This month was supposed to be a completely different subject in this column. But, as I often do, I looked through the questions coming my way, comments by shops, the most immediate need for all of the readers and more. So, I bailed on the original and am going to tackle a very tricky, often unpleasant and personal issue. Weight and exercise are on the docket this month.

But wait, before you turn away, if you read this article and leave with just one tip that becomes part of your regular life, you will most likely improve your quality of life, live longer and be happier. Oh, and fit business owners make more money too, just in case your own goals aren’t as important.

Here comes a really hard part of the article for me. I must share my own story with you. It’s the only way of establishing that I have studied this subject extensively and have taken my own medicine. Here are the facts for me:

• Weight before my program was 360 pounds. Oh yeah, I was one BIG boy. My blood pressure was medicated to get it down to something near normal and my heart rate was high 70s, low 80s.

• After the program and 2.5 years of focusing on this, my weight was and is now at 9 years 155 to 160 depending on fluids, blood pressure with no meds today was 98/60, and my heart rate today was 48 resting. I’m 6 feet tall.

As they say, that’s my street cred.

It all started for me in 2007 when I was diagnosed with a very rare immune system disease. At the time the doc told me that this disease never comes alone, and to watch for more. But, in the meantime, start getting into shape, pronto. Then in 2009 my liver failed to a point that 95% was useless, today about 96%. A specialist told me to get in shape and get ready for a transplant, or I would join the many who died long before they were transplanted. Like maybe two years or less.

Speed forward to today. My immune system has pretty well wiped out most systems in my body besides my liver. Kidneys are in tough shape. Lots of other stuff. Bottom line is that I am now on the national transplant list just kind of waiting my turn. They tell me there is nothing imminent and just to keep my phone with me. The math is such that there are not enough kidneys and livers to go around, so PLEASE consider becoming a donor. You may help someone very near to you some day.

There were a number of us who started this journey in 2009 who shared my issues. We were linked by the clinic. Eight in total. Seven have died. So, what’s the big difference? The doctor tells me it is due to my having complied, and most important, dedicating myself to a new way of eating, seeing food and daily exercise of some type depending on what my body allows me to do, weather, state of my confusion and other related issues, fatigue and other factors. I know it was God first, but no sense making the docs feel bad. But in nine years I have never missed a day of exercise, no matter how limp.

So, enough of that. I will admit I am embarrassed to say it took getting sick to square my situation. I plead with all of the tens of thousands who read this publication to consider what follows before you’re told you have some weird disease that will prove to be your undoing. I will guarantee it’s a lot easier now. And, while you’re at it, get your family and employees involved. Always easier together.

DO NOT START ANY DIET OR EXERCISE PROGRAM WITHOUT THE APPROVAL AND SUPERVISION OF YOUR DOCTOR! JUST DON’T!

A safe weight loss that sticks is 2 to 2.5 pounds a week. More just isn’t healthy, you’ll lose the wrong weight, and the results will most likely not last.

Here are the facts from a variety of sources about obesity and lack of exercise today:

• Over a third of all folks are obese, an almost equal number overweight. That’s 70% of us at least overweight. Amazing. Body-mass Index is the score typically used. 25-29.9 is overweight, obese is anything 30 and greater. Today I’m around 21.5 (normal) but started from 49! It’s important to have a starting point, so if you like the BMI system, see https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm.

• Obesity is directly linked to over 60 chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, stroke, cancer and more. In fact, of all people treated for high blood pressure, 75% are due to weight.

• This all costs us $147 billion a year in care. An individual’s annual medical expenses if they are overweight are $1,429 a year higher.

• Just a daily 20-minute brisk walk will make you more alert, help lose weight (no congratulatory beverages or peanuts when you get back home), reduces sick days, helps bone density, gains muscle strength and so much more.

“I tried every diet in the book. I tried some that weren’t in the book. I tried eating the book. It tasted better than most of the diets.” – Dolly Parton

So, with all of that out of the way, let’s deal with the basics before I run out of pages! We’ll stay in a quick read, bullet point summary mode:

• You must take in fewer calories than you burn to lose weight. Lower your calories by 3,000 in a week, and with the same amount of current exercise, you’ll lose a pound. Takes burning more than you take in. Stinks, but “them’s the facts ma’am!”

• Americans routinely underestimate their calorie intake and overestimate calories burned exercising. That was me! Anyway, I could easily have days where I was piling away 4,000-plus calories. I was certain a 30-minute walk was just melting away the pounds. In fact, at 3 mph that was 356 calories when I started, but is a measly 165 calories at my current weight, age and height. As you lose weight it takes less energy to move you around, so you need to adjust either calories or exercise. There a number of sites on the internet for calculating calories burned. I use and like https://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/cbc/. There are also phone apps. Same is true to calculating calories. My way to calculate calories (and I had to track sodium as well) was to use spiral notebooks. I have nine years of everything that ever went in my mouth day by day. What can I say? Just get a system to track calories in and calories out ASAP. You can look around on your phone during your next walk!

• Measure your food. This is critical to your success. A lot are surprised to find out a serving of protein such as beef, chicken, pork, etc. is 3 ounces. For a steak, that’s about 175 to 200 calories, burgers 220 calories, and is roughly the size of a deck of cards. I keep a scale nearby while I cook and eat. The internet offers a lot of sites to gather nutrition information. Some are in PDF form, those I keep in a three-ring binder. I also like to use nutritiondata.self.com/ which offers information about anything you’re likely to eat. To set your upper limit, consult with your doctor or a referred nutritionist/dietician who has access to your medical records. I used my own system in conjunction with the nutritionists. I had so much to lose that I could still eat a pretty large amount of food at first and still lose weight. But as the weight came off, the upper limit was adjusted downward. Even if it takes a few copay or HSA bucks, time spent with a good nutritionist/dietician is time and money well spent.

• Fad diets and pills work by either trying to rev up your metabolism or fill you up faster. But fad diets tend to be based on someone’s idea of what to take out of your foods eaten and load up on one thing or another. In my opinion, and that of every nutritionist and doc I know, that doesn’t work. Oh, maybe for a bit, but not long term. It never pays to deprive your body of a rich variety of foods, in moderation. And for pills – my opinion again – they can be downright dangerous. At least one I know of was pulled from the market and the maker sued for side effects.

How to Determine Fact from Fad (Source: University of Pittsburgh Medical College)

To determine if a diet is a fad diet, ask yourself these questions:

• Does the diet promise quick weight loss?
• Does the diet sound too good to be true?
• Does the diet help sell a company’s product?
• Does the diet lack valid scientific research to support its claims?
• Does the diet give lists of “good” and “bad” foods?

Potential Problems with Fad Diets (Source: University of Pittsburgh Medical College)

Poor long-term weight control

Most fad diets promote a “quick fix” and don’t teach healthy eating plans. They tend to be restrictive, boring, and difficult to follow over the long term. Once the weight is lost, a dieter often returns to old eating patterns and habits, causing him or her to regain weight.

That increases risk of chronic disease, like heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.

Many fad diets restrict or eliminate fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and whole grains. These foods are loaded with nutrients that are thought to help prevent many chronic conditions. In addition, diets that are too high in protein may cause an increase in calcium loss, leading to osteoporosis.

Reduced athletic performance

Diets that significantly restrict carbohydrates increase symptoms of fatigue and decrease body energy supplies and endurance. In addition, low carbohydrate diets cause a loss of fluid and electrolytes. Your body needs carbohydrates for energy. Carbohydrate stores are tied to fluid in your body. When you don’t eat enough carbohydrates, your body pulls from your stores, also pulling fluid and electrolytes in the process. Your body then gets rid of fluids and electrolytes. This can cause low blood pressure and decreased performance.

Kidney stones and gout

Diets that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates often lead to the formation of uric acid and calcium oxalate, causing kidney stone formation and gout.

Ketosis


A diet that is low in carbohydrates puts your body into ketosis, a condition that is unnatural.

• The so-called “healthy” restaurants – ask your chosen restaurant for a nutrition sheet. You will be amazed at the number of calories, high amounts of sodium, fat and sugar. As it was explained to me, the things that make rich foods and others taste amazing are sodium, fat and sugar. The great news is that there are plenty of ways to “hack” the recipes to make them equally tasty and satisfying and healthy. It’s also important to know that really good restaurants will gladly help you put together a much healthier meal, especially if you call ahead. And ask them not to season the food in cooking.

• Watch for calories in strange places. That salad you eat, except for the brined chicken breast, which is much higher in sodium, looks great. Then you add hundreds of calories and piles of sodium when you pour the dressing on. Greek salad dressing at one “healthy” restaurant, for just 2 tablespoons, has 150 calories, 240 mg of sodium and 17 grams of fat. The average adult takes in about 3,000 to 4,000 mg of sodium a day, but should limit themselves to 2,300. Won’t take much of this dressing to upset that program! Ask for dressing on the side and just dip your fork in each time you take a bite.

I’ll leave you with this. Go see a registered dietician or nutritionist, see your doctor, make a plan you can live with and some moderate exercise and you’ll be amazed at the results! Please send Editor Jim Wilder (editor@undercardigest.com) any questions you might have and I promise to get back ASAP.