Seven Easy Ways to Cross off at Least One New Year’s Resolution
By Kent Lewis
In a culture obsessed with consumption and convenience, it’s increasingly difficult to stay healthy. Fueled by a staple of fast food, reality TV and video games, Americans are getting fatter and dumber every day. We work more than any other country in the world and find fewer and fewer reasons to get out of our seat at work or out of our cars on the way to or from home. As other countries mimic our culture and their collective health follows suit, we’re left to ponder a global crisis that would make Darwin cringe. America, it’s time to get mobile, and below are seven easy ways to get trim, fit and healthy.
1. Tap, Twitch and Twirl
Forget the miracle diets and exercise machines hocked on weekend infomercials, all you need is a dose of caffeine (or meth). In a recent study, researchers determined that obese people are sedentary an average of 160 minutes more per day than a person of average weight. Those tested of average weight (who also preferred not to exercise) were found to be more fidgety, tapping toes and busying themselves around the house or office during the day. That small amount of extra activity added up to an additional 350 calories consumed per day, or the equivalent of 10 to 15 pounds of fat a year.
2. Take the Extra Step
For those of you that didn’t see “Supersize Me” or don’t live in an urban environment, consider walking as much as possible. The average New Yorker walks five or six miles a day, whereas the average suburban professional may walk only a few hundred yards. Buy a pedometer, or estimate the number of steps you take on an average day and try to add steps to your daily routine. Use “scenic” or circuitous routes in the office. Take quick power walks during lunchtime or breaks at work and use the stairs instead of the elevator.
3. Eat and Run
The best time of day to trim the fat with exercise is in the morning before breakfast when you maximize fat calorie consumption, as well as after meals, especially dinner. A 20-minute walk after dinner increases digestive efficiency and burns calories. Everyone’s body is different, so figure out what’s best for you.
4. Calorie Offsetting
While Weight Watchers and Atkins diets work for many people, common sense is perhaps the most effective tool of all. If you’re trying to trim just a bit off the midsection, or simply maintain your desired weight, use a simple regimen of offsetting “special treats” high in sugar or fat with a reasonably equivalent intensity or duration of exercise. A bowl of ice cream after dinner could, for example, be compensated for by a 40-minute brisk walk or 20-minute run. I won’t tell you what a box of Ding Dongs will set you back.
Turn unavoidable, boring or tedious daily chores into exercise. Make calls or schedule team meetings while on walks or read work-related documents while on an exercise machine at the gym. Making calls while driving doesn’t count unless you’re using a Thigh Master at the same time. Take your laptop or wireless device on walks to a local hotspot for a quick getaway.
6. Make it Fun
Exercise shouldn’t be feared or loathed. Pick an activity that you enjoy to help burn unwanted calories. If you don’t like running, but want to sweat off the pounds, try a sport like soccer, basketball or even ultimate Frisbee that all but distracts you from the fact you’re exercising. If bicycling conjures a fear of massive head injuries, try a stationary bike or elliptical machine at the gym. Seemingly innocuous activities like jump rope, boxing and martial arts can burn calories while building power, stamina and self-confidence. Pushups or sit-ups during commercial breaks of your favorite TV show certainly wouldn’t hurt either.
7. Shop ’Til You Drop
Once you’ve increased your daily activity, maximize the benefits of exercise by eating right. We all know fast food and processed food has little or no nutritional value, but we eat it because it’s cheap, easy and tastes good. Don’t fall into that trap, go the extra mile when eating out to find healthy alternatives in the form of local restaurants specializing in cuisine that uses fresh ingredients.
When stuck at a fast food joint, choose items on the menu that are less damaging to your waist and kidneys (hint: stay away from fries and sugar-loaded soda pop). Above all, plan out your meals for the entire week at one time so you can shop efficiently and decrease the probability you’ll eat out because you “don’t have anything at home.” Don’t forget to leave your car at home when you go the store; bring a backpack and you’ll probably save a nickel at the register.Get Moving
If you feel you’ve heard this all before, it’s because you have. This is all common sense: diet and exercise is the key to a healthy, long life. At the same time you’re complaining that I’ve avoided writing something new, interesting and insightful for this month’s Anvil, ask yourself if you’re happy with your health and body image. Are you the healthiest you’ve ever been? Congratulations! If not, then please join the minority of healthy Americans by doing something about it. What are you waiting for? Get moving.