A Healthy Future Begins With the Choices You Make Today

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Well, April is over. Did you accomplish the things you’d planned during the month? I got started, if that counts. I guess it depends who’s keeping score. But you know how that works. Still, May is less than 24 hours away and, just like a brand-new week, it’s another chance to start over and get some things done.

Yesterday I mentioned how productive I was Sunday. I also mentioned that instead of the fifteen-minute sprints I’d recommended, I cleaned for a few straight hours, and then mowed the lawn. I felt pretty productive. But yesterday morning, my lower back decided to make me pay for it. By noon, I was in agony. It happens. And if this morning is any indication, today won’t be any better.

There are consequences for the things we do to our body. In my case, it’s a combination of age, weight, and too many years of treating my back like it was made of steel. Bad posture, poor lifting, and all those endless hours bouncing down the road in a vehicle with little to no lumbar support. Sooner or later, you have to pay the piper.

And of all those things, the only one I can do anything about today is my weight. It’s really a simple concept – the more weight you carry above your lower spine, the more that weight presses down on it. And the discs at the bottom get all the abuse. Lose the weight, and there’s less for the spine to support. Voila!

If only it were that simple. Anybody who’s ever tried to lose weight knows how hard it can be. I’m on a program that works, when I stick with the program. I’m back on it, and the results are beginning to show. But all it takes is a few days of hot lunches and the next thing you know, nothing but a hot lunch will do. Ice cream before bed becomes a habit just as quickly.

But as I said, there are consequences for the choices we make. Some are good, some not so good. Beyond just our weight, our body’s physiological health is largely determined by what goes in our mouth. And too much of anything just isn’t good. Especially when that “anything” isn’t good for you to begin with.

You’ve heard the term “empty calories.” It’s how we describe food (I use the word loosely) that’s rich in calories and devoid of any redeeming nutritional value. Twinkies would be at the top of the list, followed closely by donuts, potato chips, and a whole host of other items we know we shouldn’t be eating. But we do it anyway. And then we do it again. After all, nobody can eat just one.

That advertising slogan from the early 1960s hit the nail on the head. It was almost a challenge. “Betcha can’t eat just one!” And the truth is, your body is engineered to take that challenge and prove them right. Unless it’s a flavor you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, every one you eat makes you want at least one more. Next thing you know the bag is empty and you’re stuffed.

There’s a simple reason for that. When we eat simple carbohydrates, our body immediately turns those carbs into glucose. We get a mild energetic boost that we may not even notice, but it’s there. Until it’s not there, which happens in a matter of minutes. Then the boost is gone, and your body wants it back. And the cure is all so simple – just eat a few more.

I’m not even sure Frito Lay knew the science behind that slogan back in the 60s, but we know it today. And still, every grocery store has an entire aisle devoted exclusively to salty high-carbohydrate snacks.

We have choices during the day. Instead of refined carbs, we can choose more complex carbs. A piece of celery may not seem all that appealing at first, but if the only goal is to satisfy the urge to snack, it gets the job done. If you don’t like celery, try an apple or an orange. Don’t like fruit? Then maybe some sunflower seeds or a handful of mixed nuts.

We have all kinds of options at our disposal. And nobody says you can’t eat a few potato chips from time to time. It’s all about moderation and offsetting those lapses with a few healthier choices the rest of the day. We can eat anything we want and still remain healthy. We just can’t eat it all in the same day.

Healthy choices aren’t always as appealing, and they do take a little more planning. But as you age, your body will reward you for whatever choices you made along the way. Make sure that reward is something you’d choose.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s All About the Choices We Make

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off well.

As many of you know, I’ve been on a journey to lose weight. And it’s not just a few pounds I need to lose – we’re talking about a third of my body weight. I’ve had some good days and some not so good, but overall the good days are winning. Still, it doesn’t take much to set things back. One weekend on the road, sitting in a car and eating road food, is enough to turn things around.

It seems we always look for the perfect excuse to explain why we’re not doing the things we need to do. It’s too cold outside. It’s too hot. There’s nothing healthy on the menu. The gym is too crowded this time of day. My favorite TV show is on. And my all-time favorite … it was a buffet! What do you expect when you hand me an empty plate in front of all that food???

It’s all about choices, and we make them all the time, even when we’re not really thinking about it. I always got a kick out of people going into McDonalds and ordering a Big Mac, large fries, apple pie, and a diet Coke. Nice try, but at that point, I don’t think diet anything will do much good. You might as well just go for the real thing.

When I stepped on the scale this morning, it rewarded me for a weekend of poor choices. Okay, and a couple of days since the weekend as well. Once you get out of the habit of eating healthy, even for a few days, your body is so happy to have its comfort food back that you tend to just keep on going down the same path. At least I do. And it takes effort to turn it around.

Maybe the wiser choice would have been to just stay on the program in the first place. I have healthy things I could have taken on the road with me. I didn’t have to eat fast food. I could have eaten a salad instead of a burger. Or a plate of fresh fruit with breakfast instead of hash browns. The fact is, I looked at all the tasty things on that menu and threw weight loss right out the window.

Warm weather has finally arrived, and around my house, that means it’s time to fire up the grill. My wife loves grilling out, because I do it. Somehow, she’s never figured out how to light a grill or set the perfect cooking temperature. I’m beginning to think I shouldn’t have been so eager to learn how to use a washing machine, but that’s another story.

But even with the grill, we have choices. I can cook hamburgers and hot dogs, or I can cook skinless chicken and shrimp. I can cook barbecued ribs or lean pork. I can cook steaks or salmon. Okay, that last one is just for me. I’m not even allowed to cook it in the house and nobody else will eat it. Still, it’s a choice I can make. And I have little doubt I’ll make the wrong choice a bunch of times this summer.

And that’s okay. We’re only human. But when we make the wrong choice, we should at least try to minimize the damage with some of our other choices. And no, diet soda doesn’t count. Maybe some fresh fruit as a side dish, and a walk around the neighborhood after dinner. Maybe a healthy lunch on days when I know we’re having ribs for dinner.

And maybe it’s as simple as eating a little less of the bad stuff instead of gorging. People who are trying to lose weight call that a “cheat day.” They’ll even tell you it’s important to do that every now and then. I’m not so sure about that, but even if you do cheat a little, that doesn’t mean you have to go wild. Keep it in check and balance it with some healthier choices. Minimize the damage. That’s all.

We face choices every day. At work, at home, at mealtime, in family interaction, in our personal goals, at the grocery store, driving past the gym, and dozens of other times during the day. It’s the things we choose that make the difference. They shape our being, they shape our body, they shape our relationships, and they shape our future. Mistakes are inevitable. But keeping our eye on the goal is what determines where we end up.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved