End of Week 6 – You Want Fries With That?

Report: Weigh-in date Friday, June 29, 2012.  Weight 289.  Down 1.5.  Total loss at the end of six weeks 11 pounds.  I would have preferred two pounds, but I just keep telling myself “down is better than up.”  I get to change the “tens” digit in my weight and I cracked the first 10 pound loss, so I really can’t complain.

I was watching TV not long ago and I saw something that made me wonder who makes the decisions about scheduling commercials.  It was one of those cable channels that can’t show five minutes of a program without at least 10 minutes of ads.  I watched a commercial for ice cream, followed by a commercial for pizza, followed by a fast food commercial specifically touting huge portions.  After that came a couple of beer commercials and one for junky fried chicken.  Then the car commercials started and I could breathe again.

According to our ever-wise talking heads on the news, America has an obesity epidemic.  REALLY???  Color me SO surprised (imagine a shocked expression here).

How can we not?  We Baby Boomers are living witnesses to the societal changes that have brought about the epidemic.  Inflation has hit not only our pocketbooks, but our waistlines as well.  Growing up, many of us played actively outside whenever we could.  Of course, I was a reader, so that may explain why I remember being one the very few heavy children in my neighborhood.  However, I was the exception, not the rule.  We did not regularly eat out, and we never went to fast food places.  Compare that to today’s fast food, electronic games, internet and social networking.

America is a big country and we do things in a big way.  Our pizzas are extra-large.  Our burgers are triple deckers with bacon and cheese, and our drinks and fries are “super-sized.”  Our chicken is deep fried and comes in “buckets” with biscuits and potatoes as sides.  Submarine sandwiches are “foot longs” made with what look like whole loaves of bread.  Many restaurants feature “all-you-can-eat.”

And then all these things are advertised.  Have you ever noticed the people in food ads?  They are all slender.  Some are athletes.  Others are glamorous or sexy.  Still others sing and dance.  Even the ads that feature families show parents and kids without an extra ounce of fat.  No one in those ads ever gets fat from eating all that bread, potatoes, red meat, cheese and ice cream.

Face it; our generation grew up in a society of excess where the guiding principal was “if a little is good, more is better.”  So, what happened to our bodies was not our fault, right?  Hardly.  I can rail against fast food and mega-portions all I want, but in the end what I put in my mouth is my decision.  Over the years we have learned a lot about nutrition, portions and exercise, and the fast food industry has been taking notice.  So, while they are catching up with us we need to establish some rules of our own.

First, let’s change our mindset about eating out.  Children learn to get excited at the prospect of “going to McDonald’s” (registered trademark).  That is difficult to avoid, but as adults we need to start thinking of eating fast food as a chore, to be done only when absolutely necessary, and not as a treat.  I know, I know – calories are what Nature put in food to make it taste good.  If you think about how that food is prepared – the bubbling vats of hot oil, the grills with their grease – it may not seem so great.

Second, if you have to go to a fast food restaurant, know what they serve.  I am in the process of finding every salad offered in central Delaware.  While a fast food salad may not be as healthy as one you would make at home; it beats the heck out of a burger and fries.

Third, if you must eat fast food, do not agonize about it.  There are ways to compensate, even if there is no salad on the menu.  Get a sandwich and skip the fries.  Drink water or a diet soda.  Do the best you can, and then forget it.  One meal is not a disaster.  Stay on the elliptical an extra 5 or 10 minutes the next time you are at the gym.  Be good to yourself, you deserve it.

Until next week….

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