What to do? What to do? To lose weight…

Probably due to a selective memory, even after living a full and admittedly self-indulgent life, when asked recently what regrets I have, I only thought of one. My Dad, who had a very curious mind, was never able to experience Google. All of recorded history and all of known information at our fingertips. Whew! Well, I sure take advantage of it, and that’s exactly where I went to find some data to inspire this column about our health. I asked the following questions in sequence:

  • What is the leading cause of death in the U.S.? Heart disease.
  • What are the leading risk factors for heart disease in the U.S.? Obesity and high blood pressure.
  • What is the leading cause of obesity in the U.S.? Insufficient physical activity.
  • What is the leading cause of high blood pressure in the U.S.? Not enough regular physical activity.

These are facts. Measurable recorded facts. And yet, when I tell someone I have a personal fitness training business the first question is about diet. I didn’t say I was a registered dietitian (RD) or a registered nutritionist dietitian (RDN), so I’ve always found it odd this query focuses there.

I know, I know, many of you may want me to at least pay homage to dietary strategies. OK, I will. But briefly. A few years ago, I went to Africa a couple of times (to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro). I know what the dietary practices are there because I saw them. I know what physical activities are required to survive because I observed them, too. In the U.S. almost 40 percent (39.4 percent) of us are obese and 65 percent are overweight. I spent about two weeks in Africa. Tanzania, to be specific. I saw thousands of people. I saw three obese people. Three.

Now, back to the above measurable facts which I’m qualified to discuss and hopefully will inspire some healthy behaviors. Without readily available processed packaged high-calorie foods and drinks, combined with the amount of physical activity required just to get through their day, the Tanzanians don’t get fat. They walk and carry and plant and harvest. Their day is very active physically. That’s my dietary guidance.

While improving the quality of your nutrition will benefit your overall health in many, many ways, it’s just not the key to losing body fat. To lose body fat and keep it off, we need to be more physically active.

I’m writing this in January so all media is bursting with information and clever secret tips and plans about losing body fat in 2024. But this is not a secret. This is not a mystery. Life in the U.S. is easy. Very easy physically. If any of us eat more calories than we burn, the excess is stored as fat. But unhealthy food and drink is everywhere. And it tastes good. What to do? What to do?

Glad you asked. In case you think my “dietary guidance” seems oversimplified, I’ll offer this qualified guide for “What to do?” C’mon, this is not complicated. And it’s not oversimplified; it is simple. The clear unavoidable answer is: More. Stop eating and drinking all the stuff you already know you should not be consuming, of course. But “What to actually do?”

More. I think that’s why the initial questions are always about dietary plans. It’s easier to plan changes than to actually do more.