whole grain bagels, rolls, cereals, English muffins or waffles
  • Lean protein, from meat and eggs to legumes and nuts
  • Low-fat dairy products, including milk, low-sugar yogurts, and low-fat cheeses, such as cottage cheese and natural cheeses
  • Fruits and vegetables -- fresh or frozen; 100 percent juice drinks without added sugar, and fruit/vegetable smoothies

The Need for Speed

While our bodies are in the race, our minds are often like the fans in the stands who want to see Indycar racing speeds of 225 mph or more. Though we know that accelerating to 60 mph in three seconds is unnecessary, we still attempt ridiculous schedules of childcare, fitness, and workaholism with such “drag reduction” engineering as automatic renewals and time-saving commands to Alexa.

An article in the Daily Mail shares the results of a U.K. survey of 550 adults to explain the negative effects of fast-paced living. Researchers found that 85 percent of participants suffered from indigestion and 62 percent saw a reduction in sexual desire. The majority verbalized the desire to just relax while off work, but instead found it filled with shopping and taking care of family responsibilities, while 20 percent admitted they bring work home on the weekends. Registered dietitian Azmina Govindji sums it up: “Eating on the go, stressful jobs, busy social lives and a hectic lifestyle in general can compromise our overall well-being. This, in turn, can affect our digestion, especially if we eat unbalanced foods.”

She says the answer is found in finding a workable combination through simple manageable steps, creating a balance that’s healthier whether you are a stay-at-home parent, a busy professional, or sit all day at a desk. You don’t win the Indy 500 without being focused; any lapse can end up in the wall. Your personal life affords you a bit more leniency, fortunately, but you need to develop a game plan.

Pit Crew

Humans are complicated machines and cover a range of changing track conditions, but like a finely tuned car, we get a lot more miles with good maintenance. Like nine seconds to change four tires, adjust the wings, and take on 18.5 gallons of ethanol fuel, there are frequent ongoing practices that keep us on the road. Everyone needs a team of reliable individuals who contribute to our success and encourage us to take time for maximum wellness.

While you pre-set deliveries, book Calendar appointments, and set up automatic savings plans, you may be forgetting one important routine: Regularly scheduled chiropractic care increases your chance of mitigating painful problems and promotes early detection of illness. Spinal adjustments positively affect your central nervous system, the core of your body’s multifaceted functions; it’s like getting a new electronics system to power your engine.

Just as wing changes on an Andretti Autosport or Team Penske Indycar are meant to improve performance in the changing conditions, chiropractic is a routine of slight, but measurable, corrections that keeps your body in a healthy trajectory. You’re more likely to reap positive results from your workouts, and both physical and emotional benefits in your work and personal life.

The Snake Pit Party

Celebrating in the Turn 4 infield is fun for awhile -- who doesn’t love a huge party? -- but it’s what you do in the long-term that matters. “Life in the fast lane” like the Eagles describe may have worked in the past, but living on the edge could bring out a caution flag. That’s true whether you’re watching the Indy 500, NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, or Formula One’s Monaco Grand Prix this weekend or any race weekend.

Life involves more than just time in the infield partying, or sitting in the front stretch grandstand just watching. All of us have time in the driver’s seat to decide how much to accelerate, when to lift, and whether we’re in position to make it safely through the turn. After all, you can’t win the race if you don’t finish.

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