Why am I interested in this subject? It's really pretty simple. I know what's going to happen to you. It's not that I'm psychic or anything, it's just that I do a lot of work with old people, and I can see what kind of shape you are going to be in twenty or thirty years down the road if you keep up the crap that you're doing now. If Alzheimer's doesn't get you (and yes, you can lessen your risk of Alzheimer's via some lifestyle choices) and cancer doesn't get you (and yes, you can lessen your risk of cancer via some lifestyle choices), if you're fat and out of shape, in your old age (maybe sooner!), you are very likely to suffer from unnecessarily bad knees, poor balance, some form of diabetes, COPD, high blood pressure, brittle bones, and general frailty. I am not exaggerating in the slightest. I see this constellation of conditions all the time. Please believe me, you don't want to wind up there.
I know you already know that. I know that you've tried and failed to get fitter, or you've wished you could find the time, or you've been planning on getting started--next week, or next month, or whatever. I'm not trying to condemn you. And I hope you don't think that I'm telling you that you have to get boot-camp skinny and fit to avoid all these illnesses. I'm not. An extra ten or fifteen pounds or so (depending largely on your gender, height, etc.) isn't that big a deal as long as you are otherwise reasonably fit.
It's the people that are seventy, eighty, more than a hundred pounds overweight that concern me.
Used to be, most of those people were at least in their fifties. You can easily understand how it might happen. You live in the United States, after all, not one of those third-world countries where the day's activities consist of finding enough twigs to roast your supper of grubs and berries. Here, there's food everywhere. I know office personnel who keep candy bowls on their desks, for cryin' loud, just for the sake of passers-by! Under circumstances like that, it is easy to understand how a person could pick up five pounds a year from 25 to 65, and wind up, at retirement, a hundred or more pounds too heavy. But over the last decade or so, I have seen more and more young people--thirty and younger--that are grossly overweight. It is mind-blowing that anyone could gain that kind of weight that fast. Here is a brief explanation of how it might be done, and perhaps some insight into how you might avoid the same fate yourself, or go from being seventy pounds overweight to, say, fifteen. Just for example.
You can find a lot of places on the web that will tell you all about calorie requirements--here, it says that the "average" man needs about 2500 and the "average" woman needs about 2000. WebMd says that according to their formula
...a 25-year-old man who exercises 30 to 60 minutes every day with moderate or vigorous activity should eat about 2,800 calories a day, while a sedentary 65-year-old woman needs just 1,600 calories. An active 45-year-old man needs 2,600 calories, while an active woman of the same age needs 2,000 (also for 30 to 60 minutes of exercise each day).I didn't go to the trouble of looking up how many calories a 45-year-old couch potato needs, but I'm pretty sure it's not 2,800 for men and 2,000 for women. How many people of any age do you know who are getting 30 to 60 minutes of exercise every day? Before you answer that question, let me suggest to you that people who are getting that amount of exercise typically know more people who are getting regular exercise, and vice versa, so your own lifestyle will probably skew your answer a little bit. And let me also suggest that walking around your workplace at a normal pace and that playing with small children isn't really "exercise" in any meaningful sense.
Okay, now that you've come to your depressing conclusions about whether or not you or anyone else you know is really "active," let's look at some other numbers:
calories in a 20-oz bottle of pepsi=250So, let's see how your day looks--and hope that you don't say to yourself, "Has he been watching me?"
calories in a candy bar--200-300
calories in a plain donut--185
calories in a 12-oz latte--120-200
calories in a slice of fruit pie--200-300
calories in a can of beer--150
calories in a chocolate-chip cookie--130
calories in a serving (3/4 cup) of captain crunch--109
calories in a large french fry--500
calories in a double cheeseburger--650
calories in a slice of pepperoni pizza--290
You go to bed late because you've been watching cable tv, or reading some reactionary, right-wing redneck's blog. You get up later than you should. You are in a hurry. After getting yourself together in the bathroom, you stagger to the kitchen and wolf down a big bowl of your kids' breakfast cereal. There is no way that is 3/4 cup. It's at least 1 1/2 cups. That's 218 calories, assuming you didn't scoop sugar on it, which of course you do, and off the top of my head, that's about 50 calories a teaspoon, and you use two, so that's 318 calories at least, even before you get out of the house.
When you do get out of the house, you realize that you haven't had your caffeine fix, so you stop at Starbuck's or Quik Trip and pick yourself up a latte. A 12-oz one is 120-200 calories. Does anyone ever actually get a 12-oz latte? And while you're there, you might as well get a donut. A plain one is about 185 calories.
About two and a half hours later, it's time for your morning break. Time for a Pepsi. A 20-oz bottle is 250 calories. Have a chocolate-chip cookie with that? Mais oui! Another 130 calories.
A couple hours later, it's time for lunch. Considering that "all" you've had to eat is a bowl of cereal, a donut, and a cookie, you're hungry. You go get a combo meal at the burger joint. The double burger is 650 calories. The large fries are 500 calories. A 20-oz drink is 250 calories, but of course, that's the "small" size these days, so you've got a 32-oz frosty beverage for about 400 calories. On the way back, you pick up a candy bar--about 250 calories--for your afternoon break.
Of course, you are feeling a little bit waxed by the time that afternoon break rolls around. You need some caffeine. Pepsi has caffeine. There's another 250 calories.
You are in a hurry for dinner. You certainly didn't put anything in the crock pot, so you need to pick up something fast. How about pizza? You eat three--no, four--slices of pepperoni pizza at 290 calories each. More pepsi? No, it's time to relax. Have a couple of 150-calorie beers. Finish up with a slice of that pie that's in the fridge for 250 more calories.
Okay, let's add that up:
cereal--318And the pathetic part is that really, in terms of total volume, you maybe didn't eat that much! You might very well look at that and say to yourself, "But that's not that much. Any perfectly normal man could easily eat that much in a day. Maybe he'd be eating hearty, but that's not exactly eating like a pig, either." And you'd be right. It's not the quantity of food and beverage that you ate--it's its nature. It's pretty much all empty starches and trans fats. It is, in fine, crap. You spent your day, probably quite unwittingly and almost certainly unintentionally, eating crap.
Pepsi x 2--500
burger, fries, and drink--1550
beer x 2--300
Eating carbohydrates triggers a hormonal response—insulin secretion—that signals our bodies to accumulate fat. This is why the fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be. Sugar, flour and other refined carbohydrates produce an exaggerated version of this response, and so are particularly fattening.I highly recommend you read the whole article. There is more to the science of weight control, diet, and health than "don't eat carbs," of course, but this article will still be an eye-opener for many people.
When you don't get enough sleep, you produce more of a hormone called ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite. In other words, if you don't get enough sleep, you want to eat more. And guess what--in that state, you're much more likely to want to eat useless crap.
And, lastly: exercise. You do not have to run marathons to control your weight and be reasonably fit, but you do need something that helps you maintain your muscle mass--which is important in terms of burning calories and leveling out your blood sugar, don'tcha know--and when it comes right down to it, the "best" exercise is the one that you will actually do. Personally, I recommend karate, but you might want to try running (if you actually run, instead of plod, it's actually kind of fun) or Praisemoves or something.
There you go. Hope that helps.