WHAT I'VE LEARNED IN 57 YEARS AS A MAN, part 2:
I was motivated to write this blog this morning after reading about the "5 foods you should never eat" which include sugar substitutes, margarine, soy milk, orange juice, and whole wheat bread. It was a weird premise from a "certified nutritionist," but it made me get up, go to the gym, and eat a non-processed breakfast (I think).
Having been a morbidly obese person most of my life, I reflected on every diet that I've ever been on -- including successful and unsuccessful ones -- and realized some truths that I needed to share. (And no, I'm not a nutritionist, health nut, jock, or exercise physiologist. I'm just a man who has lived through the huge ups and downs of dieting.)
Most diets I've been on restrict intake and make you feel deprived. Don't "go on a diet."
Take care of your body. Every doctor recommends that you get exercise . . . but how much? How many gym memberships have I had in the last 30 years? How many exercise machines have I owned? How many personal trainers have I paid? Too many.
Once, when my daughter was born (about 28 years ago), I was about 350 pounds and got motivated by a late-night infomercial touting "The Neuropsychology of Weight Control." This was the beginning of one of the most successful plans I ever followed. It's recommendation is to walk 1 hour each day at a brisk pace -- of course building up to this with whatever you can do now -- and consume only 20% (or less) of all calories from fat. This combination worked well for me, and I become "member of the month" at the Downtown YMCA after losing 86 pounds. They even put my picture on the wall! I ultimately went down to 225, but no lower. I also increased my cardio workout to 2-3 hours each and every day, and began competing in long-distance bike races and biathlons. (No, I never won . . . I was still rather large.)
Then, I stopped working out so much. I ate more fat. I ballooned up to 400 pounds.
In January 2003, I had gastric bypass surgery and lost 225 pounds. This seemed to be the answer! I could eat whatever I could possibly consume, and still lost weight! Yay! The magic answer. However, after a few years, I gained about 25 pounds and retained it for about 3 years.
Then, I discovered Weight Watchers (again) last year, with NO meetings, an iPhone app, and a sensible approach. I joined 24-hour fitness. This is the easiest of them all to follow.
1. Condition your brain. Chicken-fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy are no longer an option. But, with proper conditioning of the brain, they are no longer desired. Yes, you can learn to love salad just as much -- pretty much the same way you learned to love chicken fried steak: by eating it. (Consider your friends who dislike Indian food . . . what if they'd grown up in India?) It's all about conditioning.
2. Condition your body. I've now been hanging out in gymnasiums for 30 years . . . (hmmm, that doesn't sound right) . . . but . . . I'm always amused by the old/fat people who start and want to look like those guys who are always there with pumped up bodies . . . moving the weights to some crazy level, spending lots of time on the elliptical machines, etc. etc. etc. They last about a week. Take it easy! Body building is not so good for your body! My workout today includes 7 minutes on the bike, 10 minutes on the treadmill, and about 20 minutes on the circuit machines for a 37-45 minute total workout. I keep the weights low and the reps high. Easy and enjoyable, not punishment. (For heaven's sake, don't punish yourself! You'll never come back!)
3. Drink alcohol, but not too much. (enough said)
4. Take your pills.
5. Tell the truth.
6. Do what you say you'll do . . . especially, "to thine own self be true."
7. Reduce your consumption of processed foods.
8. Drink green tea in lieu of coffee -- lots of it -- google-search the health benefits of this one.
9. Condition your spiritual self. Meditate. Pray. Get on the living channel. Help others -- help yourself.
And last, don't drink diet sodas.