The greatest wealth is Health. — Unknown
Okay, you’re thinking: Oh boy, not another diet plan and exercise program. Yeah, you know, you need to exercise each day, starve yourself most of the time every other day, and in between consume some of the most insipid snacks and meals ever conceived by bulimic health food preparers! And this you have to do for the rest of your life? Still, there’s always another volume on dieting and weight control you haven’t read and tried, and at least one more exercise class you can join to make you trim and fit as a fiddle before year’s end.
Well, although there are enough books on the subject to fill a good portion of the Library of Congress, who has the time (let alone the sticktoitness!) to read and try one or more of them? Especially when you consider that most of these new high-tech exercise programs and dieting plans are more complicated and involved than charting strands of DNA!
You know that staying healthy and achieving permanent weight loss can be a slow and laborious proposition and certainly a very painful one. But it needn’t be. All one really requires is a simple plan of attack, a little determination and a willingness to alter eating habits and get the body engaged in some physical activity.
The exercise and eat to stay trim and fit plan here is quite simple and doesn’t involve joining gyms, buying exercise tapes, training for the Olympics, becoming a vegetarian, taking diet pills, subsisting on tofu or M&M peanuts, or starving one’s self out of existence! The plan consists of two simple regimens and one very simple step: mild exercise and good eating habits, and the mantra “start today.”
First though, you must set a goal, and one that initially is not too difficult to reach. If you need to lose thirty pounds and lower your blood pressure forty notches, set the first goal to lose five pounds in one or two months, and to lower your blood pressure five or more heartbeats in the same time frame. First though, begin with a regimen of mild exercise.
Start today with ten minutes of walking, five minutes of weight training and five minutes of exercising the waist and stomach. If twenty minutes is too much to begin with, then start today with a regimen of ten to fifteen minutes of exercise. In a week or so you can add another five minutes of total exercise time. And each time thereafter you can increase the regimen until you are exercising at least an half to one hour per day three to four days per week.
Don’t like walking? Is walking too strenuous for you? Then try swimming, bicycling or jogging lightly in place. Jump rope, jumping jacks and light aerobics on a soft, carpeted surface are each good substitutes for walking. Or you can purchase a stair climber or stationary bike to use at home. Surprisingly there are a number of models available for well under a hundred dollars. It is important though that you incorporate a cardiovascular exercise in your regimen. But start out slow and light, as you should with light weight training for muscle tone and trimming off fat.
Five or ten pound weights are more than adequate to begin with. Don’t have any weights or don’t want to turn your home into a gym? Well, grab a chair or some other small piece of furniture (remember Jack LaLanne?) and let your imagination guide you towards creating simple lifting exercises. Start today with a kitchen chair or small stool. You’ll be surprised how many innovative exercises you can up with to work and tone your neck, back, arms and legs.
And yes, each of us needs to exercise and tone the midriff. But five minutes of various forms of leg-lifts, sit-ups and stomach crunches will more than do the trick! While lying on one’s back, side or front there are literally dozens of stress-free exercises that can be done to strengthen back and stomach muscles as well as the thighs and calves. And doing these exercises five minutes a day three days a week will see results in no time at all.
Ten minutes of cardiovascular exercise, five minutes with weights and five minutes exercising the midriff is a practical goal to begin with. But start today! Even ten minutes of overall light exercise can be immensely beneficial. For the real secret to establishing and maintaining a successful exercise program is simply starting one. Doing a little exercise today and then a little bit more tomorrow and continuing this each week will lead to a regular exercise program wherein you will achieve and maintain permanent weight control, good muscle tone and increased energy.
After a while, exercising will become as second nature to you as eating good food! And eating good, healthy food is what dieting and maintaining good health are all about. But first off, think of yourself as thin and visualize yourself in control of when and what you eat.
Start doing this today and repeat the process throughout each day. Then plan your meals and snacks in advance making sure to substitute lean, fat-free or low-in-fat courses like soup and salad and pasta and rice dishes for steak, potatoes, pizza, hamburgers and other fat-filled foods.
Sweet, tasty fruits and vegetables like apples, oranges, pears, grapes, peaches, carrots, celery, olives and sweet potatoes can easily take the place of ice cream, pastry and candy. Fruit juice, organic smoothies and other health drinks are certainly a good stand-in for soda pop and chocolate shakes.
Avoid restaurants for a while and do not read or watch television when you eat. Concentrate on your eating, on the size of each meal you consume, making a commitment to always eat less than what you’re used to eating and by never taking a second helping and always leaving some food on the plate. Never eat standing up and put your utensils down after each mouthful. Don’t refill until you have swallowed. Before dinner, snack on some fresh raw vegetables and avoid high-calorie dips. Before dessert, go for a walk or play some ping-pong or Frisbee. It takes a little while for your mind to realize that your stomach is full. If you allow time between your main course and dessert, you will gradually want or need to eat less.
In this magazine and elsewhere you will regularly find an incredible selection of recipes geared towards helping dieters and others who wish to start eating sensibly while still enjoying meals that are low in fat and sugar but nutritional and high in fiber. Be careful with the condiments you select. Avoid tartar sauce and mayonnaise which are high in fat (unless you can find healthy brands which are not) and replace them with mustard or steak sauce (unless you need to avoid food that is heavily salted). Have wheat pancakes with syrup but with no butter or margarine.
Find low-fat foods that are bread, milk, chips, nuts and grains. You can also consume lean meat like boneless chicken and pork, and fish and shellfish. All vegetables are good, including most beans and even corn on the cob. But remember again, butter likes to go straight for the waist line. And of course, you should always first consult a physician before starting any exercise program or diet.
Start today, eating better and exercising just a little. It can be hard going it alone, so join a peer group or exercise and dine with friends and relatives who are interested in helping or on the same path towards losing weight and achieving better health. A tofu hamburger or a carob shake are not as bad as they sound. In fact, with a little research and imagination, both these unpleasant-sounding snacks can be quite tasty as well as immensely good for you.
If you really, truly want to enjoy permanent weight control, improve eating habits and experience a life of increased activity and renewed good health while at the same time exercising and eating to stay trim and fit, all you have to do is start today. Tomorrow, and all the weeks, months and years thereafter, will find you feeling better, looking better and becoming a better and healthier you. And all this can immediately begin to happen when you start today!