By Richard Ray:
Disclaimer: I am no doctor or licensed dietitian. I am a person with distinct and vivid memories of my former 6 pack abs (on a really great day even 8) and long for a return of shirtless pics that dont necessitate me looking for the right angles and someone to stand in front of me.
Father time is undefeated against everything and everybody, but no where is his reign more dominate and obvious than in its beatdown of vanity. In the end we all lose out to time, slower metabolisms and changes in our bodies compositions and reactions to old habits.
Daily exercise as a healthy lifestyle choice should always be undertaken. Whether you lift weights or engage in some cardiovascular activity, some form of exercise should be a part of our daily lives. However, all the cardio in the world will only be but so effective if we do not pay some attention to our diet at the same time.
Let me first make the distinction between dieting and our diet. Many of us can attest to being able to eat any and everything as kids or even young adults, with little consequence to our waistline or appearance, regardless of whether exercise was an active part of our lives. We also know as we get older, that all changes. Our metabolism probably changes several times in our lifestyle and never in a more positive or rapid manner.
As our bodies change we need to make changes as well. Unfortunately far too many of us choose dieting as a quick fix to overcoming years of bad habits. The dieting industry is a multi-billion dollar mind f*** that touts quick weight loss through every gimmick known to man. Dieting is not usually healthy and while some do receive significant weight loss through dieting, the depravation and quick fix mentality usually does not last long, and often people regain the weight if not more after they resume the bad habits that were never addressed by the temporary fix of dieting.
Watching your diet is not about quick weight loss goals, but a lifestyle change that will result in slower weight loss but sustainable results over time. Watching your diet is about eating better, more vegetables, less processed foods and sugar. Most importantly, I believe watching your diet is ultimately about portion control. Depriving yourself from foods you like and taste good is not as much of a long term solution as teaching yourself to simply have much less of all of the things that we know are not good for us.
If you stop drinking soda or having sweets completely you will undoubtedly be better off. However, at some point when you have any of those items that you have deprived yourself completely of, you may be inclined to overindulge once exposed again. Barring doctor’s orders to stay away from any particular food items, I suggest working on a life of moderation and portion control. I let my junk food and soda obsession, reach epically bad proportions. I justified it in part because I exercised regularly and my waistline could still be hidden by most free hanging shirts.
Then I broke my hand and could not exercise for months. Not so suddenly years of bad habits in my lack of portion control and self discipline made my sweets obsession not okay and I had the physique to prove it. I won’t lie, it has taken a while and some not so gentle ribbing by a few close to me, for the switch to really turn on. I know that I cannot drop weight like I once could. More importantly I knew that I needed to make some better long term choices in my relationship with food, to live the healthy lifestyle I had always preached to others.
I do not drink or smoke, so junk food and soda were always rationalized as the lesser of those evils. Perhaps they are, but regardless I knew that I could not eat and drink soda the way I was without long term repercussions and short term blows to my vanity. I also know myself and realize that I was going to have to do this in stages not some quick fix depravation that I know would backfire over time.
So with the holiday season approaching, I decided I would change my diet. I still eat all the bad stuff and drink far above the recommended soda intake, but I am doing much less than I was. I still have a ways to go in lowering my portions of certain unhealthy choices, but I can already see some of the benefits of the changes made. I am intensely exercising 3 times a week, trying to get up to 4-5 times a week. I know the combination of exercise and eating better and less is the right choice for me. I feel better and I know I already look better, with room for improvement on both ends.
Nothing I am talking about is gimmicky. I am not trying for a quick fix, though I won’t lie about an upcoming trip to Hawaii as added motivation. Most importantly I am trying to be realistic as to my vices and instead of lying to myself, manage them in an ongoing attainable way. Dieting and depravation from foods you like will work, but only in the short term. Long term health and benefits will only come from watching what we eat. This means both eating better and being conscious of portion control. It is not easy, but a long term fix to a long term issue.
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