Health and Fitness Resolutions: Quick Fix or Permanent Solution?

So often…

No.

Too often

you and I approach the start of a commitment to “get more fit” or “get in shape” with the wrong mindset.

We look for the magic potion, the secret formula, the quick fix.

We speak in platitudes. We talk about toning flabby arms and running an eight-minute mile.

We hear that – after all these years – the real reason nobody is losing weight… the real reason we have an obesity epidemic… is because we didn’t have the right weight-loss pill. But now, this awesome new pill, not available to the public until 2012, has come to rescue all of us! And now that it’s available with one simple phone call, all you have to do is pop the pill, wait for it to expand in your stomach, eat next to nothing, and you’ll feel full and satisfied. Weight and fat will fall off your body when this expanding pill fills your tummy, you’ll lose all the weight you want, and life will be blissful.

Who would have ever thought weight loss was this easy?

I’m not naming names, but there are at least four such “remedies” available today, if you want to waste your money.

Hall1898adTooFat - public domain

Have you ever considered how preposterous weight-control and weight-loss advertising claims are? Yet how many times have you wanted to try one, hoping against hope that this might be the one that actually works?

Why?

Because we crave the quick fix.

You and I grew up in the television age. The age of 30-minute sitcoms. Dramas and mysteries that were resolved in 60 minutes. Results need to be immediate. We became a microwave society. We have no time to be patient. Our food needs to be done sooner rather than later.

Advertisers took advantage. The snake oil salesmen of yesterday became the weight-loss pill pushers of today. “Lose 20 pounds in a week! If your weight loss results are too dramatic, cut back to one pill per day.”

Right.

How many people do you think are going to do that? Faster is better! People hear that they can accelerate their weight loss results and they’ll take more pills, not fewer!

What a shrewd way to sell more “snake oil?”

As we careen toward a new year, will you feel compelled to make yet another health and fitness resolution? Will you opt for permanent, healthy change or yet another quick fix?

Which one do you think will make a difference in your life?

It IS Your Fault!

I have HAD it! ENOUGH with the commercials telling me that it’s not my fault.

IT IS MY FAULT.

And…

IT IS YOUR FAULT.

Does anyone take responsibility for anything any more?

This is crazy!

You can’t lose weight but it’s not your fault.

You can’t find a job and it’s not your fault.

You’re addicted to junk food and it’s not your fault. It’s the potato chip’s fault. Oh. And advertisers. And the evil manufacturers. Probably even the president of the company!

You can’t perform in the bedroom and it’s not your fault.

Your child’s behavior is not your fault.

Your divorce is not your fault.

Your crappy password is not your fault.

Neither is your lousy golf swing.

Even being buried in credit card debt is not your fault.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to blame you for everything that happens to you. Don’t confuse me with the guy who blames the woman who is raped or abused. Don’t think I deny medical evidence of uncontrollable weight issues or physical incapacity. Don’t discount what I have to say because you know people who had ‘this condition’ or ‘that misfortune’…

That’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about being willing to take a little personal responsibility.

Sometimes, when you can’t lose weight, it’s because you don’t really want to lose weight.

Sometimes, when you can’t stop overeating, it’s because you don’t want to stop eating.

Sometimes, when you’re unhappy with the way your body looks, it’s because you’re really not motivated to do anything about it.

Sometimes in life – and I dare say, quite often – it IS your fault!

It’s not because you can’t. It’s because you won’t.

We live at a time when culture and society want to explain away any and every negative experience as just another injustice done to us. We can’t help our reactions. We can justify our actions by what it happening around us or to us.

And none of it is our fault.

Bullshit. (pardon me)

I’m sick of it.

If you haven’t noticed, we live in a world of propaganda. You have to search for real news. You need to dig deep to evaluate whether what you’re hearing is fact, or someone’s interpretation of what happened, or has been deliberately skewed to make you think a certain way.

Children cannot be trusted with the facts any more. They have to be taught how to think, what to think. Powers of reason are trampled in favor of popular thought.

And when I say children, I’m not limiting the definition to preschoolers and early grade school. Middle school, junior high, high school curricula are peppered with propaganda.

Even colleges and universities trample honest reason and debate.

What’s wrong with us?

Being taught what to think. Personal responsibility takes a back seat to being taken care of… because we can’t take care of ourselves?

Is it possible that we can’t lose weight because we eat too much?

Is it possible I eat too much junk food because I enjoy it?

Is it possible I could learn how the body works and make changes to my lifestyle that can help me get and stay healthier than I’ve ever been in my life?

Can you?

I challenge you to try.

In my early forties, I changed the way I ate. I studied, evaluated, and experimented with every popular diet and “eating plan.” I learned that what and how I ate made a difference. I learned that I could eat what I wanted to eat, within reason, but I also discovered that choosing to eliminate certain types of food from my diet made a significant difference in how I felt.

I changed the way I approached fitness. No more run around the racquetball court for an hour and think I’m in great physical condition. I learned that my concept of cardiovascular exercise as a fitness tool was all wrong. I learned why strength training was not just for meat heads and egomaniacs, but an essential part of long-term health.

I eliminated post-lunch drowsiness, my chronically cold hands and feet, and many minor physical ailments. I didn’t get sick as often. I ate more and felt better than ever. I actually even liked the way parts of my body looked that used to disgust me.

I learned that certain people weren’t born with a good metabolism and that I could even change mine.

And I can change yours, too.

Don’t want to change?

Then maybe it IS your fault.

I’m not always this cold. In fact, ask my clients. I never come across like this working one-on-one with them. But I heard “it’s not your fault” one too many times today.

And I snapped.

Low Calories

As I sit here licking my lips from the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I just devoured (hey, even fitness studs like me — NOT!!! — have breakdowns every now and then), I’m going to pick on an e-mail I received today from my favorite coffeehouse.  They shall remain nameless simply because I’m going to pick on them.

Just a little.  And playfully.  Citing their e-mail only as an example.

First of all, the PB and J… yummy.

I was starving.

Well, probably not literally.  But my little (?) tummy was growling and I felt the need to torture the cats by eating something they don’t like.  I spied the loaf of Natural Ovens Bakery Hunger Filler bread (100% whole grain, 4 g of fiber, 2 g of sugar, 4 g of protein per slice), and the worst thing you can be is anything edible when I’m hungry.  Two slices toasted, slathered with natural peanut butter and Smucker’s grape jam (yes, it’s true… high fructose corn syrup; even I’m not perfect), and the leftover cup of green tea, reheated for, like, the fourth time.

A tasty little snack that satisfied the hunger pangs.

So here’s the takeaways:

  1. Strength training means never having to say you’re full.  Well, that’s not exactly true, but it sure makes it seem that way.  I never feel full (except at Thanksgiving and on Christmas Day).  The point is, burn a lot of calories, build some muscle, and it requires more calories to fill you up.
  2. Nobody’s perfect.  If you eat an occasional non-supportive meal, the world will not end.  The sun will rise in the morning (even if obscured by clouds).  You will have another opportunity to get it right tomorrow.  And the sandwich wasn’t that “non-supportive.”  Well, except for the high fructose corn syrup.  That’s why it’s best not to even have it in the house; it got in between me and my empty stomach.
  3. If you’re hungry and you know you’re hungry, eat!  I’m not an expert on emotional eating, but I know I’ve done it and will probably do it again.  But after you get in the habit of eating supportive meals on most days of the week and spacing your calories throughout the day, you get in touch with your body’s needs and you know when your body is craving calories and you’re not using food as an “outlet.”

Now back to the e-mail…

This particular coffee establishment was advertising various breakfast and beverage items.  The title of their e-mail:

“Resolving to be healthier? (We) can help.”

How can they help?  Their advertised items are low in calories.

Is that a good thing?

We’re not going to get into your body’s metabolic needs in this post.  Suffice it to say, we have to consume enough calories — quality calories — so our body can function appropriately, so we don’t slow our metabolism.

Our body cannot differentiate between “cutting calories to lose weight” and starving.  If we don’t adequately fuel our body, our body will respond accordingly.

The e-mail got me thinking about the menu boards at restaurants like Panera Bread and McDonald’s, etc. that now indicate the number of calories contained in each food item.

That’s a nice start.

But it’s incomplete information.

For instance, in the coffeehouse e-mail, is the Small Lite Latte (under 200 calories) healthier than the under 300 calories Classic Oatmeal?

Seems obvious, right?

Maybe not to the calorie counter desperately trying to lose ten pounds.

How much fat?  Is it saturated?  How much sugar?  Any protein?

At every meal, try to eat a lean protein, a whole grain starchy carbohydrate, and a fibrous carbohydrate.  And try to limit empty calories from beverages (we’re not talking about meal-replacement smoothies here).

So, kudos to the coffeehouse.  They’re trying to be responsible citizens while trying to sell product at the same time.  Unfortunately, in their attempt to help, they’re adding to the confusion.

The focus should not be so much on the calories as on the nutrients: the fat, carbohydrates, and protein.  And the quality of those nutrients.

All that being said, if you’re hungry and you know it’s really hunger…

EAT.