Please read or re-read last month’s column (“May I be blunt?” on our website and Oyster Pointer’s July “To Your Health” column). It’ll make what follows more meaningful.
In the closing last month, I said I’d tell you how to get rid of that dangerous, deep, heart-encompassing visceral fat. And the answer is: The same way as the unsightly but less dangerous subcutaneous fat I described.
Nutritional discipline, what we eat, is important for the long-term health of our body’s systems. But while the last and the next diet may convince you otherwise, what we eat is not the primary weapon to fight body fat. The only guaranteed way not to have body fat is not to gain it. I know, I know, that’s not fair, but I’m just being blunt here.
Is my message to discourage? Nope, it’s to clarify; to tell you the truth and not to (pun intended) sugarcoat it. Documented facts from thousands of studies confirm the difficulty in losing fat and keeping it off by dieting. What to do? Just give up? For starters, no matter how overweight you are, 20 pounds or 120 pounds or 220 pounds, your first step is do not gain another ounce!
If you are trying to lose body fat, you’re just not active enough, and you probably haven’t been for a long time. The solution is simple, but like most things of value, it’s not easy. If it were, we wouldn’t have so much unhealthy body fat in this country, which is costing all of us a lot of money. Calories are not the enemy. We just have to burn more of ’em. A lot more than our cushy, automated lifestyle requires.
For instance, recently we’ve added these insidious little info-gathering gadgets into our homes. While their purpose is obviously to target our potential shopping habits, their result is yet another “labor-saving” tool. Play some blues, Alexa. Turn off the lights, Alexa. All without rising from the soft easy chair command post.
Farmers in this country, before all the helpful, laborsaving, mechanical additions, consumed far more calories than most of us and were strong and lean. Olympian Michael Phelps reportedly consumed roughly 12,000 calories a day during training. And, as you may recall, Phelps was fit and lean. I’ve spent some time in Tanzania/Africa and everyone walks. They walk and they carry and they’re not overweight. I think I saw three overweight people out of thousands. For dramatic evidence about this, please read my column from a few years ago (also on our website) on the Pima tribe in U.S. vs. in Mexico.
I’m not a fan of the oft-quoted cliché: “Everything in moderation.” A more realistic view is that there are many things that need changing. There are many things that are unacceptable and need to be avoided. Moderation is often a cop-out concept for not having the discipline to do what’s needed.
Recent guidelines recommend 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise. Ha! That’s not enough to maintain a fit person so it’s definitely not enough to improve a sedentary, unhealthy, unfit person. How much then? That varies by individual and involves attitudes, activities and adjustments—not just exercise. Stand and walk every 30 minutes, always walk to the furthest bathroom, drink a glass of water before meals, stand and walk during every TV commercial or after every 10 pages in your book. Walk to work, walk during your lunch hour, use the stairs, sell your riding mower, park in the furthest parking spot, walk your dog longer, wash your own car, walk in the airport while waiting, start cycling with a group, dance—and still add say, 90 minutes of something that makes you sweat. Every day.
Come on, is it realistic to expect all that? I don’t know. How badly do you want or need to lose body fat? Go back a generation or two and it wasn’t a choice. I’m not suggesting you do anything our training staff and I don’t do. I hear you asking: Come on, seriously? Yes, seriously we do. And you can, too!