Over-consumption

Goodbye, Spongebob!

Hiking to Cascade Falls

Hiking to Cascade Falls

When my husband first suggested that we get rid of cable television, I thought that something must be seriously wrong with him. I mean, our lives didn’t revolve around the TV schedule, but we enjoyed the occasional weekend marathon of reruns or old movies. We both work full time, my husband sometimes chalking up over 70 hours in a week, and we are raising three young children. Solid, reliable “TV time” was limited to a handful of shows we watched faithfully and the fall football season. In recent years we had gotten in the habit of turning on the TV as a means of escape, to distract us from the trials and tribulations of real life. So what in the world had provoked this ESPN-loving fan of teen flicks to not just willingly but voluntarily recommend dropping 90% of our channels? The kids! Our children had become over-consumers of television, turning it on first thing in the morning and returning to it any chance they had. It was causing countless arguments, contributing to bad attitudes, distracting them from their daily responsibilities, and essentially ruling their worlds. So we got rid of it! And to be honest, we don’t miss it at all! Well, except for when a Virginia Tech football game isn’t aired on local networks nor streaming online. The bigger, more important results we see are kids with better attitudes, more active time, enhanced creativity, and fewer power struggles. My husband and I find ourselves getting more done, spending more quality time with each other and with our kids, and being more purposeful about our TV time. You see, almost every show on cable is available online, if not immediately then within a few days. Now, rather than turning on the TV and browsing the stations purely out of habit, we have to get online and search purposefully for a specific show to watch. There are surprisingly few shows that are worth this effort! We have learned that when we consume, whether it be TV, food, or anything else, we must do it with purpose!

Defining the problem

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the prefix “over-” is defined as “so as to exceed or surpass; excessive; to an excessive degree” and the definition of “consume” includes “to do away with completely; to spend wastefully; to eat or drink especially in great quantity; to engage fully; to waste or burn away”. Together these sound dreadful! So it’s no surprise that over-consumption leaves us feeling empty, alone, and wasted away. Yet as Americans, we are the champions of over-consumption, both collectively and as individuals.

What are you over-consuming?

Ask yourself, “What am I over-consuming?”, and if you are a parent, “What are my children over-consuming?” Then be honest in answering. Some probable areas:

  • Food – According to the CDC, 33.8% of adults in the US are obese. Even worse, 17% of children ages 2-19 are obese.
  • Alcohol – Most doctors and health experts recommend 2 or fewer alcoholic beverages per day. What many ignore is that these numbers are based on suggested serving sizes of 12 oz. of beer, 5 oz. of wine, and 1.5 oz of liquor.
  • Screen Time – The American Association of Pediatrics recommends 2 hours or less of total screen time a day for children and teens. Yet with the increased popularity of TV, the Internet and video games, our youth are spending astonishing amounts of time in front of a screen. I was dumbfounded when some of the high school students I teach started comparing their screen times on various video games. On one popular game, many had logged 15-30 days within 6-9 months. Keep in mind that a “day” is a complete 24 hours of usage. I quickly began to research, suspecting exaggeration, but found that surveys show that the average gamer on each of the most popular games logs around 20 hours per week. On one game. Not including television or social networking time. WOW!
  • Material Goods – It only takes one episode of a reality show about hoarding to make us think twice about all of the “stuff” we have!
Examining the Creek

Examining the Creek

Why?

The finger can be pointed in many directions: capitalism, technology, the breakdown of the family unit, the need for instant gratification, just plain old bad habits…the list goes on. No matter the reason, the root is the same. We are trying to fill our souls with things that cannot fill them. Thus, the need to consume more and more, yet never feel satisfied.

Consuming with Purpose

Swimming at Cascade Falls

Swimming at Cascade Falls

Once you identify areas of over-consumption in your own life, think about alternatives. What could you be consuming, or perhaps doing, that would bring you greater fulfillment and deeper satisfaction? Make a list of ideas that will actually nurture your spirit and strengthen your relationships, and then use the list! In my family, we have opted to fill our former TV time with things such as reading, prayer, playing board games and family outings. Spongebob and Dora just can’t compare to hiking along a creek through a lush forest to swim beneath a 69 ft. waterfall!

What is your soul crying out for? Consume with purpose and you will reap abundant rewards!

Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls

This entry was posted in Healthy Living, Inspiration, Nature and tagged , , , , by Lindsay Torry. Bookmark the permalink.
Lindsay Torry

About Lindsay Torry

Lindsay lives in Roanoke, Virginia with her husband and three young children. She works as a high school Spanish teacher. Inspired by references to the language and culture of her father’s childhood in Costa Rica and Bolivia, Lindsay values diversity and strives to teach her students cultural tolerance and respect. She enjoys traveling, reading, bible studies, relaxing on the beach, and dancing with her children. Always awestruck by the capabilities of the human body, today Lindsay has a passion for health and fitness thanks to her husband, Ché, who is completing his doctorate in exercise physiology and owns and operates LifeWise Fitness, Inc. Together, Lindsay and Ché try to make health and fitness a lifestyle not only for themselves, but for their children as well.

10 thoughts on “Over-consumption

    • Joy, you are so right. I make sure that each and every single day I spend some time in nature. It sometimes is as simple as enjoying coffee in my backyard while watching the birds and squirrels. It is grounding, comforting and quite frankly revitalizing. Lindsay is right on with her words of wisdom. She has such insight!!! We all can gain such peace when we live with purpose!!

    • You’re right! And it usually doesn’t cost us a penny! I find that being in nature truly helps me with perspective. It’s a great reminder of the big picture and seems to help melt our troubles away!

  1. Hello! I am an old friend of Jamie’s. I truly enjoyed this read. The Appalachain Trail is my recent release. Talk about consuming! The last excursion I went on lasted 13 days. On my back was 29 lbs of food and gear. The last day I spent in a “campground” awaiting my ride. Geez, people everywhere in their 10,000 lb RV’s! In tow, another, 4,000 lbs of STUFF! All for a weekend? My Lord our priorties are out of sync. Thanks again!

    • Andy, first of all yes we are old friends, I agree. But, we two are young at heart, right?!? With that said, I am eternally grateful for all the wonderful people I have been honored to met, to know, and to learn from. Lindsay has it so right. We are far too consumed with too much stuff. Our society has led us in this direction in order for capitalism to flourish. I am not against this in theory but, I am against the idea that this is reality. Reality is nature. After all, were Adam and Eve created in a mansion on the hill? No! What was around them was nature- a beautiful garden! We have so removed ourselves from nature they we don’t connect with it anymore. It is time for us to get back to the basics of life and I believe (as clearly does the author of this post, Lindsay Torry) that much of the basics awaits us in nature- we just have to be there to see, hear and feel it. By the way, I am honored to know you my friend. You and your wilderness ministry rock!

    • Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I would imagine that you find the same thing that I discovered for the first time in Mexico – that sometimes when we remove all of the “stuff” and simplify, we are able to reach a much deeper, more authentic sense of peace and enjoyment! And I agree with you COMPLETELY that our priorities are so out of sync. I think it is a daily battle, or really even moment-to-moment, to resist the superficial and harmful priorities that plague our culture. Thanks for your input!

  2. How true this is! After moving to WV and not knowing a soul, we decided to get in the car and drive. I packed us each a water bottle in the hopes of finding some trails. We found a local park with tons of hiking trails and even a couple of caves, which the kids loved exploring. Who knew nature could be so entertaining and even better…FREE.

    • Amen, Crystal! I know that thrifty domestic divas such as yourself truly appreciate free family outings like hiking, and what an added bonus that it wears the kids out! Not only do parents get to enjoy nature along with our children, but then we get bonus quiet time when they go to sleep early :)

  3. Remember when we moved into our house, we didn’t have cable for 2 years, they couldn’t get it to us without it costing an arm and a leg. This was before direct TV. We had more fun after dinner, playing game, talking about our day and helping each other with homework or projects. The reason we gave into cable was to get the local and world news. To this day dad and I watch very little TV.

  4. Gosh this was an awesome post Lindsay! I think about these things daily. Kids have gotten so used to playing Wii’s, I Touch’s, I Pads, watching TV, etc. that they don’t know how to be as I would say “one with nature” or “one with themselves”. They are so used to constant stimulation that when they are not playing one of their electronics, they don’t know what to do with themselves. What happened do imagining and exploring and playing with simple things? It is truly sad. I will not allow my daughter to grow up and learn to rely on electronics for entertainment. I pray constantly that as she gets older she will see the value and beauty in things such as nature.

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