Good choices pay off

Lately my house, like many others in America, has become more health conscious. We are trying to make our diet a little better and increasing our physical activity. As we all know, obesity is a huge (no pun intended) problem in America.

Every year more people die from obesity related health problems than anything else. The food that should nourish us and provide us energy to get us through the day is doing a great job. Well, our food has gone above and beyond the call of duty and has supplied a surplus of calories. Okay, it is actually our overactive forks and jaw muscles that have gone over the top, but I refuse to take all the blame.

I eat only until I am full, which according to some study or other is way too much. Supposedly we should eat slowly and chew our food thoroughly in order to give our stomachs a chance to notify our brains that the tank is full. I don't know about you, but I can eat a 1,000-plus calorie fast food "meal" in about 16.8 seconds while I am driving to the next basketball practice, or on the way home from daycare, church, the office, Mom's house, work or any place else. My children believe that trips to Disney are actually thinly veiled excuses to eat at every fast food restaurant we pass. No, we don't eat impulsively, we eat continuously. We are not gourmet food critics, we are gourmand food lovers.

In the news a few weeks ago I heard a story about a teacher that did something resembling the "Supersize Me," 30 day fast food challenge. In case you don't know what that is, a man made headlines when he ate nothing but a well-known fast food establishment's food for 30 days and charted his weight, and other stats while he did it. Predictably, he gained considerable weight and experienced some negative health effects during this period, all of which was documented on film.

I remember a particular quote from this documentary that went like this: "When I asked my nutritionist if it would ever be okay to eat this stuff, they said, yes, when there is NO other source of food available." I take that to mean, "Don't tell my nutritionist."

The teacher's results seem to contradict this older documentary. This teacher in Iowa took the "Supersize Me" idea a step further and ate nothing but food from this same restaurant chain. Not being satisfied with a mere 30-day challenge, he tacked on another 60 for good measure, making it a full 90 days of nothing but fast food. I'm sure you're thinking that's about as good as sandpaper without the paper, he must be three times as bad off as the first guy, right? Wrong.

In 90 days, the school teacher actually lost 37 pounds and lowered, yes lowered, his cholesterol by some 79 points. Amazing, right? How did he do it? By carefully selecting the items he ate. In fact he had his students plan his meals. The rules? Eat less than 2,000 calories a day, oh, and walk 45 minutes a day.

All the fat guys like me want to know: can it be that simple? Just by carefully selecting what we eat, and by not eating too much, plus a small investment into burning some of those calories, you can lose weight. Not to sound like Aesop, but what's the point of all this? It's the choices we make, not where we make them, that make us fat - or not.