Saturday, September 1, 2012

Something Bothers Me, and It's Not My Running

"The world belongs to the energetic" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

You know, I love America, but a couple of things about it bother me. No, I'm not going to be so foolish as to go down the political highway...that is social suicide. But, actually, THAT is one of the things that make the USA great. I may think your ideas are way the heck off base, but it is ingrained in us that we have the right to say what we believe (no matter how off the wall they are!!).

What bothers me is this country, in a very short period of time, is getting dumber and fatter and the fact that the dumber and fatter majority seem to be making the decisions so that we never will climb out of this hole. We used to be the leaders of the world in science and math and education. We used to value fitness and activity. Now it seems like these values have circled the drain and I'm not sure we can get it back. This is supposedly a running blog, so I'm not sure how far I can dive into this education part of the sinkhole, but when kids are graduating from High School and can't read at a seventh grade level, doesn't that raise a red flag somewhere with people that can change it? Some kids are not even taught to write cursive anymore! Not a BIG thing, but a THING. They can text a million "words" a minute, but their phoneticized abbreviations spill over into their ability to communicate when needed properly - like a job application. And things are getting worse. Here in Birmingham (Alabama), our school board would be the funniest show since I LOVE LUCY and THE HONEYMOONERS if it wasn't so utterly sad. Where do we dig these folks up from? But, it's not just here in Alabama, though here, education seems to take a huge backseat in funding to sports, and if it wasn't for football, I think many folks wouldn't know why we have High School in the first place. They (there's that "they" again) say that sports drive the engine, but it seems to me that sports sustains it's own huge appetite while the other programs starve to death (English, Math, Science, etc). Poor us, and poor USA.

Ok, let's get to this "fatter" thing. It is amazing how obese this country has gotten. During my bi-monthly visits to see my family up in Boston, I fly twice through Logan and Charlotte International Airports. Just sitting there watching slices of America walk by, it reinforces to me that the United States has the highest rate of obesity in the whole wide world. The latest stats show that 35.7% of American adults are obese, as are 17% of American children.
Every day, as a Physical Therapist, I see it in the clinic. I work in orthopedics and so a large portion of my patients are total wrecks who have had to have total knees. The greater majority of these knees have just worn out from years and years of abuse - not the abuse of physical exercise as many non-exercisers would like you to believe will happen to runners - but the abuse of every WALKING STEP putting 1.5 times their body weight on their knees. So, for a 300 pound office worker, just the 500 steps he takes from his car to his office is 450 pounds of crunching stress on EACH knee with EACH step. So, eventually the cartilage between the two long bones that meet at the knee are flattened away and you have bone-on-bone. Ta-da: Total knee! And that's just one little segment of our health demise. I heard once that something like 85% of all non-accident hospital admissions are contributed to by a preventable cause (smoking, drinking, eating, etc).

I'm asked several times a day by well-meaning patients how to lose weight. Well, what they usually say "I can't lose weight", "I wish I could lose weight", or my favorite, " I can't find the time", to which I say 'Look harder!". My approach, though, is simple: calories in have to be less than calories out. But folks are resistant to this thinking. So, I add a few side doors to this thinking: DON'T give up the things you love. Crave ice cream? Fine, have some. Love chocolate?

Great, have a piece or two. The point is don't gorge on it. If you try to give up something you love, that'll last a few days and then you'll eat a whole half gallon of ice cream or a whole giant bag of chips. A fad diet will NEVER work over the long haul. It's doomed before it gets off the ground. If you want to lose weight, it doesn't have to be some crazy-off-the-wall restriction "here" and stuff yourself "there" type diet. But, it has to be a lifestyle change that will allow enough food to fuel you through the day's normal activities, PLUS any crazy extras you tag on...I choose running miles and miles!! But, that's excessive, and I know it, but c'mon people, take some responsibility.

For much of these folks, it starts as children sitting in front of the computer/TV. Sure, I can sound like my grandfather talking about the good ol' days when we used to play from morning till the sun went down. A whole day would pass without going home and Mom would say "What did you do today?". The response, "I don't know...messed around I guess". But messing around was constant moving, playing ball, tag, running from getting caught after doing something bad! We had "social networking" - it was called OUTSIDE!! We moved around outside, and we moved around in the sun. Our friends were real friends. Now, one of the prime vitamin deficiencies is vitamin D.

And, what is it with bacon? This country has gone bacon crazy!I don't often give nutritional advice on this site but I'm going to today. Don't eat the Baconator. That's it. Pretty simple huh? Now I know that you're probably thinking what could possibly be wrong with two hamburger patties, 2 cheese slices, cheese sauce, mayonnaise, and 6 (count 'em 6)slices of bacon? And the answer is nothing at all, providing you spread that out over 4 meals and 3 days, but I don't think that's quite what Wendy's had in mind. On the other hand, bacon sure is tasty so let's say you head in to Wendy's to "do what tastes right" and you order the Baconator. Why yes, I will make that a combo meal. No, I don't want to Biggie size the fries, I'm trying to control my portions! I'd better do a diet coke too. Here's the stats on your lunch: 1250 calories, 71g total fat, 175mg cholesterol, 88g carbs and well on your way to taking big chunks off your life. We won't even get into the sodium! Whew! Good thing you went with the DIET coke!

Boy wasn't that good? But your sweet tooth is kicking in and you could really use something chocolaty, something like the Brownie Earthquake from Dairy Queen. So you head over to DQ because you want to "DQ something different" and you figure you'll reward yourself for being so good by getting that diet drink with your lunch. Besides, you've already screwed today's calorie count straight to hell so why not? At 740 calories, 28g total fat, 60mg cholesterol and a whopping 149g carbs it can't hurt right? Right? In one meal you're now pushing 2000 calories and almost 100g total fat! You could drink bottled water for the rest of the week and you'd still gain weight. Do you realize that you would have to run for over 18 miles to burn off the calories from that one meal? (Based on an estimate of burning 110 calories/mile).

Is it any wonder that America continues to get fatter and fatter by the day? It's making me feel fat just to sit and write about this, on the upside I have plenty of motivation to go workout today. I realize I got a little off the tangent this week, but yesterday, I flew through Charlotte to Boston, so I got a new infusion of viewing my fellow Americans. I don't recommend going nuts with a wild-off-the-wall diet, but just a little restraint people. You don't have to become a vegetarian, though I just read Scott Jurek's book, Eat & Run", and I highly give it a thumb's up. Remember calories in/calories out. It's not quite that simple, but it's a good start.

Ok folks, time to take the grandkids to the park and do some messing around. Hope you all have a good weekend and I'll see you on the roads - AL

One child lost is too child saved can change the world

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