Small but consistent “Healthy Steps” make a difference!

Yesterday I heard Joe give his testimony about going from 320 pounds to 190 pounds in 7 months. Somehow being 320 pounds had not bothered him much until he got the diagnosis of diabetes and his eye sight had begun to significantly fail.  He described having a difficult time finding out what he should do to manage his disease and not feeling like his provider network was being very responsive to his needs. Deciding to be proactive and do some research on his own probably saved his life. He said the two most important things that he did to lose weight was engage in (1) portion control and (2) exercise, otherwise known as “the energy equation.” Dr. Jan Chozen Bays describes the “energy equation” in her book Mindful Eating: The Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food. Energy flows into the body by eating and drinking. Energy flows out of the body when we move around. It’s pretty simple really. Unfortunately, there has been a marked increase in the amount of food and drink that we consume (e.g. the “supersize me” mentality) and a marked decrease in the amount of movement we get into our days due to more sedentary lifestyles. To reverse the trend, try taking small but consistent healthy steps. For better portion control, research suggests you can reduce how much you eat by using smaller plates, serving bowls, and packages. According to the book Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink “the bigger the package you pour from—be it cereal boxes on the table or spaghetti in the kitchen–the more you will eat.” You might also benefit by putting everything you want to eat on a plate before you start eating. People that preplate their food eat less than when you take smaller amounts and go back for seconds or thirds. At least give your body time to register the food you’ve already eaten (estimated at 20 minutes) before you decide you are still hungry and need more to eat. To get more movement into your day, try parking a few blocks away from your destination, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, taking a short walk right after work before you engage with family for the evening, walking across the shopping center parking lot instead of parking up close, and taking a 5 minute break mid-morning and mid-afternoon to walk around your office building. Invest in some good walking shoes. You’re worth it. When Joe first started to try to walk at 320 pounds he said it was pretty challenging to get through the first 5 minutes. Today he can walk three hours without any problem. Joe was a speaker at the St. Louis Business Health Coalition program called “Healthy Steps: Strategies to Improve Diabetes Health and Lower Costs.” He has been an inspiration to numerous people who have seen his weight plummet in the last seven months. With the sky-rocketing rates of pre-diabetes and diabetes in this country, don’t wait until you are part of the statistics to take some “healthy steps” today. And don’t leave your children out of the changes you make. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third of all U.S. children born in the year 2000 are at risk for being diagnosed with diabetes in their lifetimes and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force 2010 suggests that children age 6 and older should be screened and treated for obesity. While these are shocking numbers, there is plenty to be hopeful about. Just think about Joe and take a little walk. Better yet, take a walk, put a smile on your face (even a little grin will do), and notice how good it can feel to move your body.