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
Well, y’all may not want to emulate me, but with serious illness and the deleterious effects thereof, my resting heart rate is still under 60, and BP consistently under 115/75. pretty much what it was when I ran 7-10 miles a day (for about 20 years, operational cycles excepted).
What I do is live uncomfortable. My writing desk is a folding tray table and a hard chair. Getting up every half-hour is pretty nice.
I sleep on a hard floor, or on a too-short ottoman in one of the kennel rooms. (Yes, I’m married, and no, it’s not an issue…combat flashbacks make sharing a room hazardous to my wife’s health.)
To watch TV or eat (not much), I sit on the floor. There are no Lay-Z-Boys here; if they were, they’d be occupied by Pit Bulls. (I use a Pit as a pillow.)
And, finally, we don’t celebrate holidays with ‘special meals’. Dogs eat first. We get macaroni and cheese. (Gluten-free!)
The dogs help a lot – I can’t walk them anymore, but I do have to get up to let them out, and let them in again. With 22 “inside” dogs in winter (too fragile to be outdoors in extreme weather), there’s about an every-thirty-minute “twitch”.
Anyone want to come and hang out?
I love my life; don’t get me wrong. It provides involvement and a level of physical engagement that are absolutely necessary to keep me going, given current circumstances.
And it provides a sense of mission; the guys did not have other options for a home. We were it.
That may be the operative factor in keeping to a healthy, fit lifestyle – how you see yourself. In spite of everything that’s goner horribly wrong, I still have a job to do, and a physical good that I can accomplish each day, even if it’s just being a doorman to dogs.
Still in the fight, still operational, and there’s the motivation.
Thanks for the peek into your daily life, Andrew. I think I could pass on the cushion-less part of your life and the pit bull as a pillow.
Janet Ann Collins
Andrew, your pit bulls sound like great pillows. When we were first married my husband and I shared our double bed with two dalmatians. Now I wonder how we ever did that.
Andrew, this is perhaps a stupid question, but do you have a favorite dog? That’s probably like asking a mom if she has a favorite child. You can answer honestly, I won’t tell your pups what you say 🙂
I thought acquiring Benny the rescue dog would be a boon to my exercise. It doesn’t work in winter–turns out Benny hates cold. Maybe we should have rescued a husky.
I have an exercise routine and a stationary bike. But I drive an hour to and from my desk job. The electronic medical record is bad for my health. I used to walk upstairs to the nursing units to check charts. Now I click my mouse. I don’t set a timer, but I get up often for short breaks. And I spend part of the time sitting on an exercise ball–I roll a smidge as I work; I don’t know if it’s any healthier, but it’s more comfortable than all day in a chair.
Thank you, Janet, for pointing us in healthier directions–without nagging.
You could borrow Denali the happy Husky, but she might not do you much good.
The first winter we had her, I discovered that she did not approve of cold. She had to be carried outside, and held above the surface of the snow to do her duties.
I tried everything to get her past this, but all I learned was the salutary lesson –
Never try to match wits with a husky.
(And as a postscript, when taking her out became very difficult for me, she suddenly overcame her reluctance to snow, and is perfectly cooperative.)
Had a husky mix when I was a child. Smartest dog ever. Loved the snow; we’d try to leave her behind when we skated on the creek, but she’d escape and find us. She’d chase bunnies through the snow covered marsh grass, corner them and let them go–it was all about the run. And the dog hair! My chore was to brush her daily. Clumps and clumps, with that much and more the next day. If I didn’t brush, I had to vacuum, and that was lots less fun.
Before Christmas, I was stuck in a rut trying to figure out my next direction in the writing world. But once the idea came, I got busy writing. I worked hard through the Christmas break and through January, up until our vacation to Disney. I stepped on the scale and had lost five pounds. I had accidentally missed a few meals while writing. And I’d get up and do leg squats and arm lifts. I’m going to add my small hand weights in here pretty soon. And heading into Disney, I’m so thankful I shed five pounds, because I haven’t stepped on the scale since I’ve been back! 🙂 But I’m busy editing, so here we go ….
Shelli, kudos to you for working in such a concentrated fashion that mealtime rolled by unnoticed. Leg squats and arm lifts with weights…yowza, that’ll keep you fit!
My first thought, Janet, was that with six homeschooled children I don’t sit for stretches of time. Ever. Yet, as they grow older and more independent, I’m sitting for longer periods of time. I’m not sure I’m up to an hour of solid sitting yet, unless they’re all in bed, but I’m going to keep an eye on my activity levels this week.
The exercising-while-watching-tv is an excellent idea and not hard to accomplish, considering the will power is there. (Not always the case for me.) We have a Wii Fit which came with a balance board and a program to step while watching tv or a DVD. While the actual Wii doesn’t work anymore, I still have the balance board and pull it out to step for 25 to 30 minutes while we watch a DVD. I could do that much more often. Thanks for the gentle nudge this morning.
Meghan, you’re welcome. The balance board and making sure you’re walking around regularly through the day should do the trick for you.
Thanks for the timely article. I think we all need to be reminded.
I waver between the guilt of sitting too much vs. the need for what Wendy recently referred to as “bottom glue” – sticking to the writing for extended periods of time.
Good news – last week I got my first request for a full manuscript from an agent. It is at least a step!
Sheila, that’s wonderful news!!
The post you wrote a few months ago about getting up every hour and walking for five minutes has stayed with me. I’ve been setting a timer to remind me to get up and walk after every 55 minutes of sitting.
As far as eating, I’m on a pretty restricted diet for health reasons, so my eating over the holidays didn’t change much. I still buy the same food items for my family and me that I bought before Christmas.
I’m working on re-beginning a regular work out regimen (again), but it’s been hard to get this back into my weekly routine. My biggest goal is to finally get the to point where I’m working out at least 3 times a week, regardless of whatever else is going on in my life.
Jeanne, I’m glad to hear that my previous blog helped you to create some healthy work habits.
That regular workout regimen is a challenge for most of us.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
Hubs went from the “hey, next time you go shopping can you buy…” role to “I’m going on a grocery run, what do you need?”
I tell you, it’s been AWESOME!! Why? He’s a ‘savoury snacker’. He thinks junking out at midnight involves pickles and goat cheese.
I’d rather sleep through that, thanks.
He also buys chips that are not appetizing whatsoever. Blech. I mean, creamy dill pickle chips do not even register on my thrill-o-meter.
And he’s always been a person who’s content to not have cookies in the house. So, once my Christmas baking was eaten up, I was happy that the temptation was out of the house.
My doctor has been nagging me to exercise more. I think he forgets the nerves in my feet are shot. Long story, and maybe TMI, but any impact bearing movement feels like there is no flesh on my feet. I wear shoes with Vibram soles just to walk around my house.
But who says I can’t do cardio without moving my feet?
So, I dance like NO ONE is watching. And believe me, that’s all the “showing” I’m gonna tell!!
I’d love to see that! 🙂
Yeah … cookies are a huge weakness for me. I can’t buy them. Or make them. I have no control. 🙂
I’m the same when it comes to cookies! 🙁
Jennifer, way to go with figuring out how to move without inflicting too much pain in your feet. That’s a big exercise challenge.
My husband used to buy all sorts of sweets when he went shopping. I like sweets, but I can limit my intake. Salty foods are my weakness. I have to force myself not to walk down the chips aisle in the grocery store. Once I traipse down that aisle, my cart starts to look like I’m going to party hearty. Um, no, those would be my personal snacking bags of goodies.
I’m with Shelli and Jennifer. I like cookies WAAAY too much. It’s a good thing I can’t eat them often anymore. 🙂 I guess. 😉
Thanks for sharing, Janet. ALL of this had been on my mind lately. I used to be a bank teller at a busy bank, and I zipped back and forth all day long. Two years ago, when I quit the bank to stay home with my son, I noticed the impact the major shift in physical activity had on my body–and my sweet tooth didn’t help much, either! So I’ve been trying to do better with my diet and with not sitting too long. Having a toddler (and babysitting a second one), I actually do have frequent interruptions. But there have been a few times lately where I had a backache for several days from sitting too long… :/ This article was timely for me! 🙂
Jennifer, I’m glad the article served as a timely nudge for you.
I often recall my college days, when I not only had youth on my side but also all that walking around campus. That doesn’t mean I ate well, but, hey, at least I was fit.
Our son gave my wife and I Fitbit wristbands for Christmas. These record the number of steps you take in a day. It took me a while to figure out how to use it, but finally did about two weeks ago. This weekend is the first time I made goal, which is 10,000 steps a day, logging in 11,400 and 11,500 Sunday/Saturday.
My writing area (which I’m not doing writing at right now, but using the same space for other pressing matters) is in our walk-out basement. Right near my workstation is our rebounder (a small, indoor trampoline). When the clock strikes on the hour and half hour, I get up from the computer and rebound for five minutes. It seems to be doing some good. Right now my weight is down 90 pounds from peak, though I’ve taken nine years to do that. Only 35 more to go to ideal.
David, it may have taken you a while to lose the weight, but you’re establishing awesome habits in the meantime. Congrats on some serious walking over the weekend!
I visited my grandson on his college campus this weekend, and after he showed the family where all his classes were, we had put in about 11,000 steps, many on steep inclines since his campus is in the Santa Cruz Mountains (California).
David, a consistent decline in weight for nine years should be applauded! Well done!
I’ve been doing research for my humorous healthy living blog and all of the little changes and minutes of exercise really do make a difference (on a molecular level, believe it or not). A timely reminder, thank you. Also, my favorite form of exercise is swimming laps at my YMCA. I find that it’s a great time to plot a scene, brainstorm blog posts, and create characters; productive for my mind and my body.
Katie, I’m with you on the benefits of swimming. It’s a favorite exercise for me, but I’ve been away from it for awhile. I think I need to rethink that…
Going on a bike ride pronto. The world is glossy from the remnants of rain this weekend and flower buds are popping open everywhere. Bliss.
Jenni, same with the flowers and trees in my locale. The mixture of warm weather with rain has caused nature to crank up the color machine.
Jenni, if I had your scenery, I would definitely get outside more. I love the photos you share on FB! Today, in Indiana, it’s gray. Everywhere. Just plain gray. Inside, there are candles and twinkle lights and hot coffee. Why leave? 🙂
If I had the money and the space, I’d get a treadmill desk. But I’ve found that anyone can create a standing desk, and it doesn’t even require all that much ingenuity. Just get a box to set on top of your desk, and put your laptop on it, so that it’s the right height for you to reach when standing. You can adjust your system so that you can go back and forth between sitting and standing all day. Once you find a system that works for you, find some kind of box or riser you find attractive.
I have a redundant system, meaning I do all my work on my laptop, and it sits full-time on a riser on the back corner of my desk. It’s connected to a nice keyboard and a large wide-screen monitor, which is where I work when I’m sitting at the desk. When I want to stand, I just move to the side and pull the riser & laptop forward, and work directly on that.
When I’m standing at my desk, I try not to stand still, but I’m always moving around, doing hamstring curls with my legs, stretching, etc., otherwise it’s not much better than sitting.
I’ve been doing this for years, and believe me, it still takes effort and intentionality to make myself get out of my chair (which is far too comfortable!) and walk around, or spend some time standing at the computer.
Intentional … the key word. 🙂 We really have to be intentional. Sounds like you have a great plan, Rachelle.
Here is a photo of my desk, since I know it’s kind of hard to envision from the description. I hope the link works.
Thanks for the photo, Rachelle, that really helps to envision how your system works. And thanks for your suggestions!
Rachelle, a ginormous thank-you for this idea and the photo! I’ve thought of setting up on our tall breakfast bar, but it’s too high to type comfortably. A box would be perfect.
As a fitness instructor, I’m shouting, “Amen!” over here, Janet. 🙂
I’m one of the crazies who loves a big, hard workout, but I also try to get out of my chair and move a little bit throughout the day. Especially on focused writing days, I find that movement fires up the neurons and keeps my creativity sharp. There are so many benefits of exercise beyond weight loss! 🙂
Sarah, I appreciate the thumbs up. It’s just so tempting to put butt in chair and keep it there. It feels more productive than getting up periodically and moving around, but I’ve discovered I’m more productive and mentally alert when I take the wee breaks.
Great article, Janet. It is very timely. I have passed your article on to my 12,000+ social media followers. You may enjoy my new book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit, which is on a similar holistic health theme: zon.com/Restoring-Health-Body-Mind-Spirit/dp/097820221X
Sorry for the typo: The accurate weblink is http://www.amazon.com/Restoring-Health-Body-Mind-Spirit/dp/097820221X . The book is based on the book of Titus, looking at holistic health and godliness.
Thank you, Ed, for passing the article along to your social media followers. We all need encouragement to make changes in our lives. Your book sounds like a like a whole different way of looking at the book of Titus.
My problem is that I’ve often tried to change too much, too soon. This only leads to a sense of failure and reinforcement of the idea that I can’t stick with things for very long. Over time I’ve learned that it’s best to make small changes–whatever they are–that are easy to attain. Then I find that those small successes snowball into bigger successes over time. But only if I don’t try to rush things! I wrote about starting small in the area of working out here, https://prayingwithoneeyeopen.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/a-little-yes/
Hannah, you’re so right that most of us are overachievers in setting our goals and then underachievers in reaching them.
Every year I ask what small difference I can make in my habits that will lead to better health.
And thank you for sharing a link to your blog.
Janet Ann Collins
When I learned my eyeball cancer was likely to metastasize I cut out sugars and starches and lost seven pounds in a week and a half. Since I used to be skinny that was not good. Now I eat mostly whole grains and fruit, with occasional sugar and, thankfully, haven’t lost any more weight. But I spend so much time in front of my computer that I need more exercise. I take my dog for daily walks, but she wants to stop and sniff every few feet so that doesn’t burn calories. I have foot problems, so standing at the computer wouldn’t work for me. Any suggestions?
Janet, swimming might be a good option for you, although that involves a bigger break in your day.
I love swimming because it’s mentally soothing and gives me a chance to ponder and pray while exercising.
Janet Ann Collins
Swimming? In the winter? Maybe I’ll try it this summer. But right now I think I’ll take a walk without my dog.
Heated pools, indoor pools–you know, swimming, even in the winter.
Janet Ann Collins
No indoor pools where I live. But I think walking more will help. Thanks for the suggetion.
Thanks for this post, Janet! I joined the Y last week. I don’t qualify for a senior membership just yet, so I had to pay the “big bucks,” which I hope will continue to be a motivation to actually use my membership. My goal over the next few weeks is simple: Get there and do something. So far, so good. I never could sit for long periods of time, so I think I’m safe there, but for lots of reasons I know it’s time for me to get moving and keep moving as part of a daily routine. So I especially appreciated your encouragement today!
You’re so welcome, Diane.
Sometimes I think what I would be paying per exercise session if I choose not to get out of bed for my Zumba class. The figure is startlingly humongous.THAT wakes me up and gets me going!
Great reminder. I too set a timer and have so much washing/dishes and house work to do with a family of six that finding a 2-3 minute job between writing is easy. It’s great for my book the family and my health.
This is a wonderful post. Thank you! A few years ago I lost over 50 pounds through changing my diet and walking. Back-to-back car accidents triggered the health change. I did very little work, especially writing, during that time as it caused strange sensations in my head (I think this was related to whiplash). Long story short, now that I am writing again it is a real struggle to keep up the healthy lifestyle I fought so hard to discover. I love the tips here, and I plan to link to your wonderful post on “Weigh-in Wednesday” on my blog!
Paula, I know that being sedentary is like a creeping vine that grows into something humongous before we realize it. I’m so glad this post was helpful to you.
The short version of my story is that the Trim Healthy Mama program, a Christ-centered plan that banished food bondage and fad diets — has changed my life! Not only do I feel better, but I THINK better.
There are a number of us writer types doing the program and walking through our journey to health together. Check out the plan here: http://www.trimhealthymama.
Thanks for the recommendation–and testimonial–Kathleen.
Annette Skarin (Annie Freewriter)
I do a couple of minor things besides walking my dog, I also run up and down my stairs several times and flex my feet while sitting (you should always do that on a plane). I also blink every fifteen minutes or so to moisturize my eyes.
Every time I shop and have two bags, I do reps alternating sides. Hope that helps
Annette, the good news is that you are moving your body regularly and are consciously working to stay active throughout the day. I think the studies show your choices are good ones.