Friday, August 17, 2012

4th vacation observation - how we treat our bodies

This vacation was a seaside vacation. I've detailed before how the first part of the trip was in a town with mostly local tourists from Croatia and the remaining two spots were tourists from all over - Croatia, other European countries, USA, Australia and some Asia.

Everywhere people were going to the beach during the day, strolling, drinking, eating ice cream and listening to music in the city at night.

Most day trips to other islands involved some sightseeing, but always time to cool off on the rocky beaches.

Everyone goes to the beach - all ages and sizes. Babies, young children, teens, 20s on up to 70s. Most men wear speedos or tighter boxer style shorts (with some wearing American board style swim shorts), all women of all ages and sizes wear bikinis, kids under 4 or so go naked.

When we were in Biograd, the people would head to the beach in the morning and spend the entire day there. In Mljet and Dubrovnik, tourists did hikes, bike rides, tours in between bouts at the beach for cooling down, but basically were in the sun all day long.

These tourists and locals were brown and I mean brown. Either that, or they were fried red over their brown tan. Even at the end of our vacation when we had been outside for many hours every day, we were still so white - tan for us, but white compared to everyone else. Part of it was that we are extremely fair, but we are also very careful with the sun. Most of these people on the beach? Not so much.

The entire week we were in Biograd, only our family had rashguards to protect us from the midday sun. I'm also guessing we were one of the few who used strong sunscreen. People were brown or red. Lots and lots of sunburns. When we were on Mljet I still didn't see any tourists with rashguards even though there were more foreign travelers. Only when we got to Dubrovnik did I see any other families using rashguards and only on little toddlers and they were American. Only two families out of thousands used rash guards. In the United States at the pools midday? 10-15% of kids will be in rashguards, those under 2 to 3 years old, about 50%.

That was during the day - the big skin bake. Hadn't any of them heard of the dangers of too much sun? Or was a good tan worth the risk? Was a tan a status symbol? Like, "Look, I have enough money to go to the sea and bake myself all day while you had to stay back and work?" I have no idea why they do it. Frying themselves in the sun, but everyone we saw was super tan from serious time out in the sun.

In the evenings, everyone came into town - had dinner, had drinks, strolled. I get shocked every time I come to Croatia at the number of smokers of all ages. I swear it's near 100%, but my husband says that's not true, just that it seems like a lot because I'm not used to seeing it in public in the US, but it is a shockingly high number of smokers of all ages even he will admit smoking is a big problem. One of our last nights there, a German group sat down next to us. A very good looking, very fit, athletic group of 3 couples. I thought to myself, "These are athletes, I bet they don't smoke." Yet, within a couple minutes of sitting down, they all lit up.

Again, I was shocked, don't they all know how bad smoking is for them? Why are so many people smoking cigarettes?

And, of course, I've touch already on the increasing obesity problem.

Here I was on vacation and I was just shocked at: 1. the number of increasingly heavy young people. 2. the super tan, ignoring all warnings about sunburns. and 3. the heavy smoking. All things we all know are bad for us. We all know that right?

Then why do we do these things? I'm not just picking on these tourists and locals - I'm guilty too, obviously. Hello - I used to weigh 275 pounds! I knew that was bad for me! I like diet soda - I know that's bad for me. Stuff like that. Why do we persist in doing things we know shorten our lives and diminish the quality of our lives? I just don't get our human tendency to self-destruct.

Highest weight: 275  Now: 179.0

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