HHCF Life Strategies Summer Series #6: Take Your Health Seriously

Working at John O’Connell High School in San Francisco has taught me a lot of things. A lot of it has been positive (kids who fight and beat the odds, those who overcome violence etc.). But some of its bad. One of the worst things I’ve seen, has been the way young people eat today. Its not good. But because people are 15 and 16 years old, they think eating “hot fries” and soda for breakfast (simply unthinkable when I was a kid) is natural and ok.

But look, its not. Your diet is the key to longevity. Real longevity. This might sound kind of cruel, but you can see how unfit most of you are. When I was a teenager, most kids were on sports teams and the families were more whole. This meant that most kids were athletic by nature and there was a system in place (stay home moms) to make sure you got the good home cooked meals you needed in your system.

Sadly, broken homes and tough economic times have made those experiences a thing of the past for most young people. I understand that you have to eat what you can get. Still though, stay looking for the best options and keep a healthy body/mind balance at the front of your mind. Rappers have been speaking up for healthy living for quite a while. Public Enemy,  Monie Love, Poor Righteous Teachers, Kam, Ice Cube, Dead Prez, RZA, GZA  and others have often spoken in their music about the importance of eating good food and avoiding excessive intake of meat.

I see the obesity all the reports talk about every day. I see it with the boys and the girls. I’m not just talking about boys being a little chubby and I’m not talking about demanding that the girls hold onto an unrealistic body image. I’m talking about looking at girls who are 15, as heavy as women who are 25 and nobody thinks anything is wrong with that.

I wish the families were more together. I wish the food thats good for you was cheaper. I wish poverty was not such an issue. Its a huge problem at the school I go to. Its a problem across this country in the schools. I never realized how important Dr. MLK Jr’s war on poverty was until I worked at this school.

At John O’Connell food is not just a problem- its a fashion statement. One day I saw a kid walking around with a big bag of chips. He kept walking in circles for like an hour with the bag. I said “Why are you still walking around with these chips man, you only have 3 in there?” He said “Girls will come talk to me looking for food if I have this bag. I’m tryna get a girlfriend man!” While it was funny on one hand, the other reality is that he knows food is scarce.

On another level though, in the chess world, I see another kind of unhealthy living. Parents have their kids so focused on chess, they let them gorge on fast food all the time. These kids are traveling to compete and eat burgers, cheap burritos (not the good kind like in The Mission) and fries all day. The parents have their kids living an imbalanced life on the chessboard. These kids (boys and girls) can play on a board all day, but run out of wind after just one race outside.

Chess is a sport and an art. If you are a kid playing chess, you need better food to keep your brain sharp and your body fit. Chess can be stressful (especially in competitive circles). so make sure you get a piece of fruit between all those burgers and ask for water instead of soda at least every other drink in your day. Daaim Shabazz of The Chess Drum is the only person  I have heard consistently speak about the importance of healthy living in the chess world.

My personal diet (when I’m eating right, we all slip now and again) is to eat an equal weight in veggies as I do meat. So, if I have an 8 0z. steak, I eat 8 oz. of bananas, apples, oatmeal with honey and cinnamon, salad- whatever. I try to start my day with a glass of water, before I eat anything. I also try to have no less than 2 cups of tea a day. Also, for every one cup of something sweet I might drink (soda or juice- but I try to drink soda as little as possible) I try to have 2 cups of water for every sweet drink I take in. Kids diabetes is on the rise for a reason!

I strongly suggest you all look into the effectiveness of The Gracie Diet. I do not practice it 100%. But everything that I have incorporated so far has benefited me.

At the end of the day I’m no doctor. You should consult your doctor about the way to live better. But you can start today by reading the cans of the food you buy. Look up the easiest and cheapest ways to buy food that fortify your body! Live to have an authentic mind and body balance.  Take your health seriously and live well!!

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About hiphopchessfederation

The Hip Hop Chess Federation fuses music chess and martial arts to promote unity, strategy and non-violence. Our goal is to improve the intellectual, cultural and artistic state of young American minds.
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