Why do you exercise? Or better yet, why don’t you exercise?
When most people think of exercise, they think of changing their appearance. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this. Usually, exercise does improve your appearance! However, in one of my classes we have been studying how people tend to exercise more consistently and effectively if they have other motivations.
I know it’s sometimes harder to imagine better motivation than skinny jeans, but how about your own health? It’s true, we all love to improve our appearance, and that’s fine, but being active and maintaining a healthy body weight is probably much more important than you think. We all know obesity is bad for your health, but why is it so detrimental?
Did you know that the leading causes of death in the United States are heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, accidents, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, nephritis, influenza, pneumonia, and suicide? Did you know that obesity is directly linked to heart disease, certain cancers (colon, breast, endometrial, and gallbladder), respiratory problems, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression? Clearly, you cannot prevent all injuries, diseases, and accidents (trust me, I still have a road burn scar on my shoulder), but what we can do is use our healthy choices to enhance our well-being.
Sure, we’re all going to die one day, and on some days we’re all going to feel like we’ve been run over by a rabid cat driving a school bus (or is that just my imagination?). Use your healthy heart and lungs to play with your kids, strong arms to open your own peanut butter jars, happiness to cause others to smile, and your increased chance of longevity to get to know your grandkids.
Take care of yourself so you can enjoy your life and spend it with those you love. I encourage you all to set goals for yourself as well as with your physical goals. Don’t just focus on getting a flat stomach. Also shoot for learning how to dance with your partner, feeling more energetic, or becoming more resistant to sickness.
What is holding you back? What do you have to lose? Are you afraid to fail? Are you afraid to try?
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/presidioofmonterey/6878879116/”>Presidio of Monterey: DLIFLC & USAG</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>, edited by Anna Kallschmidt.
I hate to see people unaware of the fattening “health” foods they’re eating. Every Christmas somebody gets engaged, and every Spring Break the bikinis are near the front of the store. With all of these weddings and beaches to go to, everybody suddenly becomes concerned about fitting into their new outfits. Unfortunately, these trends are usually designed for failure. Shocking, right?
- Salads: This is the number one mistake I see out there. You go out to eat and you order a salad for yourself, thinking of how healthy you are being. Wrong! The dressing, croutons, and cheese are killing you! My Dad bought me a Chicken Caesar Salad while I was on Spring Break, since he knows I like to make “healthy decisions.” However, I took a glance at the nutritional information and noticed that if I ate the entire salad, that would be close to 800 calories! Holy crap! I could have 2.5 McDonald’s cheeseburgers for that! I scraped the croutons off of that sucker and dipped my fork in the dressing before I took a bite (I did NOT pour the dressing all over my salad). I ended upon only using 1/6 of the dressing and consuming only 270 calories (I even kept the cheese on there, score!).
- Drinks: Drinks are LOADED with extra calories, not to mention the sugar and other crap that is not helping your body out at all. A medium sweet tea from Sonic or McDonald’s is 180 calories alone, and a 12 ounce coke is 140 calories. Simply drinking a few of these throughout the day can add enough calories to equal an entire meal, without satiating your hunger at all. Notice I am only talking about how fattening these items are; I’m not even talking about how harmful they are to your health!
Even diet soda is doing you no favors, since it has been correlated through research to increase your risk for metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome includes abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, and high fasting glucose and triglycerides. In other words, you’re still likely to gain belly fat and be unhealthy. Another study found that individuals who drink diet soda daily were 67 percent more likely to develop type II diabetes. Research has found no significant connections between diet sodas and weight loss; in fact, there are many more solid correlations between diet soda and obesity.
3. Granola/Protein/Power bars: Biggest. Jokes. Ever. You might as well be eating a candy bar. Many of them are loaded with sugar, unhealthy carbs, and white flour. For example, the Special K Chocolatey Chip Meal Bar has trans fats (even though the label says it doesn’t- don’t get me started on FDA Requirements for labels!), 4 teaspoons of sugar, refined flours, and butylated hydroxytoluene, which research says might be a carcinogen (cancer-causing). Not only are these bars not helpful to your help, they also don’t usually satiate your hunger for long!
4.“Multi-grain:” Okay, so many people read “multi-grain” and think that sounds healthier. I mean, they’re grains, right? However, these could be any kind of grains, and rarely, if ever, are whole grains. Whole grains are sooo important. The Mayo Clinic states that half of your grain intake should be whole grains because they lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. They are also rich in fiber, which helps you feel full longer. Refined grains (“white” bread) are no longer complex carbohydrates, so our bodies digest them as sugar. If you’re making an effort to be healthy (WHICH YOU SHOULD BE!!!), you do not want to make the mistake of thinking you’re helping yourself by purchasing “multi-grains.” These are advertiser’s ways of pick-pocketing you. Stick with whole grains to deprive advertisers of your hard-earned cash. A good rule of thumb is that one serving of whole grains should have at least two grams of fiber.
Now, clearly I have only touched on a very few of these “diet-busters.” There are literally millions out there to confuse you. You’re going to make mistakes, and you’re going to learn as you go. Read your labels, look up ingredients on CREDIBLE online sources, and ask a professional if you need to.
Personally, I like to cheat a little bit. If you have a smartphone, I highly recommend the “Fooducate” app. This new-fangled thing allows you to scan a food’s bar code with your phone, and it tells you if it is harmful and why. I love it!
Now, obviously you shouldn’t deprive yourself all of the time. If you really love sweet tea, soda, granola bars, white bread, ranch dressing, etc., make them a treat and not a habit. Honestly, if I’m going to consume 800 calories when I’m going out to eat, I’d rather have a great burger than a skimpy salad drenched in Ranch.
photo credits: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/dave77459/864932630/”>Dave77459</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/toby_d1/2902863846/”>Pete Zarria</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a