January 27, 2000
What's Important and What's Not
With all of the different diets out there and all of the infomercials on TV selling exercise equipment, how do you decide where to begin? Start with knowing what's important in order to achieve good health and what's not.
Your diet and the total calories you consume each day are important to regulate. Don't let anyone overcomplicate a diet. It should be made up of good foods which are low in saturated fat and should not place an over reliance on carbohydrates.
How many calories are right for you?
That depends on your age, sex, health status and current level of fitness. But a common problem for many people is that they don't eat enough food. They have conditioned their bodies to survive in a state or semi-starvation. No one should eat less then 1200 calories per day.
Each meal should consist of a combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Yes, fat! While we want to avoid saturated fats because they have been associated with high cholesterol levels and some heart disease, the real problem with fat is that it is so nutrient dense. That means that very small portions of foods high in fat contain a high number of calories. But fat makes food taste good and we need fat to keep our bodies healthy. So, read those nutritional labels on the food you eat and be aware of how many calories you are eating at one time.
Exercise is important. The American College of Sports Medicine and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have published the "Exercise Lite" program as a baseline for everyone to aspire to. It states that every adult should accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.
Moderate intensity exercise can be defined as activity that you would rate between 3 and 6 as your level of perceived exertion on a scale from 1 to 10.
The goal is to work up to a point where you are expending 200 to 300 calories per session. If fat loss is your goal, this will allow you to lose two pounds of fat (not water weight like all of those fad diets cause you to lose) per month.
they don't work. The only way to get healthy is to learn good eating habits that you can stick to for life. Learning what's in food and keeping your eye on caloric intake is the best way to start getting healthy.
Supplements or diet pills. Some supplements (far from all that are sold) can give very serious fitness enthusiasts some measure of benefit. But, until you obtain a high level of fitness, they are a waste of time and money. Diet pills are at best ill-advised short cuts and at worst they can be fatal. You don't need them.
Exercise tapes and infomercial products are little more than slick advertising. If you want to spend money on something that will help you get into shape, go buy a good pair of walking shoes. Every athletic shoe manufacturer makes walking shoes. Buy a pair. Go for a walk each day. Get a friend to go with you and enjoy being out-side.
Lewis Kramer is the owner of Mobile Fitness. He is an American College of Sports Medicine certified Health/Fitness Instructor and a National Strength Conditioning Association Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. You can e-mail him at: mobile fitness@ earth link. net.