Healthy Choices for Healthy Living

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

According to the weatherman, yesterday may have been winter’s last punch in the gut for some of us here in the US Midwest. I sure hope so. We’re not completely out of the woods yet, but the forecasts show gradually rising temperatures into more of what’s considered “normal for this time of year.” Whatever that is. It’s the last time I’ll ever believe that groundhog. Early spring? Right.

Two weeks ago, the stores started putting bathing suits on display. I also put my motorcycle up for sale (again). So far, there hasn’t been a rush to buy either of them. We look at them longingly and think, “Well, if it ever warms up a little, I may have to give that some thought.” Last year, by the time the weather got really nice, the riding season was half-gone. Hopefully we won’t do that again.

But there’s something about bathing suits and spring clothing that makes us look at our winter body and think, “Let’s lose a little of this first.” Sure, we’d love to be among the first to hit the beach, but it would be nice to sunbathe without well-intended animal lovers dumping buckets of water on you. Just me?

First, let’s establish one fact – nobody (but you) cares how you look in a bathing suit. Anyone who does is probably not admiring your bathing suit anyway. Find something that fits correctly and appeals to your sense of style, and rock it. You’re there for your enjoyment, not somebody else’s.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with trying to shed a few pounds and tone up a little if that’s what you want. But a great beach body doesn’t mean much if you’re too sick to take it out for a little sun. It’s easy to get so hung up on losing weight that we make some really poor decisions on how to do it. Here’s a clue – exclusion diets are generally not good for your overall health. Period.

I’ve got a cousin who knows more about healthy eating than most doctors, and right now she’s saying, “Just eat what nature provided!” And you know, there’s something to be said for that. I don’t think anybody can argue that we all need to consume less junk and more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

But that means eating the right balance of foods so we get all the right nutrients. If we leave out entire food groups because somebody told us we’ll burn more fat without them, it’s like running a car without some of the vital fluids. Sooner or later, you’ll hear a loud clunk and find yourself sitting on the side of the road.

Most nutritionists point to the food color wheel as a starting point for ensuring we’re getting everything our body needs. If your plate is filled with color – red, orange, green, purple, and white – you’re off to a good start. And sorry folks, jelly beans don’t count. I don’t make the rules.

When we eat whole foods, we get all the nutrients nature intended. And we process the essential vitamins a lot better because we’re getting everything in balance. Loading up on a single vitamin is generally not beneficial, and it may even cause problems. This is why so many doctors tell patients “You don’t need vitamins – just eat right.”

But most of us don’t eat right. And even if we try, the foods we’re getting don’t have nearly the same amount of nutrients they had decades ago. We can thank modern technology and irresponsible farming practices for that. So, what’s a person to do?

Take a little time to educate yourself. Read something that isn’t an obvious promotion for a certain diet or “miracle food.” Talk to your doctor. Ask to see a nutritionist. Pick up a book in the library. Read labels. Find out what all that information on those labels means. The better you’re able to understand the choices, the better you’re able to make the right choices.

And if you just can’t make those healthy choices, consider a good plant-based multivitamin to help fill in some of the gaps. You’ll pay a little more, but generally speaking, anything that comes from nature is better than a chemically made substitute.

Finally, don’t sacrifice your health in a quest for the perfect body. Set some reasonable goals and discuss them with your doctor. Find something you can live with, something that doesn’t require you to eliminate anything (except maybe donuts) and pay attention to any sign of ill effects.

For most of us, it took years of education and experience to get good at our jobs. If we would invest even a small percentage of that time in learning about nutrition, think of how much healthier we could be. The perfect beach body may never come. But isn’t it more about just getting to the beach? Take care of your health first. The rest will take care of itself.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Checked Your Belt Lately?

I had to buy a new belt yesterday. Normally, that wouldn’t be worthy of mention, but in this case, it wasn’t to make a fashion statement or even because the old one was just worn out. It broke. As I was putting it on, tugging against one side to embed the waistband of my pants deep into my belly, the largest metal piece of the buckle broke. Guess it had enough.

It was only a matter of time. When you take something that’s only meant to hold your pants up and put enough force on it to lift a railroad car, sooner or later it’ll snap. And that’s about what it takes to keep these pants up. I think maybe the gods are trying to tell me something.

You see, I carry all of my weight in my belly. According to health experts, that’s not a good thing. And because of that, I have two choices – I can wear my pants lower than a teenage boy on date night or wear my belt so tight it cuts off my spleen. Because, once my pants slip down past the middle of my belly, the laws of gravity take over. It’s really embarrassing in church.

So, I combined my trip to Belts R Us and stopped by the gym on the way home. Between lower back issues and that pesky brain surgery, it’s been a few months. And it shows. But I was a good boy and waited till the doc gave me the okay. He said to start easy, which isn’t a problem for me. Truly, I think he’s afraid of all that pressure from my midsection pushing against my brain.

Weight loss is never an easy thing, especially when you get to this age and you’ve been carrying it around for thirty years. I read an article a few years ago that said, once your body builds fat cells, they never go away. You can empty them out, but like politicians and the IRS, they’re always holding their hand out for more.

It doesn’t help that we’ve seen these reality shows where people lose up to 100 pounds in a few months. And it sets a very unrealistic expectation that, if you do things right, rapid weight loss is the natural result. Also, for the duration of the contest, these people spend their lives under the constant supervision of doctors and nutritionists, exercising several hours a day.

Even then, according to a study reported in the New York times, within a couple of years the overwhelming majority of contestants gained back most, if not all, the weight they had lost. In fact, some weighed even more. Care to guess why the show is off the air? Maybe it’s because they didn’t want to face a ten-year reunion show.

I feel for anybody who’s trying to lose weight. It’s hard, and we live in a world that is increasingly detrimental to those of us with the fat gene. First of all, finding a healthy meal, even at home, is getting harder by the day. Go out, and all bets are off. More often than not, one plate of restaurant food contains a whole day’s worth of fat and calories, with little or no nutritional value.

And, to reward us for our weakness, we have clothing stores and the airline industry. Even if you can find a pair of pants big enough, there’s no way you can squeeze them into the coach seat on an airliner. And they won’t upgrade you to first class just because you’re fat. The best they’ll do is hand you a seat belt extension in full view of all the other passengers to humiliate you even more.

Okay, we’ve had some fun here, but the reality is, obesity is a huge (no pun intended) problem in this country. Beyond broken belts and embarrassing moments, it’s slowly becoming a leading cause of premature death. And we can’t count on corporate America to make it any better. After all, the fatter we are, the more belts they can sell.

We’ve talked before about diets and weight loss, and there are no easy answers. But I believe if you talk to your doctor, get some exercise, and follow a sensible diet that consists of healthy alternatives, it’s not that hard. It’s all about taking in fewer calories, getting optimal value from those calories, and increasing our metabolism through both nutrition and activity.

Many of us will struggle with weight the rest of our lives. But, like any struggle, it’s possible to maintain the upper hand. We just have to be sensible, set realistic goals, and find something we can live with for the long haul. Slow and steady wins the race. Seems I’ve heard that somewhere before.

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

Lose the Weight – Keep Your Health

Back when I began this thing, I decided that every now and then, I’d take a day to focus on health. Okay, judging by the size of my belly, maybe I need to do that more often. But in any discussion about dreams, success, and happiness, it’s important that we pay attention to our health.

It seems every day, somebody has come up with a new diet that promises to magically melt away the pounds. Well, there’s a problem with that. Whatever magically melts away can magically reappear, and it usually does. Don’t believe me? Just kiss somebody with an intestinal virus. You’ll lose up to ten pounds overnight. But it’ll all be back by Tuesday.

And so it goes with most of these fad diets, especially the ones that shut out one entire food group and focus on another. I once worked with a guy who lost a fair amount of weight by eating cereal three times a day. Granted, I would love to have his willpower. But I have to wonder how long that lasted, and what happened when he switched back to real food.

You see, the problem isn’t just what we’re eating. Well, it is, but hear me out. You can pour special oil additives into a dying car engine and it’ll stop making noise. But until you fix the underlying problem, it’ll just keep getting worse until one day it quits altogether.

We’re not all that different. If the underlying problem is something that causes us to overeat, or to binge on things our body doesn’t need, we’re destined for recurring weight and health problems. There’s no getting around it. The only way to fix the symptom is to fix the underlying problem.

Well, the diet promoters have that one covered as well. “You’ll get used to it, and when you do, you’ll never miss all that other stuff you were eating. In fact, it’ll make you feel nauseated if you do eat it. Stick with this and you’ll live happily ever after!”

Maybe, but that doesn’t automatically make it healthy. You can get used to anything, for a while. But sooner or later, you’ll decide you can start adding some things back in. And when you do, what happens? All those empty fat cells that your body has been storing since the diet began will grab up everything they can hold. Because fat cells, once they’re created, never go away.

Another thing to consider is the effect of the diet on your health. Our bodies were designed to consume and process a wide variety of foods, and they function best when those foods are present in ideal combinations. Cut out an entire set of nutrients, or focus too heavily on another, and your body can’t get the optimal benefit from the rest.

For instance, we all know that Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium. You can eat all the calcium-rich foods you want, but if you cut out your body’s primary sources of Vitamin D, you won’t be able to properly absorb the calcium.

On the other hand, phosphorus – the kind that’s found in wheat bran – inhibits the absorption of calcium. Now, everybody knows wheat bran is good for you. In fact, some diets are almost exclusively based on fiber. But we all know what happens when your body doesn’t get enough calcium. So, what’s a person to do?

Eat sensibly. It’s really that simple. Figure out what’s making you eat too much and correct the problem. When you feel tempted to snack (or gorge), get up and do something. Take a walk. Read a book. Get outside and play with the kids. More often than not, overeating is simply the result of boredom.

And when you do eat, make sure you’re getting some nutritional benefit from the food you consume. It goes without saying that most, if not all, fast foods are nutritionally deficient. They’re also loaded with sodium and fat. And you know what? The same is true of most restaurant foods. The only difference is they cost a lot more.

We live in a fast-paced world where it’s increasingly difficult to eat healthy. But neglecting your body’s overall nutritional needs for the sake of weight loss isn’t the answer. Before you launch into any diet, ask your doctor if it’s right for you. Read some independent studies. And if you do decide to give up certain foods, consider supplements to replace the nutrients your body still needs.

Bottom line – you can cheat your body for a little while, and you may even see some amazing visible benefits along the way. But it’s what you can’t see that can really mess up your day. Weight gain is a symptom, not a problem. So, fix the problem. Do that, and you can continue to eat the variety of foods your body needs without any of the negative effects.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved