The first place a lot of people look for help when trying to change seems to center around weight and fitness. In the last post, I talked about fitness, “You don’t have to be a jock to be healthy!” All we really need to do to stay fit is move every joint every day and walk a lot more than we do.
We have grown around not up since the 1950’s
Before I talk about our eating habits, I have to tell you about some classic radio programs I’ve listened to on satellite radio lately. One series titled “The Fat Man,” follows the investigations of a private detective known by the moniker of the series title. The interesting thing about this 1950’s radio program, the six-foot fat man tips the scale at a “rotund” 220 pounds! Fat? Not in today’s society. He’d be considered normal on the streets of any of our cities.
Few adult men in the fifties weighed 200 pounds. Now half the adult men push the scales past the 200 mark. What’s happened?
The issue is quantity (calories) as much as quality (junk food)
The issue usually isn’t the quality of food as much as the quantity of food, although both play a huge part in the overall demise of our nation’s health. Everywhere you go to eat in both fast food and sit down restaurants, proprietors want to make sure you get a bargain and come back. Consequently, super-sized orders are the norm rather than the exception.
Many of the meals we eat out in restaurants have more calories in a single meal than we should consume in a day, yet we eat three or four of those every day. It’s no wonder we keep growing around instead of up. We consume more sugar in the United States than the rest of the world combined. Maybe that means we’re affluent, but it also means we’re killing ourselves through a multitude of long-term debilitating diseases.
So how do we fix it? First, quantity IS important. Calories count! If you think about the body as a machine, it needs fuel to operate, but if it doesn’t burn all the fuel (calories) you put into it every day, it stores it as fat. Some of you might think exercise will burn off whatever you eat. Think again. Exercise does change your metabolism a little, but only a little. That Oreo you eat after you walk a brisk mile will talk you another four or five miles to walk off. So what you just gained by walking, you destroyed with the Oreo.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Oreo’s, but their calories must go into the calorie count. From a simple math perspective, just sitting around doing whatever you do to live and breathe takes about 1200 – 1500 calories a day. Anything you eat more than that, you got to burn off through increased exercise (which doesn’t count for much when you look at the tables).
So the only effective way to lose weight is to learn to do push ups well – that is, push up from the table after eating just enough to satisfy your caloric requirements and no more.
What you eat gives you more or less energy, keeps the body tuned up, increases or decreases immediate availability of glucose in the bloodstream, keeps arteries from getting clogged, and all sorts of other things. Eating right puts the right nutrients and minerals in your system so you stay as healthy as you can.
Diets don’t work long term
So what does a good diet look like? Not like Atkins, or the Beach, LA Diet, or Mary Jane’s chocolate syrup diet, or anything else that deprives you of a balanced meal. The place to go for guidance is the food pyramid provided by the USDA at http://www.choosemyplate.gov. Other good sources can be found at the American Diabetes Association at http://www.diabetes.org or the American Heart Association at http://www.heart.org. Anyone would do well to use those two nutrition plans, particularly if a family history of diabetes or cardiac conditions exist.
Good nutrition isn’t hard, just something to pay attention to every day. Especially when it comes to eating more than we should. Start thinking about those second helpings as second hurtings! Count those calories and burn more than you eat if you really want to drop pounds. It really is the only way to lose weight. There’s just no fad diet or secret pill or even any amount of exercise that will make you lose without dropping calories at the same time.
So that’s the end of lesson number two on staying healthy. Two simple things so far. Move – not necessarily fast, but move every joint every day and walk whenever it’s practical instead of riding. Second, eat right and eat less than the normal American.
Simple stuff, we just need to discipline ourselves to do it. No one can make us. We have to find the intestinal fortitude to do it for ourselves.