We can all take steps to better health
Getting back into health and fitness is a struggle for many of us. In my case, I’ve fought weight gain ever since having my children, the younger of whom just turned 30. The upheavals of life have added on the pounds because my way of dealing with most things is what I call “suicide by food.” The sweeter, the fattier, the MORE, the better. That cheeseburger, greasy fries and sweet tea with a milk shake chaser can always be depended upon to make things better — plus, I might as well put on the armor of fat to protect myself from all the above. Right?
Wrong. Oh, so wrong.
I have taken several steps to proactively focus on my health. Giving up added sugar has been the biggest lifestyle change, and although I do allow myself to have sweet treats on occasion, I’m not eating an entire pie or run of brownies at one sitting (and no, I’m not exaggerating; that’s why I can’t have the stuff in the house, much like an alcoholic cannot have any liquor within easy reach). Artificial sweeteners are not an option; if I’m going to have sweet, I’m having the real thing or I’ll have none at all. Why replace one vice with something else that is going to negatively impact my health and that I won’t even enjoy?
I haven’t had sugar in my coffee more than a half dozen times since my grandson was born in January 2010, something I would never have expected to be able to do. Giving up that Southern sweet tea has been a bit more difficult. Instead of saying I can never have it again, I tell myself I can have it once a week, but only if I want it. More times than not, I opt for water instead. Same with soft drinks, which I may have once in a blue moon. Did you know that a 12-ounce can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar, which amounts to 140 calories? A 20-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew has 77 grams of sugar and 290 calories? (Check out http://www.sugarstacks.com for more information.)
From http://www.rodale.com -sugar-intake: “Surveys have also found that the average American consumes around 22.2 teaspoons of added sugar every day. According to the new (American Heart Association at http://www.heart.org ) guidelines, we should really be eating a fraction of that amount. The recommended sugar intake for adult women is 5 teaspoons (20 grams) of sugar per day, for adult men, it’s 9 teaspoons (36 grams) daily, and for children, it’s 3 teaspoons (12 grams) a day.” This is the total of all sugars, including those “hidden” in processed foods.
My biggest health challenge is not necessarily the mechanics of following a healthier diet or getting this super-sized body to move. It begins in the brain. Many of us don’t start taking care of ourselves because we honestly don’t think we have what it takes to do what it takes — and that’s where my Biggest Loser buddy Sherry Johnston, of Knoxville, comes in. Sherry and her daughter, Ashley Johnston, appeared on Season 9 of the television show “The Biggest Loser.” I have interviewed both of these amazing ladies a couple of times and felt an immediate kinship with Sherry, who is only a couple of years younger than I am. She has such an encouraging spirit and a truly caring heart, and now she is sharing what she learned on BL in a blog, http://www.butwhatifyoucan.com .
The title comes from the words she told Ashley after that first workout with trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper. As Sherry explains on the blog, Ashley, at 374 pounds, felt discouraged thinking she couldn’t succeed. Sherry wrote, “Ever had one of those ‘God moments’ when you say something that you know had to come from God because you couldn’t have thought it on your own! I had one of those! I looked at her and said, ‘But What If YOU CAN? What if you go in the gym and YOU CAN do it?’ It had not crossed her mind — she could only see she couldn’t. We both began to change to a YOU CAN attitude, you know from Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ We could overcome hardships, we could overcome the weight, and we could succeed! And we did! We still are and YOU CAN too!”
Check out Sherry’s blog. Since it began in July, she’s posted about the benefits of good sleep and keeping a food journal as well as how to keep from drifting away from your goals. All good information — plus, sometimes hearing someone say YOU CAN is the very impetus needed to continue in a difficult task.
Right now is a good time to start taking control, a good time to renew the resolve to continue in a better path. What’s stopping you? You can do this. We both can.
Linda Albert is Sunday Life editor and a staff writer for The Daily Times. Her column runs every Sunday in the Life section. You may contact her at 981-1168 or (firstname.lastname@example.org)