Maintaining a consistently healthy lifestyle. Can it be done?

I was sitting in the local drug store today, waiting to pick up a prescription refill.  You know how it is when you are killing time at a drug store…   You walk the isles, you browse the merchandise, you read the covers of magazines and books, and you play with the blood pressure machine.  I keep hoping my local drug store will get one of those Dr. Scholl’s machines.  You know the one in the commercial that is supposed to diagnosis you for a gel insert for your shoes?  According to this video, they exist somewhere…



As I was browsing the magazine rack and noticed the current issue of Men’s Health.  It featured the talented actor Zac Efron on the cover and an article talking about his new movie “The Lucky One”.



The article discusses that he had to add about 20 pounds of muscle to his frame to play the role of a believable Marine.  Interesting article and you can find the full story here.

So this brings me to my topic for this week: Is there a fool-proof plan to be consistently healthy?

When do we slip into unhealthy habits?

As a child, I really cannot remember society being as focused on health as we are now.  We had fat kids, skinny kids, and kids that played with socks.  Smart kids, silly kids and most of us had chicken pox. We love Hotdogs…   and other fattening items.



We got to go out and play during school.  I have learned that school lunches, at least through middle school, (Jr High for those from places other than the south-east) were actually designed for nutrition.  High School, we got to pick from several different choices and unfortunately, those could be bad.  Pizza was a regular item that we consumed, but every once in a while, salad was a nice substitute.

In college, you ate what you could, when you could afford it.  Ramen noodles were the college freshman’s food of choice.  At four for a dollar, you could not go wrong.  As we progressed into our first college jobs, we traded noodles for more expensive food, though I would say that beer is not as nutritious as we made ourselves believe.

You may have heard of the term “Freshman 15”, which Researchers say is actually an urban myth.

So what are the real numbers?  The average weight gain for people once they turn 18 is between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds.  This is a national average for everyone, not just college students.  Fox News posted an article that talked about some of the causes of obesity in Americans.  A good read if you are interested, but I feel that we are getting off the topic at hand.


So what is the answer?

Is there a realistic way for people to stay consistently health?  I believe that answer to be…   No, because there really is not a fool-proof plan to stay consistently health.

Staying in good health requires education, self-discipline, motivation and above all – good habits.  If you are like me, any one of these requirements is one requirement to many.  So what are we to do?  I called in some help in the form of a personal trainer.  Unfortunately, he can only help me when I am in the gym.   The rest of the time I am on my own and that is where the distractions begin.  I can do well for a while, but things can change just as quickly back to the bad habits.  It’s a serious struggle for me to stay consistent and I realize that I am not alone.

The American Heart Association shared a few facts about America’s growing obesity rate:

Expanding waistlines are due to both overeating and junk-food consumption, as well as lack of exercise.  (Thank you Mr. Obvious)

Being “inactive” is defined as fewer than 30 minutes a day of physical exercise. (Doctors recommend for us to get about 30 minutes of activity in each day)

Moderate physical activity is defined as an activity that burns about 150 calories of energy per day.  (Hey, dance is a moderate activity)

So these are things we know or have at least heard from various sources.  So if could choose just one of the items above to start the journey to a healthier you, which might be the easiest?  I would think that physical activity would be the best option.

What does that activity have to be?  Here are some examples straight from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

—Washing and waxing a car: 45-60 minutes

—Playing volleyball: 45 minutes

Gardening: 30-45 minutes

—Walking 1.75 miles: 35 minutes

Dancing fast (social): 30 minutes

—Running 1.5 miles: 15 minutes

—Shoveling snow: 15 minutes

What are the consequences of inactivity?

Metabolic syndrome is one of the greatest risks to Americans.  It is characterized by a group of five factors, including abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high blood fatty acids and low levels of HDL (considered the “good cholesterol”).  This syndrome has been proven to increase a person’s risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

A scary fact: More than 50 million Americans have metabolic syndrome, according to the American Heart Association.

Another viewpoint

I think that many Americans think that we have to get out there and run 5 miles a day to be healthy, but our list above proves that this is not the case.  This brings me back to the Men’s Health article with Zach Efron.  Efron’s trainer, Logan Hood of Epoch Training, used four principles in transforming the young actor’s physique for the movie.  The four principles are:

Control the variables
Building a Marine-caliber body calls for a comprehensive approach. “Training is only one piece of the puzzle,” Hood says. “Sleep is huge. Stress is huge. Fuel you’re putting in your body is an enormous component. But nobody brags about having followed a regimented diet for 4 months.” You have to decide what’s more important: eating that entire pizza or having the body you want.

Opt for quality over quantity
Efron worked out 5 days a week, about an hour each time. “That’s another misconception,” Hood says. “If you’re eating appropriately and getting enough rest, you don’t need to train all day. All the work’s happening when you’re outside of the gym.”

(This was a powerful reminder to me that eating properly is a big step to maintaining a healthy life)

Go old-school
You don’t need fancy equipment. Hood put Efron through a regimen of “typical old powerlifting stuff”: squats, dead-lifts, heavy overhead presses, weighted pull-ups—simple exercises that over time allow for heavier and heavier weights.

Stick with the plan
Efron didn’t bulk up overnight. Nobody can: “it is months and months of process and diet,” Hood says. “What people see on the screen is a guy who basically immersed himself into a training process over a period of time. It’s more than just doing exercise and taking more protein.”

So these are four strong principles that we can follow.  I found myself reminded of some of the lessons that I have a tendency to forget:  We have to follow a plan, we have to establish a measure of self-discipline and we have to be patient.

So what are your thoughts on how to become consistently healthy?  Share them in the comment section below.

Remember to keep dancing!



One Comment on “Maintaining a consistently healthy lifestyle. Can it be done?

  1. I literally “laughed out loud” at the “thank you Mr Obvious” comment! I find it sad that healthy food such as produce is so expensive – and it is so easy to turn to unhealthy foods because of cost.

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