I’m probably not the person to be talking about healthy eating. While I don’t go out of my way to eat junk, I don’t go out of my way to eat healthy either. I munch cookies before bed. Drink a beer now and then. Eat Cheetos and other chips at lunch. Indulge in an occasional waffle with syrup. Hamburgers. Milkshakes. The list goes on. If I have anything to say on the matter it would be only this: when you begin to feel full, STOP! That said, I’m 48 years old and while I’ve been lower, now have body fat around 10 percent.
So what is my secret? Isn’t that what we’re all looking for? A secret? Some practical information that can help us look and feel better. Or live longer. Tips that support longevity and good health. Healthy eating might be part of that, but it’s just a part. Far more important and comprehensive is healthy living.
What in the world does that mean? Healthy living. We all know that obesity is rampant in the United States. Right now it is being blamed on everything from viruses to gut bacteria to McDonalds. Pretty much everything but laziness. And while there may be some truth to each of these being facilitators, my own feeling is that the source of the problem is a lot more obvious: lifestyle. What you do is at least as important as what you eat. If you want to feel better and look better, modifying your diet is a good start, but you’ll get far better results if you combine that with a lifestyle change.
I go to the gym probably five days a week. I haven’t always been that prolific and when I haven’t been, I’ve played soccer four or five times a week. And when I wasn’t playing soccer I was cycling. And when I wasn’t cycling I was hiking. The pattern is obvious: go do something. Anything! People weren’t made to sit all the time and they certainly weren’t made to watch television.
Most people were blessed with a marvelous body. It may not be the strongest or most beautiful, but the majority of people have serviceable equipment. Sadly, most of us let it go to waste. While we should be exploring the limitations of what we can do, improving on what God gave us, we settle for comfort and ease. And our culture of “getting-off” does everything it can to support us.
At present I’ve been lifting weights and doing cardio. One of the truths about growing older is that you begin to lose capability. It is important as we age then, to find things we can get better at. It has been shown that people begin to lose muscle mass after 35 or so, and that this accelerates as we age. I’ve gained 15 pounds of muscle in the last 8 months and am stronger than I have ever been. Eating better 20%, hard work, 80%.
It’s the New Year. What that really means to me is that the gym is going to be really crowded for another three weeks, then it’ll go back to the same people I’ve been seeing in there for years, with a few new faces. Be one of the new faces. Whether it is a gym, a tennis court, a bicycle, a pair of hiking boots, a treadmill, a rowing machine, an aerobics class, whatever – make it a part of your life. It is going to hurt at first, you’re going to be tired, and you might even fall behind on the latest season of Survivor. But, if you want to magnify the effects of healthy eating by 200%, this is the best way to do it. In the process you’re going to make new friends, find out that your are a far better athlete than you realized, and have an awesome excuse to treat yourself to some guilt-free junk food now and then! As they say: Just Do It.
John C. Brewer is a novelist, physicist, rocket scientist, lifelong soccer player, motorcycle rider, husband, father, and the author of Multiplayer, an adventure for young adults, and The Silla Project, a North Korean nuclear romance. Find out more about what he is doing at johncbrewer.com.