For virgins…

While I know some of you follow my columns regularly (because you tell me), I always have to remember some of you are reading me for the first time.

This comfortably readable publication consistently expands its distribution and brings new readers on board. So, for my regulars: If some of these themes sound repetitious, the information is still valuable, and repeating is a proven way to make it stick. For virgin readers: Welcome!

When asked about my profession and Personal Fitness Trainer is my reply, the most common follow-up question is about what to eat/what not to eat. This may sound reasonable to you, but it doesn’t to me. While I concede that nutrition is an important part of a healthy life, why is that the most common part I’m asked about? (New readers beware: If easily offended, do not continue).

My answer is that if someone has let himself or herself get out of shape (pun intended), it’s a lot easier to talk about the dietary changes needed to make than to hear the cold hard truth. Which is, over the years you’ve slowly lost lean muscle tissue and just as slowly gained body fat. You are now officially weaker and have lost some daily energy. This is primarily because you’re not active enough.

You no longer run, climb, jump, play…or even walk enough. It’s not about what you eat or don’t eat (I’ve already said that’s important and I’ll address it later). Fact is you’d rather talk and think about dietary changes you’re going to make (and you’re very sincere about this. You’re going to start…oh, probably Monday. Yes, that’s it. First of the week, you’ll start). What you need to do is start activities that require physical effort. Activities that make you sweat. And you need to start not Monday but Today!

I don’t care how long every day you do it. The time will take care of itself, as you will yourself to do something. Because…it will feel good to take charge of your health and get started. As you improve, as you slowly get in better physical shape, you will feel better, move better with less discomfort and find more day-to-day energy. But you need to earn your improvement. And doing more, whether your scale shows you’re losing overall weight or not, is the path to better overall health.

What you choose to eat or not eat can become a priority after you’re actually doing more. Much more. Daily. But you say, “I’ll give up my ice cream, I’ll switch to skim milk, I’ll stop eating chips….” I don’t care. Nutrition is more about the long-term health of your body’s systems than it is about immediate improvements you will feel.