by Fr Richard Heilman | February 12, 2015 5:50 pm
Among all those special offers that will be mailed to you at the start of any new year will be gym subscriptions and the endless plethora of “new science based diets” designed to make you lose 50 pounds in as many days without effort. You will have already heard “experts” on TV tell you that you need to stick to what you find easy so that you will stick to a new habit at all. They are already marking you for failure before you have even started. I would argue that sticking to what we find easy is exactly the attitude that got us out of physical shape in the first place. We need a revolution of thought, a no compromise, single minded approach, particularly as we first start out.
Psychologists tell us that it takes about 21 days of doing the same things every day to form a habit. This may be true, but if we are battling food addictions that have lasted for decades it is not going to be as easy as a 21 day fix. That being said, our only battle is today. Do not think far ahead. Not even a week ahead. Consentrate only on the day at hand. This is true in the spiritual life, as our Blessed Lord taught us Himself, and it is true with almost everything we do, esspecially with regards to our health. Do not missunderstand what I am saying however. You NEED a plan. He (or she) who fails to plan, plans to fail, but do not concentrate your energy on the difficulties ahead of you, concentrate only on what needs to be done today.
When if comes to Physical well being, nutrition is the other half of the equation. Whether you want to be fit for sports, to avoid future serious medical problems, or to lose weight, getting your nutrition right is as important as anything you do in the gym or during your exercise time. You will have heard it said “You are what you eat.” In terms of the substance that makes up our bodies this is literally true. For better or for worse, what we put into our bodies on a daily basis is what our bodies become. We have become a nation of over fed, under nurished people and so it is little wonder that obesity has become such a great problem not to mention all forms of cancer being on the rise.
The first thing I would advise anyone to do if they are serious about losing weight is to limit their eating out to once a week. Most foods we consume when we eat out are full of everything from sodium and fat, to hormones and any number of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Many processed foods are even chemically adictive. This is particularly so with fast food and it does not take a genius to work out why this is so. So that customers continue to return right? Fast food is fast, easy, and financially reasonable, but lets ask ourselves the question: Is this really food at all?
The second thing I would advise is to stay clear of diets which emphesize one element over another. Zero protein diets, or zero fat diets, zero carb diets, and the like. These are not designed with your best interests in mind but with the contents of your wallet in mind.
The third piece of advice I would give is perhaps the most important. NEVER give up! Do not aim to lose 20 pounds in your first week like they do on the Biggest Loser program. Unless you have a full time medical team in your corner and can devote eight hours a day to training this is simply not going to happen. Set reasonable goals. Weight lost at a slow but steady pace is weight that is usually lost for good. Your target should be somewhere in the range of 2 pounds per week. This might not sound like much progress but bare in mind that by this time next year you will have lost (if you have it to lose) 104 pounds. Weight lost quickely runs the risk of coming back all the more quickely and I am sure there are people reading this now who know exactly what I am talking about from their own personal experience. Trainers and physiologists call it the “Rebound effect” work with the body not against it.
Now, back to diets. The human body is designed by God to make the most of everything it consumes. Therefore, if you starve the body, the bodies metabolism (rate of using energy) slows down to compensate. This is exactly what you do not want to happen if you are trying to lose weight. The faster you can get your metabolic rate, the more energy you will burn, and that equates to calories and ultimately fat. Also, starvation or deprivation type diets will make the body lose critical muscle mass which in turn will drive down your metabolism further. You may also be depriving yourself of key electrolytes which over time can even be very dangerous. Find foods that contain a spcific amino acid called Lucine. It maintains muscle mass during the process of losing fat. It can be found in cottage cheese and in some protein supplements. Use only the supplements that extract their nutrients from real food. I will go into that at a later date.
What you need to aim for is a balanced diet. Keep track of your caloric intake and try to aim for about 2000 calories per day. You will need to check this figure acording to your weight. There should be a table you can check on a good nutrition website that will give you your specific caloric target for your weight.
I hope this is not too much to get started with. If anyone has a question related to what I have written, please do not hesitate to send me an email and I will try to answer them all in good time.
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