How To: Live Long and Prosper

Nowadays, big companies put out advertisements targeting all women that have one thing in common; they need a quick, simple solution to that extra weight they need to "lose fast". Sadly, it doesn't occur to many that these diets are offered for a reason. The reason is for the company to earn money by selling their tips, advice, or even meals. That is the only thing they gain from people participating. These diets are not about success rate or the good of the human race; they're about profit. The worst part is, that while these diets hook many in because they may work for the short-term, their effects will only be temporary.

This is not to say that it's anyone's fault for not permanently losing weight. The whole purpose of a diet is to lose weight given a certain amount of time, trying a whole new regimen of a bunch of wacky foods that a person normally wouldn't try. This includes a wide range of different combination of foods that sounds outrageous and is usually limited to one food group like the "All-Carbs Diet". Now, no one knows why exactly these continue to be promoted as "life-savers" but it is known that long-term, they are not exactly healthy for the brain or the body. Which is why no one can afford for their own health to stick to them for the long-term. So after losing all that weight and suffering for all those weeks, within a few days of going back to the old normal routine, a person could regain everything they lost after all that hard work and be stuck at a worse, more depressing place than they were to begin with.

One might say, "Well I tried to lose the weight and I attempted all the diets and none of them worked so what will?" And it's true with those results, no one can exactly be encouraged. Another secret, someone who has lost weight to become a healthy weight compared to someone else who was already been at that weight has to eat at least half the portions to maintain that weight. Another fact, someone with obese parents is around three times more likely to be obese. That cannot be helped either, this could simply be due to household eating habits.

Anyways, bottom line; diets are not designed to produce lasting results. There's no quick, easy way to getting and staying at your ideal body-size or image. It's a lifestyle that has to become your day-by-day routine and it has to start now at a younger age. It's not a temporary set of eating habits or a quick dose of exercise either. I can't pretend to say I'm so fit and healthy that I go to the gym every day, I haven't gone at all. And truth be told, I'm not the fittest specimen but these facts really changed the way I looked at things and I was glad for not being ignorant anymore. Frankly, it made me want to take action. I'm aware of the state our country is in and it's not a healthy one.

At school it has become easier and easier to eat unhealthy with such mouth-watering choices as pizza, burgers, hotdogs, and mac & cheese readily at our disposal. What's a kid to do without the watchful eye of the parent? Greasy, fat-filled food is cheaper than all natural, healthy options, which makes it easier to purchase and eat without a guilt-filled conscience. Chips, soda, candy, and all sorts of tasty treats like ice-cream, brownies, and baseball-sized cookies are available at any cafeteria and people down them every day, every lunch, and sometimes even more than that. What we fail to realize is that if we do not start changing those eating habits now, they'll stick with us for life and we will possess even more health problems than we already have now.

Obesity causes high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, stroke, heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes, along with a long list of other problems that lead from these. Indirectly, obesity also leads to all sorts of aches and pains in the legs from walking or running. Other limbs could also suffer from daily use when they would not normally cause people without the extra weight pain. No one has ever benefited from being overweight. Obesity has been known to cause depression, extra stress, and the unwillingness to participate in activities normally tried if not for the extra weight. It all just sucks because simple steps that can be followed every day could avoid all this.

Steps for Success

Cut back in portions AND count calories. This is a very simple step that everyone should undertake. It's not merely about what you eat, it's also about how much. It has actually been proven that cutting back meal sizes and counting calories is a more effective way of losing weight than exercising although exercise is needed to keep the weight loss. A combination of the two can lead to a healthy, longer-lived lifestyle. You can do this by keeping a little notebook with you and writing down everything you eat with the calories next to it, looking on the Nutrition Label for the amount of calories per a serving. Try to aim for no more than 1800 calories a day for starters. Going out to eat or eating fast food can really mess this routine up. Drink six to eight glasses a day to trick your stomach into thinking you're full or take your time while eating. It takes twenty minutes for your stomach to fully comprehend what you've eaten. Studies have shown that the bigger portions placed in front of you, the more you'll be willing to eat. It's also nearly impossible or a huge hassle to obtain the calorie count. Mindless snacking also hinders the effectiveness of this method.

Choose the right food to eat. This is more difficult. We are surrounded with so many ads and commercials for sugar or artificially flavored food that looks so yummy and delicious and tastes just as good. But stop and think about who's funding the fruit and vegetable commercials and you realize, it's next to nobody. Maybe that's why there really are none. Big companies and corporations that can afford to spend money on advertisements that hook in their customers at an early age practically control the majority of ads. In fact, about 3% of farmland in the U.S. is used for veggies and fruits. Perhaps that is one of the reasons the produce costs so much. There are limited producers.

In reality, the majority of a person's diet should be made up of fruits and vegetables. They provide all the nutrients; leave out all the added chemicals, artificial ingredients, and preservatives while adding a whole list of benefits towards the well being of your body and health. Dairy and grains should be limited while protein in the form of meat should be next to non-existent. On the other hand, sugar and oil should be cut out entirely. This especially includes sugared-drinks, one of the leading causes of obesity. These have no health benefits and are considered "empty" calories. Find creative ways to add fruit and vegetables in your diet or to your meals. Fruit is easier because it's naturally full of sugar but vegetables can be tasty too. Salads are always a wholesome option but then there's the issue of fatty dressing or an excess of cheese or croutons to add flavor. There are delicious recipes that bake, broil, boil, or grill vegetables with herbs and garlic. These can actually be very simple and tasty. By doing this it's easier to avoid fried foods which take away most of the assets of any food's nutritional value.

Choose the right places to buy these foods. Often, organic food markets such as Whole Foods can be expensive, and way out of price range, so instead look for organic produce at your local grocery store. If they are not available, rinse the fruit and veggies very well. Local farmer's markets also sell produce that is cheaper because of the cut in transportation costs and the lack of a middleman distributor. These are also usually organically grown as well. Other food of organic nature can also be considered healthier for you than conventional because it leaves out much of the high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial colors, and ingredients that should generally not be in your body in the first place. Anything with ingredients that you don't recognize is a warning sign. Organic food is expensive however and sometimes the differences in quality can be minimal so there are only a few products that should be bought organic to avoid added hormones or other unnatural treatments. This especially includes milk, meat, and eggs.

Warning: Do not confuse "all-natural" with the organic label. The ingredients in an officially labeled organic food must have 70% or more of organic ingredients certified by the FDA. The label all-natural could be stuck onto anything.

Find more ways to make vegetables, fruits, healthy food, etc. more appealing. Ever since I started taking more time to research healthy meals that cut back on grease, oil, and calories I have put more time and effort into making healthier meals that fill me up and still taste good. Before my parents would just buy frozen dinners, which we would fill up on three dinners a week. These healthy options can be found on any recipe website. Another option for healthy eating is by juicing. There is this great, motivational documentary called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead about an Australian who spends 60 days in the U.S. consuming nothing but fresh fruits and vegetables that have been juiced every day. If you are as unfamiliar with this concept, as I was just a few months ago, look up the movie, it's still on Netflix if I'm not mistaken.

*Juicing requires a juicer as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Look up some recipes on the Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead website as well as tips for how to juice.

Last, and probably the most difficult: exercise. We Americans have this idea that if you super-exercise with all your might then you'll suddenly transform into a Bodybuilder with washboard abs. Or maybe that's just teenage girls? This is a misconception. While regular, vigorous physical activity can lead to these results, it is neither likely nor frequent. It takes a surprising amount of exercise just to burn a few calories, so it is essential to cut down food portions rather than attempt working it all off with intense, strenuous exercise. It is also essential to be physically active during the day. It's summer; of course you're going to want to spend time inside lazing around watching a movie or sitting on the computer and surfing the web. Those things are easier to do today than they've ever been. I get it. But there has to be less snacking and mindless munching of empty calories and more moving around. Avoid eating when you're bored. (We've all been there.) Even if moving around means just going outside and getting away from the kitchen. Wake up early and take morning walks with a sister or friend, or nightly walks when it's cooler. These are great times to converse, bond, and get your mind off things.

Exercise also relieves stress and increases energy so it's a great way to start the day. Get involved in a club of physical activity or just go to the park and run around. If you find it hard to run, I know I do, find an alternative like buying a yoga or Pilates DVD and doing that every night. Exercise is essential to a healthy lifestyle. It keeps the weight loss off, and builds muscle and endurance that lasts. It might be easier to do with a group or a partner because it keeps the two of you goal-oriented and motivated to keep it up.

There you have it, five ways to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. There are lots of others as you know but I tried to be basic. I'm certainly not an expert but I know what I'm saying. Don't believe me? Check out The Weight of the Nation series on HBO or visit the Weight of the Nation website for more facts and information.

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