Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
By this time in a new year, most of us have lost the battle to maintain our resolutions to eat better and exercise more. Don’t ask me how I know this to be the case.
Several newspaper articles I’ve read lately have spurred me on not to easily let go of my resolves. They might encourage you as well.
The first study I read about indicated that Americans start each new year with good intentions to eat healthier, but those intentions actually cause us to make worse choices than if we maintained our bad holiday overeating activities. Apparently, during our first forays to the grocery store in the new year, we buy not only healthy food but also the bad food we got used to eating during the holidays.
The article stated, “Americans buy roughly twice as many calories per serving in food in the first three months of the new year than during the holidays….And that’s saying something, because the holidays are already quite the gluttonous stretch.”
We buy about 440 extra calories per serving during the holidays, but with the new year, we buy an additional 450 calories per serving, bringing the total to 890 calories per serving above what we eat the rest of the year. Apparently we do buy those green beans as a move to eat healthier, but then we also stock up on those frozen french fries we love so much.
The study showed that we become used to buying more during the holidays–which extend from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day–and that is a long enough time period for us to develop a different concept of what’s a normal amount to eat.
- Being aware of our contrary response to our resolution to eat better is the first step in moving toward healthier eating.
- Carefully planning our menus can make a difference as well.
- Understanding that we’re likely to fall off the healthy-eating wagon the first time we buy groceries in the new year should help us not to give up so easily after our initial missteps. We can climb back up on the wagon!
- Even if we do succumb to overeating, if we can reduce our calorie intake in less then three months, we’ll be ahead of where we would be if we simply succumbed to our post-holiday habits.
The latest studies also deliver more news about our sedentary behavior and how to counteract it. I wrote about the lethal side of sitting in this recent blog post.
Here’s the latest on that front.
Men and women across the spectrum of body mass index and belt size are less likely to die from any cause over a 12-year period provided they burn about 100 calories per day in physical activity. In other words, sitting trumps being fat in killing us off. As a matter of fact, inactivity makes a person twice as likely to die as having a high body mass index.
Here’s the good news in that study: To move a person from the ranks of inactive to active, and therefore to statistically make a significant difference in a person’s chances of longevity, an individual need only take a brisk 20-minute walk or a short bicycle ride daily.
Studies continue to show that sitting for long periods of time has a significant negative impact on your health. That translates to shortening our lives, making us more vulnerable to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and a variety of cancers. Just in case you were wondering, most of us Americans fit in the sedentary category, with researchers estimating each of us sits for more than half of our waking lives.
Punctuating a day of sitting with a vigorous workout isn’t the best answer. Individuals who make this lifestyle choice are 16 percent more likely to die of any cause than were those who don’t sit for long periods of time. Exercising vigorously is better than just sitting, but those who take regular, short breaks from sitting show the most positive results.
From previous studies I’ve read about, the issue isn’t just how much exercise we get in a day or a week but how frequently we get the blood flowing in our bodies. Sitting hampers blood circulation, and that’s a significant part of why it’s a deadly lifestyle.
Dr. David Alter, a senior scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, offered these tips on limiting our sitting and its negative impact:
- Get up every half-hour or so and move around for one to three minutes. (For me, this sounds pretty disruptive, with only short bursts of work before interrupting my work flow.)
- While watching TV, stand or exercise during commercials. (That could result in a lot of exercising for some programs!)
- Monitor how much you sit and try to reduce being sedentary by increments every week. Aim for two to three fewer sedentary hours in a twelve-hour day.
I put myself on a less-sedentary regimen a couple of years ago, but I’m still figuring out what’s realistic for me. So far I’ve added regular daily workouts that last from 30 to 60 minutes. I try to walk or stand during phone calls (but when I have to be at my computer or take notes for a call, I can’t). A timer is on my desk, set for 60 minutes. When it sounds off, I get up and walk around for a few minutes.
I plan, as a result of what I’ve read recently, to monitor my grocery cart more closely and to deliberately take stand-up-and-move TV breaks and to see if I can sit for 30 minutes and then stand up, or if that schedule is too disruptive.
What changes in your grocery shopping and/or sitting habits do you want to make in 2015?
New studies find sitting is more deadly than being overweight. Click to tweet.
How can you combat the effects of a sedentary, overeating lifestyle? Click to tweet.
Photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Africa