Let’s face it… we all talk about “getting in shape,” or “eating better,” or “losing a little weight,” or “getting a little more exercise,” or “drinking more water,” or “going for a walk,” or blah, blah, blah.
So, why is it that Americans are fatter than ever? Why are we less healthy than previous generations? Why is our life expectancy decreasing? Why is prescription medication use at an all-time high? If those prescriptions work so well, why do the rates of heart disease and diabetes continue to rise? We live with these facts… despite a multi-billion dollar fitness and self-help industry, and by far the highest health care costs in the world. WHY?!
Because, like politicians, everyone has an excuse.
I’m too busy. That doesn’t taste good. It hurts when I exercise. I’ll start next week. I was under a lot of stress. Those Pringles just looked too good. We had company. It was a holiday. No one else will do it with me. I’ve tried before. I don’t know where to start. On and on and on, you can keep talking yourself out of it and making excuses, but don’t kid yourself. You’re not fooling anyone… least of all yourself. So, enough is enough. The excuses stop now. Here’s how we’re going to do it:
- Use your freakin’ head. The first step towards true improvement is to start thinking honestly. You’ll never make anything better by lying to yourself. Be honest with yourself when you choose Froot Loops instead of eggs. Don’t make excuses when you choose chips instead of an apple. These are YOUR choices. With very few exceptions, if you are unhealthy, it is a direct result of the choices you have made and continue to make. Don’t flit through your day ignoring the consequences of your choices. You are not a politician. You’re not going to be able to do whatever you want, blame it on someone else, and let someone else pay for it. It’s on you. You are the one with high blood pressure. You are the one who ends up with diabetic neuropathy. Think.
- It’s not rocket science. Too often, I hear people who put off making life changing decisions merely because they’re so damned confused about their options. Low fat or good fats? Gluten-free or Mediterranean? Paleo or HCG? Salt-free or blazing spice? Weight Watchers or Slim-4-Life? At the end of the day, all of that is just hub-bub. If it helps you to follow one of those “diets,” then pick ONE and have at it. However, for the most part all you need to do is follow Step #1. Use your head. You know what’s healthy and what’s not. Don’t worry about it so much and just start making smarter choices. You know when you’re eating too much… put the fork down! You know when you shouldn’t eat something… don’t do it. You know when you’re being lazy… get off your butt.
- Two simple food rules. First, if it’s white, there is almost no nutritional value to it. And don’t let them fool you with food coloring. Read the ingredients and if you see “bleached flour,” it’s a white food that they’ve doctored up. For a more clear discussion of what to look for on labels, click here. Second, the faster a food will rot usually means more nutritional value. For example, fresh tomatoes that will last a week are much healthier than canned tomatoes that will last for three years. The hierarchy is thus: Fresh > Frozen > Canned > Boxed.
- A coffee cup will help you shed pounds. A standard coffee cup is 8 ounces. Now that we’ve decided to eat better foods, drink one coffee cup of water about a half hour before each meal. Not only will you increase your water intake for the day, but you’ll diminish your appetite making it easier to eat proper amounts. Stop over-eating! And, by the way… Never, never, never “Supersize” your meal at the drive-thru. It’s ridiculous and unnecessary.
- Place a Swiss ball in your front room. Sit on it while watching TV. You’ll soon find yourself doing shallow bounces, which means you’re contracting and relaxing muscles. This is good for the core, good for balance, and is a simple calorie burner that keeps the hypothalamus burning. As you get comfortable, start throwing in some clockwise rotations followed by counter-clockwise rotations. During commercials, roll down and do some crunches. When you show comes back on, roll back up and enjoy. Before you know it, you’ve done 30-60 minutes of exercise.
How’s that for an easy start? No more excuses! When in doubt, refer to Rule #1… Use Your Freakin’ Head.
- Dr. Gray