This past week I took my annual summer trip to Kauai with my wife, daughter, and two of our close friends with their baby. If you have never been to Kauai I highly recommend it as the scenery, food, activities, and culture was amazing and completely refreshing.
We had no idea what to expect as we had never been to Hawaii before and have mostly travelled throughout Europe on our summer trips, doing Italy in 2014 and Greece in 2013. From the moment we landed and got to the hotel the sense of connectedness to nature and community was extremely prevalent.
While at breakfast you could see the stand-up paddle boarders cruising in the bay, surfers catching waves, and snorkelers swimming far out to get a glimpse at the beautiful coral reef inhabited by lots of species (including my favorite, turtles).
On Monday night I had the opportunity to present my Eliteness Tour to Kilauea CrossFit, which was an unbelievable gym with the most hospitable members. Everyone came with a great attitude, notepads for note-taking, and most importantly an open mind.
The part that surprised me the most and made me pause for a moment was when I asked the group “How many people here sit in front of a computer for more than 4 hours a day?” Out of 20 people in the group only 1 hand went up, and this was someone who works in an admin role for a hotel group.
It was the first time I had ever spoken to a group where over 95% of the group did not sit all day. Usually when I ask the question about how many people sit in front of the computer for more than 4 hours at least 95% of the hands go up.
In Hawaii many of the people were in construction, outdoor adventures, farming, or other activities where they are moving and being part of the land.
Throughout the whole trip I would observe and talk to many of the locals, and I discovered that their lives were spent connecting with nature not only from a movement perspective, but nutritionally as well.
At the seminar, when I was talking about organic versus non-organic meats, one of the attendees said that the motto of the gym was ‘caught not bought’. These people were passionate about supporting their communities, land, and being part of the ecosystem to keep it sustainable.
The key point I took away from this trip throughout the whole week was how DIS-connected we are on the mainland, which in turn leads to so many DIS-eases. While in Hawaii, never did I hear a local talk about their sciatica, tight shoulders, joint pains, or many of the other problems we deal with on the mainland. I am not stating that all the people in Hawaii are healthy as many of the locals I saw were either overweight or obese, similar to many of the people in the mainland. A key difference is Hawaii is the 2nd healthiest state in the country
However, the takeaway was how much better we (myself included) need to be doing as a culture of moving and eating foods local to our environment.
In the mornings I would wake up, eat a banana, then either run, snorkel, or surf. Each morning I was out doing something active in the environment, and following that activity I would grab an Acai bowl or some smoothie made with local produce. Throughout the day I would snack on locally-grown chocolate and macadamia nuts. For either lunch or dinner I would eat fresh ahi usually caught the day before or that very morning.
On the mainland we have been gifted with a catch 22 of tons of gyms, supermarkets containing foods from all over the world, and jobs that put us in front of a computer all day. I am not saying that this is terrible though, as I love nothing more then doing CrossFit workouts and shopping at Whole Foods to gather the necessities for the week.
However, the question I want to raise, and this is something I will evaluate in my life, is how much more local could I get with my nutrition? What more could I do to be connected with my community as far as movement and exercise are concerned? Are there hikes or trails I have not been on that I could run? Are there farmers I could reach out to in order to eat more locally and BE part of my community? Are there areas in which I could go biking throughout my city? How about yoga lessons in the park? Are there suitable rock formations to go rock climbing that have been formed by nature?
If there is one thing I got from Kauai it’s that we go day to day through the grind of work, sleep, and repeat, without ever getting in touch with our communities and nature. Most people are so busy playing Keeping Up With The Joneses and letting their bodies rot instead of keeping up with their own bodies and health.