Live light, be more - save the planet

Cycling, July 31, 2019

This article was printed in the NZ and AUS Trail runner magazine - it was titled "Making Real Change". I believe we can all make meaningful changes in our daily lives that will not only save the planet but make us better people

Like most NZers I love swimming in our beautiful oceans and making use of our incredible bush and forests. Without these areas then trail running won't be able to be enjoyed by our grandkids.  Most people have heard that the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report has stated that we have until 2030 to "drastically" change the way we live to ensure that we give our grand-kids a fighting chance to have a life on planet earth (let alone enjoy the majesty of running off road!) If we don't change then the average global temperature will rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius and will set off an irreversible, negative cascade of events that will create climate chaos. Mother nature will stop nourishing and start violent tantrums making it very difficult for most people on this planet to live. There will be climate change migrants as the land won't support crops due to heat and flooding. Severe weather events will cripple our insurance and banking systems, and there will be social breakdown. Yes this makes for difficult reading, and yes it's MUCH easier just to ignore it, deny it (humans have very little effect on the climate blah blah, the earth just does through these cycles blah blah), and carry on with our important lives paying back dept and planning the next holiday to escape our very stressful important jobs.

Since going down this rabbit hole it has come to the point where our family has had to change. I love my kids, and I know I'll love my grandkids. I imagine talking to my grandkids and I don't want to be on the wrong side of climate change history. I know humans have a large effect on what’s happening (97% of experts agree, those that don't are funded by the oil industry), and if I want to live with any authenticity then I must act in accordance with my desire for the next generations to enjoy this beautiful planet as I do. Swimming in the ocean and being in the bush is my happy place and I have NO right to act taking that away from my offspring. 

So what can you do to stop Armageddon? Heaps. You can gradually change some habits and make a difference. I now have a "live light" day in which I ride my bike to work (unless it's pouring with rain), and fast until dinner that night.  Tuesday is my "rest day" from my usual training sessions and is the perfect day for me to live with a light footprint on the earth. I complete my usual habits on Tuesday like my 10min of yoga, writing, and my invigorating cold shower but I also now ride my bike to work and fast to really live MEGA light for 1 day a week. 

Driving a 1.5 tonne car to go to work is very resource heavy. Not only are we producing 2.3L of CO2 for every litre of petrol used, it also emits a whole range of noxious gases that contribute to health issues and sitting in a car adds to the growing amount of inactivity that most NZ adults can ill afford. Riding a bike is a far healthier option on so many levels (you could also run to work). It allows you to add to cardiovascular exercise time, it's a far more energy efficient mode of transport, and it takes cars off congested roads. It's the way so many progressive cities are going to create a healthier, more friendly environment. Cities like Amsterdam, Zurich, Copenhagen, and Paris are all reducing car parking, increasing parking costs, and planting more trees. Almost 50% of all people in Amsterdam travel to work by bike. Nudging people towards a healthier mode of transport is part of the "drastic" changes required to save us and the planet. 

Eating a plant based diet is another way to reduce land and water use for producing food. Looking at the big picture growing animals to eat requires far more energy than plants. Also plants sequest carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, while animals do the opposite (while also producing urine and feces that can add to environmental issues). Food waste is also a problem. NZers on average waste almost 160,000 tons of food annually, while globally 1.3 billion tons of food is not consumed, and the dumped food produces methane - a very destructive greenhouse gas (almost 80 x more destructive than CO2 on a 20 year time frame). If you go without food completely for between 16-24hrs then not only are you living lightly but you are also helping your body shift into a "cleansing state" that allows the body to get rid of mutant proteins and other junk within the cells. This process named "autophagy" can only be accessed if the digestive system takes a break. I feel more alert and focused on my Tuesday afternoon compared to having lunch. Also, I feel energised that my Tuesdays are a day where I am making a noticeable difference to my children's ability to live on our beautiful planet. The ultimate win - win!

Drastic change doesn't have to be depriving. In fact, from what I'm finding hooking into habits that will save the world will also help move me towards a healthier state. So please have a look at riding your bike more and go without food for increased periods of time. Then once you entrench these lifesaving habits - add some more! Be more, have less, save the world, and improve your health. Please start now. 

Expansive WELLNESS habits to save the world and make you healthier

  1. Ride your bike rather than taking the car (unless it's an EV)
  2. Fast (for 16-24hrs once a week)
  3. Eat a plant based whole food diet
  4. Look at investing in renewable energy eg solar
  5. Take shorter cold showers - so invigorating!
  6. Reduce, recycle, refuse, reuse.
  7. Less screen time - more sleep time
  8. Spend time with inspiring people that want to make the world better
  9. Go for a run in the bush or go for a swim in the ocean, lake or river. 
  10. Be prepared to change your old habits. 

Brad Dixon is a sports physiotherapist, coach, and wellness evangelist based at EVERFIT Physio & Coaching. His passion is helping people strive for their potential with promotion of enhancing daily habits. The power is in your hands! Connect with Brad at www.everfit.co.nz, and on the book of FACE, Strava, and Instagram (everfitcoach).