NO Obesity Epidemic Pt. 3: What YOU Can Do to Get to a Healthy Weight
Sorry this post has been delayed so long!
If you read my other posts about how obesity is a symptom of a larger problem and some of the possible causes of obesity then you knew that this one had to be coming. Now we discuss what you do about it!
The good news is that there are answers. The bad news is that the correct answers aren’t necessarily the easy answers. Very few things that are worthwhile come to us easily. For instance… Think about how easy it is to pack on a few pounds. See where easy gets you? So that’s my first piece of advice: Abandon Easy. There are so many quick fixes out there: premade foods, diet shakes, pills, fasts, etc. The two things they all have in common is that they get you quick results with minimal effort and your success will more than likely be temporary.
The reason these programs have little lasting value is that normal people don’t want to eat food from a little packet or avoid carbs or track points for the rest of their lives. It’s exciting while you’re losing weight but what happens when you finally hit your goal? The only thing that has changed about you is the number you read on the scale. Typically these approaches leave you no wiser when it comes to achieving a long term change to a healthy lifestyle. Yes… once you stop counting points or eating mail ordered dehydrated grub or start eating carbs again you will go right back to the old you. Trust me. PLEASE! You don’t want fast and easy! It’s a trap.
So what’s the answer? Well, I’m not in danger of winning a Nobel prize for this but it’s diet and exercise (don’t stop reading). I’m sorry there is just nothing else that works as well. If you want to be healthy then you have to eat healthy food in healthy amounts. It’s not rocket science. If you want a great physique and a high functioning body you have to exercise. There is NO substitute for these things.
No amount of science will ever replace the value of these fundamental building blocks of good health. Remember that my whole premise is that obesity is a symptom not a disease. It is a symptom of our lifestyle, our attitudes and our values. Obesity starts between the ears, not at the waist line. For some of us it starts when we think that things like work or education or even family are more important than health. You can’t do your best at those things if you don’t have your health. You don’t learn as well. You can’t work as hard. You won’t live long enough to be with your family. We exchange health for convenience and comfort and it’s killing us. Now we are raising generations of children to chase comfort and to take shortcuts.
If you want to lose weight the key is YOUR diet not a diet. You can’t live your life on some gimmick from a fad diet. Start looking at your diet instead. Are you eating fresh fruits and vegetables? Are you getting nuts and grains? Are you limiting your sugar intake? Are you eating too much or too little? Are you eating too often or not often enough? If you want to get to a healthy weight the most important thing you can do it to eat in a healthy way. Here are some of my guidelines for healthy eating:
- Eat 5-6 small meals each day in place of the traditional breakfast, and dinner
- Make whole grains, fruits and vegetables most of what you eat
- Drink water instead of soft drinks (diet and regular). Follow this formula: 1/2 your body weight is the number of ounces of water your should drink each day
- Don’t wait to get that first meal of the day
- Never go for seconds
- Always bring food with you so you are never at the mercy of a restaurant
- Eat meat sparingly
- Avoid foods with a bunch of ingredients (especially ones that sound like they belong in a chemistry set)
- Drink less alcohol
- Stay away from sugar and stay away from High Fructose Corn Syrup*
There is a misconception out there that you can work off the calories that you eat each day. Ok, well scientifically this is true but practically people who try to simply work off the fat without fixing their eating usually fail. However, exercise is critical in making a lasting escape from obesity for a number of reasons. It has been said that if you could make a pill that delivers all of the benefits of exercise it would be more valuable than the cure for cancer. Exercise has powerful psychological and physiological effects on the human body. So its about much more than just calories in versus calories out. Exercise is the most potent catalyst to making a lasting change in your body and your life. People who exercise are able to keep weight lost off for longer. They can conquer depression, endocrine disorders such as diabetes, heart and cardiovascular disease and more. Your body actually treats the food that you consume differently when you exercise regularly. Your appetite changes. You start to feel different about yourself. Exercise is the currency with which you get to purchase a new healthy life. Your body will not accept any counterfeits. Remember that it’s not just about what the scale says or your waist size. It is about how your body functions. You WANT TO EXERCISE. It will improve your health and make your change last like nothing else can. Here are some guidelines for healthy living and exercise:
- Find a form of exercise you enjoy. You don’t have to be a runner or a weight lifter to get in shape
- Do something every day. Shoot for at least a continuous 30 minutes.
- Work hard enough for exercise to be uncomfortable
- More intensity is more effective
- Set physical goals such as participating in a race, tournament, climbing a mountain, etc.
- After you accomplish one goal set another and go get it!
- Get your family/friends/co-workers in on the act. They will be your exercise support group.
There it is…. diet and exercise. You knew the answer before you even read this article. It’s not complicated, it’s not expensive. You CAN make a lasting change in your life. Ab machines, surgeries and diet plans can’t give you the kind of change you really are looking for. They can’t show you what you are capable of and how good you can feel about yourself. That can only be earned and it can never be purchased.
Speaking of purchasing… the weight loss industry is a multibillion dollar business that feeds off of temporary success and long term failure. If the 15 minute workout on the cover of that magazine really got you thin why do they publish a new one every issue? If you could stay thin without eating specially formulated diet foods how would they stay in business? Beware of anything that promises (and even delivers) fast results. You want a slow sustainable solution that doesn’t involve anybody else making a fortune off of your weightloss.
If you are looking for a great starting point for making your change I suggest visiting a website called SparkPeople (www.sparkpeople.com)**. This is an online community of people just like you, from where you live. They have all the information you need to eat right, exercise well and to get the emotional support and motivation you need. It’s free and effective.
*High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is the food additive that in my opinion has had as much to do with America’s obesity problem as any other food ingredient. While there is a lot of debate as to whether HFCS is a danger I hold this opinion because it is one of the most common high calorie sweetners in our food supply and most poeple don’t understand that it is not healthier than sugar just because it comes from corn. There are also the questions of how the body metabolizes this sugar, the safety of processing methods and why it’s prevelance in the market place coorelates so closely with the rise of obesity in the US.
** I have no vested interested of stake in the SparkPeople website or organizaiton.
- NO Obesity Epidemic Pt. 2: What’s Making Us Chunky? (yourbodyofhealth.com)