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  Wednesday July 25th, 2007

SUBJECT: Dieting

You can hardly avoid hearing someone talk about dieting, exercise or general health concerns these days.  Personally I could never commit to a "diet" or exercise regiment despite my being diabetic and knowing it is good for me.  With that said, I always enjoyed school sports and the brutal first few weeks that made your body feel like it just couldn't take any more.  So why don't I exercise and diet.  Well for one I'm not a masochist.  Second, in school, or for the first weeks that I had a trainer when I attempted working out at a gym, I had someone that was there to keep me on track.  Third the results don't come as quickly as the drive fades.

So why am I blogging about this?  Well I'm sick of hearing people bitch and complain about it.  My nickname isn't slim and for that matter it's not tubby either.  I do feel for the people that eat better or less than I yet are much heavier than I because I can only image the metal anguish that they face when thinking about slimming down.  So where do I fit?  I found an article on Wikipedia about body mass index (BMI) and found that my BMI is about twenty-nine.  A BMI of 30 is considered obese, OUCH!.  Anyway I need to make a point here somewhere.

Lets take a moment to look at financial costs either way.  If you're dieting there is the potential cost for the exercise program that you are following.  That could be tapes, gym memberships, home equipment etc.  Then there is the diet or should I say diets, not to mention healty food seems to be more costly than the quick less nutritious meals.  On the flip side of that, heavier people, generally speaking eat more and have more health problems throughout their lives.  I didn't put dollar figures here so you can brainstorm this on your own.

My suggestion for people struggling with diet and exercise while avoiding the above costs is rather simple in nature.  First of all write down what you eat.  Yes, this is a pain in the ass to get used to but it does work.  You'll see more places suggesting this or have it built into their plan.  Being diabetic I've had to deal with this and found that hey it works!  By writing down what you eat you are first less tempted to eat.  Why?  If you are honest about writing it down it's additional work before the food can hit your mouth.  It's even better if you measure or weigh what you are about to eat.  I'm a carb counter, but pretty much anything you use as a measurement is a great starting point.  When you start writing things down, don't change what you are doing or eating.  Let the extra work of journaling do it's work first.  After a weeks time tally up the total of what you're measuring and use that as your starting point.  Then look up the recommendation for you.  Great places to start are sites like the USDA.gov, although a simple Google search will provide you with several different recommendations.  In my case with counting carbs the recommendation that I found was about 300 grams per day.  In doing research for this post I found and article on the USDA's website that stated 'the daily carbohydrate intake for adults and children is only 130 grams which is based on how much the glucose the brain need'. In any case typically lower is better. For most people I would recommend counting calories. 

The great thing about counting one value is that you don't have to eliminate anything from your diet, all you need to do is make choices so that you meet your goal.  For example lets say you are counting calories and your target is 2000 per day.  When you are planning your day or next meal and you look at your choices you can have either that one piece of Mrs. Smith's Carrot w/Cream Cheese Frosting for 300 calories or 85+ servings of carrots for the same calories intake.  With that information in front of you it's up to you to ensure that you're not still hungry and that you stay under your goal.  The one thing you are not doing is saying to your self you CAN'T have something.

Exercise and physical activity is another great tool, but as I mentioned earlier 30 minutes a day or several times a week doesn't work for me.  I prefer to con myself into exercise.  Personally I prefer an activity such as hiking or backpacking, or even walking for that matter.  To me, these activities are not exercise but a relaxing and enjoyable activity.  The other thing that people many times forget is the activities in their daily lives and how a small adjustment can make a world of difference.  Lets take shopping for example.  Most of the time we fight our way for the close parking spot, many times taking twice as long to find one as it would have to just take the first spot that came along and walk in.  Well, that extra few steps you just took is helping you out. 

Continuing with walking a great tool to use if you are being a good little recorder is to get a pedometer.  There are some diets based upon a 10,000 step daily routine.  Using a pedometer you can strive for a goal, again it doesn't have to be 10,000.  After you end your day look at the pedometer and decide if you need to plan a walk.  1 mile takes about 15 to 20 mins on average, is about 2000 steps, and burns about 300 calories.  With this logic you "could" take a 1 mile walk to get that piece of carrot cake mentioned earlier.  Ah good old math!

Other great daily activities would include housework and gardening.  If you're like me housework is right up there on my list with regimented exercise however the immediate result of looking at a clean home is quite gratifying.

Summary:

1.  Watch what you eat by journaling.
2.  Don't take shortcuts
3.  Have a daily goal
4.  Inform someone of what you are doing that will keep you honest a partner is probably the best as long as they're serious about doing it.
5.  Don't forget, this isn't a temporary thing, it's a life change.  If you screw up one day start fresh the next day.
Good Luck!

References:
CalorieKing - A great website for finding nutritional information about foods.
Calorie Calculator
The Walking Site - Great information for walkers of all types.

 
     

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