By Jim “Pappy” Moore
When people fret about real or perceived threats to their health, I have a saying: “The person most likely to kill you is YOU.” For some the biggest threat is alcohol. For some the biggest threat is prescription drugs. For some it is eating far too much and eating badly. For some it is smoking cigarettes. For some it is getting mad about every little thing. It isn’t being shot by some criminal committing a robbery. It isn’t getting killed in a car accident. It isn’t having an ACME safe land on your head.
Sometimes it is the result of some exposure you had decades ago to Agent Orange or some other toxin. Sometimes it is the result of some heart problem or lung problem you did not create by your lifestyle choices.
Twenty years ago I decided to stop smoking, so I did after thirty-five years of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Because I always associated smoking with drinking alcohol, I decided my prospects were better for success if I also stopped drinking alcohol. Quitting booze and tobacco probably saved my life, probably accounted for my watching the personal odometer roll over to 74 years.
Like many who quit drinking or smoking, I replaced those habits with eating more. Snacking. Grazing. Munching on crackers, chips, sweets. I gained weight, which weight I kept on for some time. I would peak at 270 pounds in 2011. Today I weigh 189 pounds. That’s 20 pounds more than I weighed when I graduated high school 56 years ago. I’d like to drop another 10 pounds and get down to 179. I WILL get down to 179.
There is no secret plan. It comes down to eating less frequently, eating fewer calories, and training myself to eat smaller portions of everything. Stopping when you are satisfied is critical, and not eating again to feed your mouth’s desire for some taste is the key.
Stand in front of your mirror and take a good look at yourself. What do you not like? What do you want to change? Decide how much you want to lose and what timetable you’re willing to use to get there. It’s not magic. Weight comes off at about 3500 calories per pound. If you want to lose 40 pounds, that’s 40 x 3500 = 140,000 fewer calories consumed over a given period of time. If you are committed and reduce your calories by 500 a day, you can lose that 40 pounds in under a year.
You do not have to starve yourself. You do not have to quit sugar, or quit your favored method of eating sweets. You do have to regulate your intake of such foods, however.
Many make a mistake of trying to do too much too fast. They dive into some plan that is unrealistic. Don’t start eating only salads. Don’t deny yourself some items you truly love. Use your common sense. Don’t eat a piece of cake. Eat a half piece or a third. Don’t eat a pint of ice cream at a sitting. Eat a cup, or less. If you try to deny yourself too much, you will fail. You’ll go from extreme dieting to extreme gluttony, again.
The best thing most of us can do for ourselves, for our bodies, is lose weight. You’re taxing your heart, your arterial system, your stomach, your digestive tract, and your joints. If you really, really want to give yourself the best chance of not only living longer, but living better, lose your excess weight. No excuses.
The life you save will be your own.
Copyright 2023, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.