Currently, approximately 70 percent of Americans are overweight and 36 percent are obese. These numbers have risen at an alarming rate over the past three decades and they continue to worsen. According to statistics from national and international health organizations, Americans are among the fattest people on earth! Three major factors lie at the heart of this dire situation: we eat too much, we eat an excessive amount of overly processed and nutritionally devoid foods, and our activity levels are too low. In light of the overabundance of information available on health, fitness and weight loss, why throw yet another book into the mix? The reason is simple and basic…literally! We have learned, through counseling people in the areas of health, weight loss and, nutrition, that there is a real need for good, basic education in these areas. On the other end of the spectrum are people who do have a good understanding of the basics and beyond, but who have abandoned some of the very cornerstones of health while trying to manage their hectic schedules. For instance, essential to our well being are things such as drinking enough water, getting proper amounts of nutrients in the right ratios, getting sufficient sleep and, equally important, physical activity. In our fast-paced, hectic world, it is so easy to overlook these simple truths because there are too many other things we need to accomplish that are seemingly much more important. In the short run, that may very well be true: a project deadline for work or a weekend devoted to the kids may take precedence over everything else. There will always be glitches in our schedules that require us to reprioritize and temporarily sacrifice our personal needs to get something else done…but it cannot be overstated that we cannot afford to do this in the long run…our bodies, minds and spirits will withstand neglect and abuse only so long before they begin to rebel and eventually, break down. The good news is, however, that with a little knowledge and determination we can take charge of our health! And it doesn’t require that we “morph” ourselves into someone that we are not! You don’t need to be a Size 5 or have a six-pack of abs to be super fit and healthy if those things are not in your genetic makeup. For instance, through modest amounts of exercise, you can improve your muscular strength, tone, endurance, flexibility, and coordination. But did you also know that you can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as decreasing the risk of serious health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis? Moreover, regular exercise will increase your resting metabolic rate, or the rate at which you burn calories at rest…and this is truly just a sampling of benefits.
As you have just seen, there are many added benefits to exercising other than just looking good! This holds for eating a healthy diet, as well. Whoever it was that said “you are what you eat” was correct! A steady diet of foods such as coffee, diet coke, bagels, and Big Macs gives your body, at best, a “D” grade fuel for carrying out the highly complex tasks that it must perform every single day. But the job it performs can only be as good as the raw materials you feed it. In other words, a sleek, shiny Lexus was never produced using rusty parts from the junk heap! This all boils down to one simple truth: the quality and quantity of the food you consume will largely dictate the state of your health. It cannot be disputed that the “SAD” state of the Standard American Diet is, in large part, responsible for the sharp rise in chronic disease in this country. Our section on nutrition discusses foods that pack a powerful nutritional punch and contain high levels of disease-fighting antioxidants. By incorporating these foods into your regular diet, you will begin to raise your levels of energy and vitality, and in combination with some exercise and other techniques to nourish your mind and spirit, you will be well on your way to a much higher level of health, fitness, and quality of life!
To receive the ultimate benefit from this booklet, we suggest first reading it through completely to gain an understanding of its contents. Then you will be ready to begin incorporating the principals into your everyday life. Those who have some experience with exercise and nutrition may find that this booklet propels them to a higher level of knowledge and understanding in these areas. Those with advanced knowledge in these areas will enjoy the condensed format of a vast body of information that is presented within. Whatever your level is, we are confident you will find useful information within these pages. You may want to make copies of the goal, fitness testing, and food log forms provided to help you get started.
Remember the journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step. The next update will be; Starting an Exercise and Nutrition Program: Important things to remember.