My 2007 resolution (become conscious of the environmental impact of my actions and, with that knowledge, reduce my ecological footprint) went very well. I consider it a great success.
This year’s resolution is a continuation of one of my 2006 resolutions: “become conscious of my own health and physical well-being.” I deliberately chose not to commit to improving my health or well-being, but simply to learn to be aware of it. With that knowledge, now I’m making that most clichéd of new year’s resolutions: to become more physically fit.
By all metrics, I’m in above-average condition, but that says a great deal more about our overweight nation than it does about me. I’m joining a gym. In consultation with a trainer and a nutritionist, I’ll set some specific goals for myself — resting heart rate, weight, various measurements, etc. — and develop some active health habits to get in shape and stay that way.
As my prior new year’s resolutions have colored what I’ve written about here, so too will this. Steel yourself for ruminations on fitness.
That’s a terrific goal, and I wish you the greatest success. Driving past the YMCA today, I noticed that the parking lot was packed. I wonder what it’ll be like a month from now.
As part of your plan, I encourage you to read up on high fructose corn syrup. After many, many hours of research, I fervently believe that HFCS is the single greatest cause of the American obesity problem. Cutting it out of a diet is tricky, but not impossible.
Good luck, and best wishes for healthy and prosperous 2008.
I’d avoid any gym for the next month. After that it’ll be safe until this time next year.
Get a bike, Waldo!
Good for you. Just remember to stick with it. The hardest thing to do is get past that first month. You really don’t want to do it and everyone and their kid sister is at the local gym. Wait a month and most of those newcomers will be gone.
My own? No soda or pizza. At all. I’ll see how long it’ll last. I’m just not willing to give up the beer.
Happy New Year Waldo! Considering how well you stuck with your 2007 resolution, I have no doubt that becoming more physically fit will not pose any significant challenge, at least as far as your work ethic is concerned.
That’s one of the things that I learned about last year (er…two years ago), in 2006. I’ve managed to, if not cut it out of my diet, significantly reduce my intake of it. To be fair, there’s very little solid evidence that HFCS causes obesity — Virginia Tech did some research on the topic a couple of years ago and found no causal link or, indeed, potentially causative mechanism. But, honestly, I don’t care. I take as an article of faith that it will ultimately be shown to be a significant cause of obesity and, even if it’s not, I don’t want to support the economic system that has resulted in vast quantities of this crap being foisted onto American consumers.
I should stop talking about this now, or else I’ll be writing for hours. :)
That’s a bit of a conundrum for me. It’s not like I’m going to give up on exercising for a month out of every year, so I may as well go. But I’m worried that if it’s crowded and unpleasant, I might not want to return. And then I worry that all of this is an excuse not to follow through with this resolution at all. :)
I’ve got one. A beautiful, Italian-made, 1995 Bianchi Premio. I’ve enjoyed many a mile on it. But I live on a dirt road and have a hugely steep gravel/dirt driveway, each of which are pretty major obstacles to riding a road bike. Helping nothing, once I get out on the blacktop, it’s Route 20N — a narrow, twisty road with a 55MPH speed limit that has oodles of dopey out of towners who look at it on a map and think it might be a good shortcut to Charlottesville from the Fredericksburg area. It’s just not safe to ride there. (Though apparently doable on a unicycle.)
So, no biking for me. And I have wicked bad shinsplints, an artifact of hiking the Appalachian Trail, and “running through the pain” just isn’t something that I’m apparently able to do. :)
The point is that I’ve got plenty of excuses for not doing the cheap and easy things, like biking or running, so I don’t do them. But if I go to the gym, then there I am — I’ve got to exercise. :)
That’s a great NYE resolution! It’s very specific, wholly attainable, and could make a real impact on your health. Bravo, STH.
I know the study you’re referring to, and it was very limited in scope. As I recall, they tested one particularly bad hypothesis as to why HFCS might cause obesity — the notion that it tastes sweeter, so people drink more soda & so forth. There was no evidence to support this.
In another fairly recent study (that I’d have to locate), researchers fed sweetened water to mice, and had striking results. Mice fed sugar-sweetened water had slight-to-moderate weight gain over mice fed plain water. Mice fed HFCS-sweetened water became morbidly obese.
Nobody yet can point to exactly what it does to our bodies, but the anecdotal evidence continues to point to HFCS being a very bad thing. So, like you, I take it primarily on faith that HFCS is spawn of Satan, and will one day be proven so.
When it comes to eating, common sense is a good thing. If your gut tells you it’s junk, it’s junk (though the reverse is less often true… food marketing is a sneaky business). If it’s something our great-grandparents ate (IOW, the list of ingredients doesn’t have any $10 words), then odds are pretty good that it’s not junk.
Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you mean by “junk,” but I wouldn’t say that it’s only the $10 words that are junk. Back in my great-grandparents’ days, many or even most jobs were physically demanding, and thus eating a 4000 calorie-per-day diet was actually necessary for some people. What this results in is that it’s hard for me to find a family recipe that doesn’t use both bacon and the grease that rendered out of it.
However, that’s not to say I disagree with you. You were praising common sense in dietary choices, and I think we can agree that reducing your bacon-fat intake if you want to be healthier is just common sense in this day and age.
If you live out a dirt road there have got to be about 101 activities that would do the job. Try sawing and splitting a cord of wood. Nothing like the threat of a whizzing razor-sharp chainsaw, or a 7 lb. axe to build the ol’ hand-eye coordination and strengthen the body. Smells better too.
Bubby’s advice is good, but some people have better success in a gym environment. This is truly one of those things where “to each his own” has meaning.
Ben – I’m defining “junk” as something with little or no nutritional value, or else simply never a good idea to put in your mouth. Twinkies are the extreme example, but that’s easy. Pop-tarts are pretty easy, too. The ones not as obvious are potato chips, regular Coke/Pepsi, most prepackaged frozen meals, most fast food, and so on.
I don’t think bacon qualifies as junk. There’s nothing inherently wrong with eating bacon (PETA arguments aside). Of course, it’s probably not a good idea to eat six slices every day. But then, too much of just about anything isn’t a good idea.
My great-grandparents baked their own bread, slaughtered their own pigs, grew their own vegetables, raised their own chickens — you get my drift. They didn’t eat Hot Pockets or dip their Papa John’s crust into garlic butter. The point is that in today’s food world, if your great-grandparent couldn’t have eaten it, then it’s worth at least considering whether or not it’s good food. Many things still pass the test… like Sunbutter and homemade hummus, neither of which my ancestors ate. But more often than not, I find myself avoiding things that weren’t available 100 (or even 50) years ago.
I read a few years ago that one simple strategy is to walk around the edges of your grocery store, and avoid the middle. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good start. Fresh produce, bakery, fresh meat/poultry/fish, eggs, dairy — they’re all on the edges. All the processed and canned junk is in the middle.
That’s pretty much how I shop. The problem? It always includes the wine & beer section . . .
IP: I understand, and I agree with your points. It just made me think of all the bacon/lard-heavy recipes from a past when “work” didn’t involve sitting on your butt for 9 hours a day.
Regarding shopping the grocery store edges: certain canned and frozen goods are excellent, and should not be passed up. Canned tomatoes allow me to buy tomatoes that are grown in US fields even during the winter, and they’re tomatoes that were actually once ripe, as opposed to the unripe but ethylene-greened tomatoes you’ll find in the produce section. Similarly, quick-frozen peas are likely to be fresher than produce-stand peas, since peas start converting their sugars to starches within hours of harvesting. Frozen-on-premises peas don’t get a chance to start that, whereas even when you can get fresh peas at the supermarket, they’re likely to have had a lot more time to turn their sugars into not-nearly-as-tasty starches.
(Sure, I own a pressure-canner and could can my own tomatoes that I pick up at the farmer’s market during the growing season, but that would actually be significantly more expensive and time consuming, and this is one place I’m willing to take the cheap and easy route on, at least until I have somewhere to have a garden.)
As for the beer and wine section, I find myself there a lot less since I’ve built up a nice reserve of homebrewed beer, and as an added bonus, it can be a heck of a lot cheaper to get quality beer by making it yourself.
I’ve recently become aware that 80% of cans in the grocery store contain Bisphenol A, which acts upon our bodies like estrogen. (It’s the stuff that Nalgene bottles are made of — the stuff that gets into infant formula that parents are rightly freaking out about now.) So, unless the manufacturer touts an eco-friendly, Bisphenol A-free can, I’d say stop buying canned goods, too.
Phthalates and Bisphenol A are both endocrine disruptors and they mess with many of the body’s hormone systems. Endocrine disruptors include a vast number of persistent modern polymers that bio-accumulate in fats and oils – making us top-feeders a vulnerable lot.
You’re absolutely right. But I don’t do those things. So, pathetically, I’m going to pay a grand a year to go to a special room where I will pick up heavy things and put them down again. Repeatedly.
Years ago, before I broke, I was visiting a buddy in Los Angeles. He had hooked an interesting job doing promotional photo’s of aspiring actors and actresses. His invites seemed timely when my pipes froze, and the wood stove refused to heat the house. The thought of hanging out with tanned aspiring actresses overcame my confusion about just what I had in common with such sophisticates.
Knowing that I had been living up the dark hollow like some frozen hillbilly pioneer, my bud decided to brighten my mood and throw a party upon my arrival. It turns out that the attendees were mostly models for Muscle & Curve magazine or something, and they were a decidedly attractive crowd. I was dazzled.
Apparently Virginia was an exotic locale for these folks because I soon found myself lead about the party by a couple of gals who would introduce me just to be entertained by my “Hi Y’all”. I was their pet hillbilly. But it didn’t offend because I was meeting more women than I had seen in a month on the farm.
Eventually one woman was overcome by my animal magnetism, or perhaps the Chardonnay. No matter. She came up so close, a combination of lean muscle and buffed beauty. I’ve seen prettier in Virginia, but this one was on the hunt, and she was looking me over like I was at the livestock auction.
After an uncomfortable pause, she broke the tension by complimenting my physique. I became more uncomfortable and muttered a stunned, “uh, thanks”. She was on a drive however, and asked, “what club do you work out at?”, running her hand up my arm. I was panicked. The only “club” in my world was the University gym where I would steal a shower on a cold day. “Club Woodcutter”, I said with a voice that sounded like it came from outside my head. “Really”, she offered. “I’ve never heard of that, is it in Belair?”.
I’ve never found lying to be profitable, and I was thinking that profit was in my immediate future. “No, I cut and split 4 cords of firewood to heat my home”, I said, half-expecting the conversation to end, and her to wander off to find smoother quarry. Instead, she expressed wonderment that anyone still did such a thing. We spent the rest of the evening together – me being introduced to her beautiful model friends as Bubby the Woodcutter. I was like some curiosity, plucked from the museum of early muscle-builders.
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