If you don’t commit, it’s not legit.

Posted on December 15, 2010


New word for you: SACBE. Now stay with me & you’ll see where we’re going… This is the word for the “White Roads’ of the ancient Maya world. They were roads coated with limestone stucco, going from Maya cities inland on the Yucatan Peninsula all the way to the coast; all white so that travelers on these roads could see their way during dark nights. The longest one stretched 300km and the average distance was 100km.

The Maya built these roads without the use of machines (obviously, this is ancient civilization after all) but even more impressively, they did it without the use of the wheel. They had the wheel but they did not use it for practical purposes. They made these roads using human power, and one of the most impressive things? Each road was perfectly straight and level. This was done using enormous slabs of stone that they laid on the road to flatten in.

So why are we having this lesson in Maya history? I learned this bit of history on one of our tours on vacation & it stuck with me because of what a clear picture of just how ACTIVE previous civilizations were! I mean seriously! – the men were lifting slabs of rock weighing several tons, setting them down, lifting them again, and moving them on down the road for several hundred kilometers! It would be fairly tough to be obese in a society where you’re expending the amount of calories it would take to build those roads!

So our ancestors were busy hauling around giant stones and we have people today who struggle through an elliptical workout in their Shape Up shoes…..I’d say that’s a pretty steep drop off in activity level & perceived exertion. Don’t get me wrong, technology has evolved beautifully & we should appreciate it! We have many luxuries that our ancestors did not & that makes life much easier than it probably was hundreds of years ago. But maybe not.

Life back then, the best that we know, included cooking meals at home – done by the women, the men heading off to build roads & temples & do commerce with other communities, the women staying back to oversee the camp, clean, gather foliage & berries for food & medicine & raise their kids to be good people who don’t run around killing people as much as the Aztecs did. The “Workout” for the day was THE DAY. And there was little signs of obesity & disease in the area – in fact – the Maya people who still live in the area, and whom we got to meet a few of them on our tour, did not have any Western diseases (heart disease, diabetes, cancer) until they began eating a Western diet. There is NO evidence that those diseases were a major killer UNTIL they started adopting the Coca Cola lifestyle.

And this is what happens in every native community that adopts Western diets – they get sick & increase mortality from disease. I’d just like to remind you all that the “Western Diet” is what you may be eating today – pop, grains, sugar, processed foods, inactivity – yep – inactivity is a part of the Western Diet. These native communities are like a petri dish for a scientist who wants to study disease from lifestyle/food modification. Dr. Weston A Price did just that & was a leader in exploring this problem, read about what he found in native tribes here.  

So if life consisted of basic tasks that required good strength & stamina, but required little in the “juggling many plates at once” realm that most of us live in today – was life really harder back then or is it harder now? Hard to say, since I totally appreciate my remote start for my car on freezing mornings like this one.

BUT! One thing’s for sure – many Americans are struggling to be healthy & live a healthy life because it’s “easy” to run through the drive-thru. In that regard, I believe it’s much harder to do fitness today than it was centuries ago. But it’s nowhere near impossible – as my friends who are competitive in running, triathlon & mountain hiking are training upwards of 8-13+ hours a week + have a family/job/house/errands/blahblahblah to take care of. To live a healthy lifestyle today, you’ve got to do one thing – it’s what the Maya did in their time – commit to the task at hand then follow through on your commitment.

These White Roads got built & have stood the test of time. It’s doubtful that the Maya people were wishy washy about the project. Don’t be wishy washy about your health. The reality is that your health will have effects on future generations, just like the Roads still are present & functional today. Your health plays the same role in today’s world – you keep your health, you can do more work here on Earth, you can set examples for future generations (your kids, other people’s kids), those kids live healthier lives, do more in their life, and the pattern will continue.

But it only happens once you’ve committed and then follow through on your commitment. The Mayas didn’t get half way done and figure “m’eh, we’ll just throw some gravel here & call it a day.” Those roads were built to open up travel, commerce, and community amongst neighboring tribes. Your health opens up the door for just as many things for you. Did Mayan people always get up bright eyed and bushy tailed to get at the 2 ton rock carrying? Probably not. But surely they knew that what they were doing mattered, and they mustered up the energy to make it happen. Your health matters. Seriously. I’m not kidding right now.

Your health makes all the difference in the quality of life you lead – in how much you’re able to do things with your kids – if you’re even able to have kids – where you end up spending your $$(diabetes meds or fun trips with your spouse & friends, which sounds better?) what kind of legacy you lead (sure you can leave a legacy from the chair, but you may be limited by how long you have to build that legacy if your health poops out early) -it’s all affected by your health at some level. So get legit with your health & commit now to be healthier in 2011 than you were in 2010.