Welcome back as we follow Kevin Schoeninger’s exploration into the Big Questions of life. This week in Spiritual Growth Monthly (SGM), Kevin reminds us that asking Big Questions doesn’t mean questions about the universe, or vague philosophies. It means questions about how we deal with what matter to us the most, what we think about every day. And one thing that millions of us think a lot about is how to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
It may seem odd to discuss body weight on a web site about spiritual growth. But the whole idea of how our bodies, minds and spirits work in harmony is a big part of what SGM and the Mind Body Training Company are all about. For us to live in harmony, no essential part of us can be left out.
Kevin is in a unique position to explore body image as well as spiritual issues, because he has been a personal trainer for over 30 years. He knows firsthand the impact body weight has on a person’s self image, and confidence, and also the serious health risks that being overweight can cause.
I am someone who has fought the weight loss battle since I was a child. I know that when we are faced with being overweight, there are three separate issues that color every area of our lives: 1) how we look, 2) how we feel, and 3) how we feel about how we look.
We all know that our modern culture seems obsessed with how people look, and there are more and more expectations for us to conform to unreal standards of beauty and appearance. But at the same time, erroneous diet information continues to make us all a little fatter every year. Beyond how we look, unhealthy diet tips have caused a drastic rise in levels of diabetes, and other diseases related to poor nutrition and excess weight.
Kevin is not alone in trying to spread the news about healthy, sane ways to reduce body fat, feel better, and reduce stress, but he gives an excellent summary of the key factors that can help us change for good. Here are a few highlights:
Fats in our diets are good for us. The whole low-fat myth of the past several decades has made our bodies carry more fat than ever before. Without good fats, like those found in olive oil, egg yolks, nuts and more, our bodies are forced to go without crucial nutrients. Just as importantly, fats slow the spikes in insulin levels caused by too many refined carbohydrates. The carbs make us hungrier, we eat more of them, and our weight creeps up a little every day.
The fats we eat need to be real, natural ones, like those listed above. Trans-fats, hydrogenated oils, and fat substitutes act like poison, and sadly, we have been fed the idea that they were healthy for decades now. Who knows how much of the awful stuff we have all consumed. So Kevin reminds us that we’ll all feel better, and look better if we just eat real food.
Kevin suggests a ratio of 40% protein, in our diets, then 30% complex carbohydrates and 30% fats.
Sugar is the real enemy. Sugar is the ultimate super carb. It has all of the craving inducing, insulin robbing, mood and immune system depressing addictive power of a street drug, and most of us are hooked. Even people who say they don’t like sweets can crave pasta, or crackers, which turn to sugar when you digest them.
Many real foods are naturally sweet: fruits, milk, and unsalted nuts all contain different levels of sweetness. Without a load of sugar, we can taste that natural sweetness more easily, and enjoy it as a compliment to protein, complex carbs, and fats.
Exercise improves both how we look and feel. Exercise for weight loss is not merely a matter of how many calories we burn in each session. Overdoing it can cause injury, or simply make us so sore we never want to do it again. Kevin suggests 20 minutes a day, or 60 minutes three times a week, in a combination of cardio, strength training and stretching. That is enough to help us move more freely, stand taller, and feel less achy and tired. In turn, we may eat less, because we don’t automatically turn to food when we need a boost.
Stress management. Along with good, real food, and moving our bodies, we need to find ways to release stress before it harms us. Stress creates the hormone cortisol, which causes our bodies to cling to their fat stores, and encourages us to store even more. Simple, daily relaxation techniques complete the diet and exercise cycle, and help us feel better overall.
I recommend Kevin’s entire article for much more detail, as well the other helpful links he provides. Building a life that balances healthy nutrition, moving our bodies, and using tools to manage stress, is the healthiest way to lose weight, and create a lifestyle that keeps it off for good.
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