BY DINAH MYERS
We hear a lot about how important exercise is to our overall health. There are even mobile apps to help us track our activities and our food intake to make us constantly aware of how many calories we have burned and how much more we need to burn. However, no tech tools can substitute for just moving our bodies. There is a lot of talk in the media about “sitting being the new smoking.” There are reports that over two-thirds of Americans are overweight. This gets to be overwhelming to those of us striving to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. After eating a vegan diet for almost six years, my total cholesterol was almost 300. Talk about overwhelmed! And that was while walking 10,000 or so steps per day, plus yoga three days a week!
After going back to Diet Center, losing 30 pounds of fat dropped my cholesterol 80 points. The key to the cholesterol drop was losing the fat pounds and not lean pounds. And guess what? All it took was a commitment to better health. Yes, I had to stop overeating starches and using the excuse of getting my protein in through vegetable/grain servings. I also made a choice to eat animal protein again. Making the commitment is probably the hardest part; just walking in the Diet Center was a major decision because I knew that my eating habits would have to change. And who loves change? But I knew I had to make the change to achieve better health.
There are always opportunities to eat healthy! I frequently hear it said, “I can’t lose weight because we eat out so much.” You can eat healthy, even at fast food restaurants. Most every fast food place offers salads, grilled meat choices, and even fruit sides. Instead of saying, “I don’t want to make bad choices,” I say, “I am looking forward to making healthy choices.” If we feel as though we are being deprived, it becomes very hard to stay on any reducing diet. When a person does make a less than healthy choice, the most important thing to be done is to let the past be the past and not let one day of eating unhealthy become a week, then a month of unhealthy choices because of the feeling of “what’s the use in trying?”
Many people do very well at making healthy choices until the late afternoon when energy levels tend to decline. Eating protein throughout the day has been a great help for me. I would normally eat very little throughout the day and then have a large dinner because my energy was gone and I just needed fuel to finish up the day. Consequently, I ate way too much, way too late in the day. Now I start my day with protein at breakfast, along with fruit, starch, and dairy. No more energy crises late in the day.
Growing up in the South, potatoes were served in our house EVERY day, and I LOVE potatoes! Some weight loss programs advise not eating potatoes (or any starch for that matter). Potatoes are good choices for a healthy diet. Now, that is not permission to eat fries. Baked, broiled, boiled, roasted are all great potato choices! Even sweet potatoes are great choices. Before you order that baked potato with all the trimmings though, choose the potato with low-fat margarine, olive oil, or even low fat salad dressing to keep the potato “healthy.” Add some chopped broccoli, tomatoes, and cucumbers for an even better choice.
During the summer month, my favorite grocery store happens to be the local farmer’s markets. I keep big bowls of cubed melon and berries in my refrigerator so that I never have to just grab “whatever is handy and easy” for snacks. A cup and a half of fresh mixed fruit is a serving, and it fills you up so that you are no longer foraging for snacks because the cookie you quickly grabbed really didn’t fill you up. If I could give people one health-changing tip, it would be “preparation prevents desperation.” Stay stocked up on healthy choices. Visit the farmer’s markets, take the time to enjoy the fruits of our beautiful land.