It’s been a year since I began writing about my health journey and many of you have connected with me for information about what I do and to offer support. Thank you all for that – it has meant a lot to me – more than I can put into words.
Here we are at the beginning of 2023 and, wow, what a year 2022 was. Part school yard bully, part devil, and part WTF all rolled into one. We all dealt with COVID, lots of people pulled through, some didn’t get it, and some passed away. Every one of us was affected by it and many still are.
According to the CDC “having obesity may triple the risk of hospitalization due to a COVID-19 infection. Obesity is linked to impaired immune function. Obesity decreases lung capacity and reserve and can make ventilation more difficult.” – Not fun and COVID, no matter how it got here, is here to stay and we all must deal with that now.
If you need another reason to be healthier this year, a new study led by researchers at Northwestern University found that people who were obese in middle age died nearly five years earlier than those who weren’t. What’s more, individuals who are overweight in middle age had more health issues than their thinner counterparts (AARP). Not fun.
According to a study done by The New England Journal of Medicine, Americans gain around 1.3 pounds on average between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This number is much lower than the amount of weight Americans believe they gain during the holiday season, but it is still significant as overeating for weeks at a time over the extended holidays (Halloween through New Year’s) can set you up for a one pound per month weight gain for the entire year. Not fun.
Okay – enough of the “not fun” stuff. What can you do? First, I am not a believer in the New Year’s Resolutions thing. You can be resolved any time of the year and you can commit to better health when you want and not have it be based on a calendar or season. This past holiday season I went to London for a week, went to a few parties, and had several meals out with friends. None of this was on my body building meal prep plan and yet, I did not gain a pound. In fact, I came back from London just before Christmas weighing 3 pounds less and yet, I ate pretty much what I wanted – how did this happen?
In a word – moderation. Now, as a body builder I eat about 2300 calories a day and of that I have 200 grams a protein a day, about 80 grams of carbs, and about 55 grams of fat. That may be more than most people need, but it works for me. I eat 6-7 times a day, so my blood sugar stays level, and I am rarely hungry. Even knowing that, I have eaten ice cream (don’t tell my trainer), and other sweets in London and ate calorie heavy items like real, rich, and creamy homemade Italian Polenta, as well as many other things. To offset that, I also ate a lot of protein bars and veggies so even on my “worst” day I was only a few hundred calories above my target and not much over in fat or carbs.
Really, it’s two words: Moderation and tracking. Any food or beverage I consume I track on an app. It helps me make sure I know what’s going on in my body and no matter what I can go back and see why I gained weight. Many people say that they can remember what they ate. Maybe so… but from 3 months ago, and everything? If they can, my hat’s off to them. I can’t fully remember yesterday. It also makes me totally responsible to myself for my actions. It takes about 20 seconds per meal, so it’s not a big deal at all. If you want to lose weight, keep track of what you eat for just seven days and all your patterns will show up and you can make a course correction if needed.
TIP: When at the grocery store get your food from the “outer departments” and not the center of the store. In every grocery store you can think of the outer departments are all the fresh foods, meat, vegetables, fruits, eggs, etc. The inner aisles have all the canned and boxed processed foods – most of which aren’t very good for you. Processed foods rarely are.
Okay, three words: Moderation, tracking, and cardio. Let me tell you, I hate cardio. It’s dull, boring, and mind-numbing to me. I do love to hike so that’s a saving grace and now I have fell in love with Pickle Ball so I am getting the cardio I need. Here’s the thing, even if your level of exercise allows you walk around the block, do it. Then every couple of days, add a few more feet. It can take a while to build up your stamina. It is a marathon, not a sprint. I had to learn how to take it step by step while building my muscles. I wanted it faster and that just wasn’t going to happen, patience is key.
As we go into 2023, don’t make a New Year’s resolution, make a commitment to better your health and your life. Everything points to the fact that extra weight is a true negative in your life and you deserve to live a rich and long one, but you have to take the first step to the best you possible. Make it good choice and a fantastic year.