Monday, January 28, 2013

Part 1 Whip Yourself Into Self Reliant Shape!

Part 1 of this two part series focuses on the average American's diet and how it can be modified to reverse the weight gain that has affected 1 in 3 Americans with becoming obese.

Being responsible for your own well being is something I think every person should be mindful of.  As a responsible American you owe it to yourself and others to be fit in mind, body and spirit.  This series is going to focus on being physically fit.  

Not taking care of yourself physically not only puts you at a distinct disadvantage in life, but you do a disservice to others by not being ready for what life may throw at you.  For example, if you allow yourself to become sedentary and unfit, then what will happen if disaster strikes and you are forced to carry a loved one out of your burning home?  That is just one scenario that plays out all across America.  

You are responsible for your well being.  And by being responsible for yourself, then that allows you to be able to perform acts of charity to others if the need arises.  Being able to physically help others who are in danger or cannot help themselves is a very good thing.  Part of being an American is helping your fellow man.  How can you do that if you cannot even take care of yourself?

In America, obesity has become a serious issue.  One in three people are considered obese.  There are many contributing factors to this growing (pun intended) problem:
  • Modern jobs do not require as much manual labor i.e. desk jobs are prevalent.
  • More people eat out in restaurants or at home they eat junk food instead of cooking at home using whole foods (vegetables, cuts of pork, chicken, beef, etc.).
  • The portions in restaurants is generally large and have a high calorie content.
There are other factors as well.  However, I believe that this is by and large a huge portion of the problem.  When you get over weight, then it brings on a whole host of other medical and social issues.  What I am going to focus on is how personal fitness is affected and how remedying your nutritional and dietary habits can be altered so that you can reverse the damage you may have caused yourself without intending to.

People truly think that exercise alone will be all that it takes when they embark on a journey to shed extra pounds.  Infomercials and quick fix programs have conditioned that into people.  Unfortunately, it is not that easy.  The hardest part is having to discipline and changing your eating habits so that in the long term you will not fall back into bad eating habits.  Exercise is important, but how you eat is paramount.

You could always calculate your caloric need and count your calories.  However, I know a lot of people simply will not do that.  Here are my rules for basic sound nutritional "commandments":
  • Thou shalt not eat out: Avoid restaurants whenever humanly possible.  You may not like it, but this is critical.  When you eat food from a restaurant such as McDonald's there are very few nutritionally sound options.  And since we are basing these rules on the idea that you won't count calories, then this rule becomes sacrosanct.
  • Thou shall prepare your own meals:  Fix your own meals and pack them in the morning if you are on the go:  This is basically the exact opposite of the first rule, but it must be stated.  Fixing your own meals will allow you full control over what exactly goes into your body.
  • Thou shall only eat what God created:  Use the most natural sources possible:  Ever wonder why "Whole Foods" has the name it has?  Whole food sources are those items such as apples in the produce section and boneless skinless chicken breast in the meat department.  The closer you get to the source of a food, then the healthier it is going to be.
  • Thou shalt not drink your face off:  Stop drinking your calories!:  This one is a big one.  A lot of folks drink way too many calories.  The biggest two are soda and alcohol.  Stick to water and the occasional glass of fruit juice or milk.
  • Thou shall ask for a to go box:  Cut your portions down in half:  How much you eat is a just as important as what you are eating.  You could eat nutritionally sound food all the time.  Eating too much of nutritionally sound food will still put weight on you.
  • Thou shall not pass a water faucet without drinking: Drink water... lots of water:  Do not drink whenever you feel thirsty.  This means you are probably already dehydrated.  You can tell if you are dehydrated if your pee is anything darker than a light yellow.  Also, some people misinterpret dehydration for hunger pains.  Simply put, drinking adequate amounts of water makes you feel fuller.
  • Thou shall eat a variety of food: Eat well rounded meals:  Always try to eat a well rounded meal of protein and carbs.  Try to keep your fat content down, but do not fret if you occasionally eat something that is a little higher in fat content.  Remember, your portion control is more important at this point.
  • Thou shalt not wolf down your food: Eat slowly until you feel full:  I am guilty of breaking this one.  I am a fast eater.  However, it certainly does hold true.  The longer you take to eat, the more time you give your body to signal that you feel full.  Stop eating as soon as you do not feel overly hungry anymore.  You can always eat more later if you get sharp hunger pains.
Hopefully, the rules above will help you get started.  My last bit of advice is to start small and slowly incorporate these habits into your life.  The key to all of this is consistency.  If you stay on track, then over time it will become easier.  If you lapse in any of these, then do not give up.  Do not give up just because you failed once.  Just keep plugging away at it.  Even if you only stuck to it 50% of the time, then that means the other 50% you were successful.  Stay tuned for my next part focusing on the other half of the equation: Exercise.

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