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Nobody ever complains about too much exercise

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Let’s face it — sitting on the couch and eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream by the pint is no way to get in shape.

But for so many people in this country, the most overweight in the world, that is the perfect way to wind down after a hard day’s work. Forget the old notion of having a beer or a stiff drink, ice cream and cookies are our poison, and will likely kill us just as quickly as the former.

For every excuse that people have to eat poorly and be lazy, there are at least a dozen reasons why people should eat better and be more active. Let me list a few:

- You will live longer.

- You will be able to walk your daughter down the aisle.

- You’ll be able to play a game of catch with your son.

- People will respect you more.

- You can wear shorts without being embarrassed.

- You can get a tan.

- You will recover faster from illnesses.

- Your muscles and joints won’t constantly ache.

- Your back will not hurt.

- Your posture will improve.

- You’ll be able to pick anything out of your closet and know that it will fit.

- You can play with your kids.

- You will be happier.

Before anybody dismisses this as a diatribe against being overweight by somebody who doesn’t understand, let me clarify something. I am overweight. For the most part, I have been since I was 8 years old. I had a couple of good years in college, but other than that I have always been bigger than all of my friends, most of my family and just about anybody else I know.

This year, when I realized that the amount of weight I needed to lose had tipped 100 pounds, I decided to finally do something about it and stick to it. For more on that see BRIAN’S STORY, Page 5.

But enough about me for now. Let’s talk about you.

Whether you’re just a little out of shape or in need of a full-body overhaul, there isn’t anybody out there who doesn’t need a healthy dose of exercise.

Exercise is what burns fat, it’s what flushes out cholesterol from building up in your arteries and its what keeps your heart strong and healthy. Unless you take the steps to make your heart healthy, you will die much sooner than you had anticipated when you were a child.

And best of all, exercise is so simple. If you can walk to the fridge, you can exercise. If you take a stroll outdoors for 15 minutes a day—long enough to raise your heart rate just a little—you are doing your body good. If you want to take it further, and actually walk at a fast pace, all the better.

Wasn’t that simple? And all it takes is using your own two feet. No fancy equipment necessary, no gym membership, no special plan you have to buy.

Now if something a little more structured is more your cup of tea, there are plenty of options. From gyms to personal trainers to spas that offer full-body care, there are plenty to choose from. SEE GYM/SPA Page 6.

Whatever the choice is, it is one that you need to make. Take it from a guy who has tried just about every idea, no matter how strange. If you need to do something to get in better shape, do it. Frankly, nobody ever finished doing some exercise and felt that they shouldn’t have done it. It can only get better, and, for an alarming percentage of us, it absolutely has to.

As for eating better, the odds are against us. Between the fast food cholesterol bombs we eat every day and the enormous portions that come on our plates at even the best restaurants, it’s hard to eat a healthy meal when we eat out.

At home, our habits are even worse. How many people actually know what a portion of pasta is? Did you know that a half cup is the recommended amount? Did you know that most bowls hold between one and a half and two cups? And how many bowls do you eat?

One single slice of Genoa salami has as much fat in it as four ounces of lean beef. One slice of cheese equals another four ounces of beef. Yet how many of us eat a sandwich that has the meat and cheese piled on before we even slather on the mayonnaise or put on oil and vinegar? We, as a country, really don’t know how to eat.

Many of us also can’t tell the difference between feeling hungry and feeling thirsty. Did you know that after you have a cup of coffee in the afternoon, that feeling you get is not hunger, but thirst that results from the caffeine causing dehydration?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t drink coffee, but we should be aware of what the things we eat and drink make us crave.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned the word crave. That is a touchy subject for most of us. Cravings can be a killer. When you crave ice cream, odds are you’re not looking for a scoop or two—you want the whole container. And even though you tell yourself that you only want a couple of scoops, you seem to be confused when you realize that, somehow, the container is empty.

That might be because we are emotional eaters, and we let deep-seeded feelings decide what it is we put into our bodies. See EMOTIONAL EATING, Page 8.

We all need to control what we eat, be aware of what we are putting into our bodies, and treat ourselves better. America is so overweight that visitors from other countries are cautioned before they come here. “The servings are enormous,” they are told. “You’ll put on so much weight.”

Well, we all go out to eat now and then. Aren’t they right? If you’d like some ideas of what to eat that is better for you and still tastes good, check out HEALTHY EATING on page 9.

So please, read this from cover to cover. This is one of the most important sections we at the TimesLedger put out. This is about life, health and well-being—three things we all want but may not know how to get.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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