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Exercising A Resolution

exercise

January is not the time to try and lose weight. It is dark, most of the country is cold and television is just starting to get good again. Yet people will flock to gyms and weigh-in centers by the droves. Fitness clubs and gyms are crowded and annoying for the first 3-6 weeks of the year. Diet (processed) food companies have been rubbing their hands together in glee for weeks (January 1st is their Black Friday.) The diet industry is a gazillion dollar industry, and if it worked it wouldn’t exist. All that said, if you insist upon changing your physical ways in January, it’s nice to have an encouraging coach:

Input

Most people fall into one of two categories of food relationships: “all things in moderation” and “restrictive” eaters. The former orientation allows for tweaks or portion control when looking to adjust the bathroom scale (which is meant only euphemistically as a bathroom scale is nothing more than an evil monkey and/or a terrific place to stub your toe each and every morning.)

The “restrictive” eater habitually refers to food (or their own eating habits) as “good” or “bad.” Their relationship with food is based on what it represents emotionally rather than what it does for them physically. Eaters in this camp have a more challenging time changing food behavior. Booking a few visits with a registered dietician could be a life altering experience for these eaters. Developing a layer of consciousness about nutrition and one’s specific physical needs could permanently alter food relationships. Eating will always have an emotional component, but like all behaviors there should be intellectual underpinnings.

Output

If there is any doubt that physical movement is as necessary as oxygen, visit a retirement community. The quality of life is vastly different for those who have moved throughout their lives and those who spent more than a few hours on the couch. A lifetime habit of motion is a wise investment. The key to any lifetime habit is to discover what one enjoys. For those who are blessed with a true passion for athleticism, the options are endless. For the rest of us we must overcome boredom, awkwardness, or (sigh) a childhood trauma of being picked last.

The first step toward the “movement as habit” goal is to ignore the rules. It isn’t that “weight-bearing” is not a fabulous tool to promote bone density; it is simply that too many rules can discourage one from any attempts at movement whatsoever. Simply put aside all notions of “duration,” “intensity,” and “method” for the moment. The second step is finding something to do that’s actually enjoyable.

You probably know if you are energized by the presence of others or not. You also have a sense of whether you’re a free-range person or one who thrives in regiment. For the socially motivated, fitness classes may be just the ticket. For the truly adventurous, there are teams to join. Volleyball, baseball, and bowling offer varying degrees of activity and socializing. The social factor may also be addressed by organizing one or two friends once or twice a week. Walking and exercise dvds are a wonderful background for conversation. For those most inspired when alone, anything is possible. You are beholden to nobody’s schedule or preferences. Put on the headphones and dance like there’s no one watching, buy a jump rope, go for a walk/run, or take up bicycling. The most important factor in any activity is that the body is moving and the mind is enjoying it. This will ensure that the behavior does indeed become a habit.

An important note regarding one’s diet and movement regime; know your true body size and do not distort it. Trying to outsmart one’s nature is simply an oxymoronic endeavor. An inflated body is as unhealthy and as frightening as an emaciated body. One’s head should not tower over one’s frame. No doubt several examples of such oddities come to mind; it would simply be too cruel to mention them here.

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Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Well-Being

 

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Lose Pounds and Inches Fast!

“Eat our processed food and lose weight!”  “Join this gym and lose weight!”  “Take this pill, shake, herb, tea, suppository, and lose weight!”

And they’re off!  New Year’s is the weight loss industry’s black Friday.  Many millions are reaped throughout the year, but it is January that does wonders for the industry’s bottom line.  As our nation has grown in size so has an industry filled with an abundance of promises and zero standards.  How has this happened?

Whether one considers excessive weight to be a health, behavior or public issue is somewhat secondary to the point that the market feels free to exploit the situation.

If you feel that being overweight is a health issue, what do you make of reality television shows featuring obese contestants being humiliated as a means to bolstering their health?  Do we watch smokers and drinkers being humiliated on reality shows?  Do we honestly think that this programming is not solely about the viewer’s entertainment?  How did other people’s heartbreaking struggle with a health issue become fodder for our entertainment?

If you feel that being overweight is the result of an utter lack of self-control, what do you make of products that reinforce that disconnect between outcome and behavior?  The “behavior” camp asserts that maintaining a healthy weight is the result of not consuming more than one is using.  A sensible diet and a moderate amount of exercise is the permanent method with which to control weight.  If the federal government believes this (and they seem to) why then are companies allowed to sell snake oil?  Why doesn’t every advertisement for Nutri-Jenny-Fast have a big black box across it stating “Eating our fake food is not sustainable & your behavior will not be changed by our program.  You may in fact lose weight while you are our customer, but most people gain it back immediately after leaving our program.”   Too big brother?  Remember, we now have warnings on aerosol bottles to dissuade people from huffing.

If you feel that the public health of our nation is at risk, then we really have to talk.  Whether we should start with the corn subsidies or food labeling, or school lunches makes for good dinner party conversation.  But so do dinner parties for that matter.  All of our habits, from the decline of dinner tables to carbo-loaded toddlers while they burn zero calories riding in a stroller, to wheels on sneakers (children don’t even walk anymore, they roll,) it’s all up for scrutiny.  What about processed foods designed specifically for children?  The baby food industry started the trend with “toddler” jarred foods.  Apparently toddlers find real yogurt and bananas to be daunting.  As they get older, the food industry has graciously provided, fake cheese, yogurt with candy, processed breaded chicken nuggets, lunchables and colored flavored drinks.  For those in the public health camp; why is this even tolerated?  We regulate pill bottle caps, cribs, car seats, window blind cords, but not the food sold for our children?  We are cultivating a lifelong appetite for fake food.

It is a terrible burden to feel as if your size is standing in your way.  Feeling as if your own body is the enemy is an exhausting way to go through life.  For anyone pulling on their new sneakers and heading out into the unknown this January, I say Brava!  It is physics; the first steps are the hardest.  Keep at it, and in about six weeks it will be the new normal.  Eat real food, celebrate meals, enjoy life and save your money.  There are no shortcuts and the only magic is discovering your own strength.

 

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2012 in Cultural Critique, Media/Marketing

 

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