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The Boomer's Guide to a Healthier, Happier Life
By L. Joe Porter
Addicus Books, Inc.Copyright © 1998 L. Joe Porter, MD
All rights reserved.
Weighing In, Eating Right, and Taking It All Off
Weigh Yourself Daily
Common Opinion: You can throw away your scales and track your weight-loss and fitness program by how well your clothes fit.
Medical Opinion: Your weight will vary a few pounds from day to day, and at different times during the same day. What you ate yesterday will not add extra pounds to your figure the following morning. However, what you eat will eventually show up there in real numbers.
Obesity kills. It also undermines your quality of life. Hypertension, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, gout, blindness, birth defects, trauma, gallbladder problems, bone and joint degeneration, and aches and pains are all attributed to obesity.
Charles Hennekens, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Woman's Hospital in Boston, points out that Americans are the fattest people on earth (except for the residents of a few Pacific islands). In fact, the United States is the heaviest society in the history of the world. The fattest age groups are men ages 50 to 69, and women ages 50 to 59. They are twice as likely to be obese as people in their 20s. Obesity among all males increased 72 percent from 1978 to 1995, with a 79 percent increase among males 50 to 69 years old. Among women the increase was 58 percent overall and 21 percent for those 50 to 69 years old.
Simple Change: You shouldn't overlook the use of a scale as a positive motivational tool in your health-and-fitness regime and as a daily reminder that you need to achieve an ideal weight.
P.S.: I was never extremely obese. Yet slowly, over the years, I gained forty pounds. That fact as well as a serious illness prompted me to develop a healthier lifestyle. I have changed several aspects of my daily routine, most notably one related to weight loss. Like so many of my patients, in the past I had tried multiple "diets." All were unsuccessful in keeping the weight off.
Why? By definition, a diet is bound to fail. A diet is something you stick with for a given length of time. It has a beginning and an end. The truth is, there is no end to achieving and maintaining your optimum weight.
I changed my eating habits stressing only one principle: "total calories in, total calories out." I lost forty pounds and five inches from my waist. This took approximately eight months. That was two years ago. I weigh myself every morning. I eat only when I'm hungry. I eat low-fat foods. Occasionally I do have a piece of pizza, but only one.
When my patients suggest that they are too old to change their habits, I simply relate my story and remind them that I am fifty-nine years old.
Be Hungry at Least Once Every Day
Common Opinion: You need to eat three balanced meals each day.
Medical Opinion: Your ideal weight is achieved and maintained by "total calories in, total calories out." There is nothing magical about eating at 7:00 A.M., noon, and 7:00 P.M. If you aren't hungry, don't eat. How many times do you go out to lunch with friends or colleagues just because you are asked? Do you reward yourselves with food for all your hard work every morning? Many people fall into an eating routine but are seldom hungry!
We often eat for the wrong reasons. We're bored. We're watching television. We're depressed. We're killing time. We need stimulation. Food is a pastime for many people.
If you are overweight, you need to burn more calories than you take into your body. Every day. Period. You can do this by eating sensible portions of low-fat, high-protein, high-fiber foods and by performing an adequate amount of activity.
Simple Change: Think before you eat. Make certain you are really hungry. If you aren't hungry, don't eat!
Look at Yourself Nude in a Full-Length Mirror
Common Opinion: Looking at yourself in a mirror is to be avoided at all costs when you're trying to lose weight.
Medical Opinion: There's nothing like body image to spur you toward healthy eating habits. Recently, the editors of The New England Journal of Medicine stated that "the vast amount of money spent on diet clubs, special foods, and over-the-counter remedies, estimated to be on the order of $30 million to $50 million yearly, is wasted." Incentive, motivation, and feedback are strategies that weight loss centers use to divest you of your hard-earned money. Most centers also rely on medications as part of their total weight-loss plans.
Simple Change: Stand stark naked before a full-length mirror. Look at your entire body. With middle age comes the likelihood of increased fat around the middle. "Love handles," "spare tire," and "beer belly" are just a few of the unpleasant names we have assigned to this condition. If you don't like what you see, change it. Play mental games with yourself. Imagine your hips less full, a tummy that doesn't protrude, firmer upper arms, only one chin. Now keep that image with you as you go about your day. Try it. It works.
Start Your Day with a Bowl of Bran Cereal
Common Opinion: Eating a high-fiber diet means starting every morning with a glass of bad-tasting liquid mixed from a powder.
Medical Opinion: Fiber comes in many forms and is essential to good health. A bowl of oatmeal contains 10 percent of your daily requirement of fiber. All-Bran has about 25 percent of your RDA. You can get fiber at every meal, of course. Grains, beans, crunchy vegetables, and citrus fruits are all good sources.
Fiber is extremely important in your diet. It can prevent cancer of the colon. Cancer of the colon is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among both men and women in the United States.
The Chinese diet contains three times more fiber than the typical American diet. As a result, the incidence of colon cancer in China is approximately two-thirds lower than in the United States. The Chinese also consume about 35 percent less protein, 50 percent less fat, and 30 percent fewer calories than do Americans. These factors may also reduce their risk of colon cancer.
Genetic factors also appear to influence the development of colon cancer. A study of 389 patients with colorectal cancer indicates that 15 to 20 percent had at least one relative who suffered malignancies of the large bowel. Fiber in the diet may be particularly important for those with a genetic predisposition to this type of cancer.
A number of studies have also shown that fiber-rich foods may help prevent breast cancer. One study demonstrates that a diet high in animal protein and fat and low in fiber coincides with a much higher risk of breast cancer, particularly among women under fifty.
Other studies at major medical centers suggest that a high-fiber diet may help prevent cancers of the esophagus, mouth, pharynx, stomach, endometrium (lining of the uterus), and ovary.
Here's the really big news: a high-fiber, low-fat diet may eliminate most hemorrhoids. It may well eliminate the need for laxatives among those suffering from chronic constipation.
Simple Change: Okay, if you absolutely can't eat bran cereal, then eat another high-fiber cereal every morning. Make certain that grains, fruits, and vegetables are well represented at every meal.
Eat Tuna Fish
Common Opinion: Eating meat is essential for good health.
Medical Opinion: Protein is essential in your diet, but it need not come from red meat. Tuna, salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies, sardines, and lake trout are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, or EPA (eicosapen-taenoic acid). These substances are the best natural inflammation fighters. Inflammation is the source of pain in arthritic joints. Fish oils are also very helpful in producing the good type of cholesterol in your blood, reducing the amount of bad cholesterol.
Simple Change: Eat tuna or one of the other fish four times a week to get protein in your diet without the fat of red meat. Try making a tuna salad with chopped celery, chopped carrots, chopped onions, and no-fat mayonnaise. Eat this regularly with a green salad topped with no-fat dressing or with mixed fresh fruit. Drink a glass of skim milk and you have a complete, ideal lunch. Occasionally substitute garlic/bean soup for the salad or fruit. Garlic has been shown to help lower cholesterol, fight infection, block cancer, and clear the arteries. This lunch is delicious, low in calories, low in fat, and high in protein and fiber.
Enjoy Baked Potatoes with No-Fat Gravy
Common Opinion: Potatoes are fattening. Gravies are even worse.
Medical Opinion: Potatoes are inherently good. They are excellent sources of fiber and nutrients. They contain no fat and a minimum of calories. But frying potatoes or drowning them in butter or sour cream changes the story drastically.
Simple Change: Eat baked potatoes often. When you eat them, eat the peel also. It's a good source of additional fiber and nutrients. Bonus: you can eat as many potatoes as you like.
P.S.: You can even add gravy! Several companies make no-fat gravy in three flavors: beef, chicken, and turkey. They're all good!
Include Fat-Free Yogurt in Your Diet
Common Opinion: Real men don't eat yogurt.
Medical Opinion: Yogurt contains little fat and is a great source of calcium and protein.
Simple Change: Try the many flavors of yogurt. Even if you think you won't like the taste, you will probably change your mind when you taste wonderful flavors like raspberry, peach melba, Key lime pie, and Boston cream pie.
P.S.: Some fat in your diet is essential to good health. It is needed to utilize fat-soluble vitamins. Limit your fat to 20 to 25 percent of your daily caloric intake (40 to 50 grams of fat on a 2,000-calorie diet) if you are at ideal weight. If you are overweight, reduce your fat intake to 20 to 30 grams of fat and adjust your total calories appropriately.
Use Mustard and Salsa on Your Food
Common Opinion: All condiments are created equal.
Medical Opinion: Mustard and salsa will increase your metabolism of the food they are eaten with by 20 percent. Therefore, you actually get 80 percent of the stated calories. Both mustard and salsa are low in calories and enhance the taste of foods. Low-fat foods like fish can be spiced up with sauces made of mustard or salsa.
Simple Change: Instead of putting mayonnaise on your next sandwich or dipping with high-calorie dips, substitute these two delicious toppings.
Drink Skim Milk
Common Opinion: You don't need to drink milk if you take a calcium tablet.
Medical Opinion: Most people are aware that milk is an excellent source of calcium. Most are not aware that milk contains other nutrients essential for healthy bones as you grow older. Drinking skim milk, rather than taking calcium tablets, is the best low-fat source of calcium, protein, vitamin D, and to a lesser extent, vitamin C.
Low bone density, or osteoporosis, may cause back pain, fractures of the vertebrae, wrist fractures, and hip fractures. Osteoporosis is a major health problem in the United States, affecting more than 25 million Americans and contributing to more than 1.5 million fractures each year. One of every two women over the age of fifty will suffer an osteoporotic fracture at some time in her life, as will one of every three men over the age of seventy-five. Even seemingly minor injuries may cause serious fractures with osteoporosis. As an orthopedic surgeon, I have found that osteoporotic fractures constitute a large percentage of my practice.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recently studied carefully designed diets. A diet consisting of dairy products, two or three low-fat servings daily, combined with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lowered the blood pressure of hypertensive patients by an average of eleven points. This was on par with patients who instead took an antihypertensive medication.
Simple Change: Drink skim milk every day and exercise. For post-menopausal women, estrogen treatment or calcitonin may also increase bone density. Start early to prevent osteoporosis.
P.S.: Remember, when recipes call for milk, use skim milk. You don't need the extra fat that even 2 percent milk gives you.
Don't Salt Your Food
Common Opinion: Everything tastes better with salt. Besides, salt is important to your health.
Medical Opinion: Salt is an essential element in many of our metabolic processes. For most of us, salt intake is no problem. However, those who have a family history of hypertension (high blood pressure) and/or congestive heart failure should restrict the amount of sodium in their diets.
Many of us like the taste of salt but are unaware of just how much sodium many processed foods contain. For instance, one teaspoon of salt has about 600 milligrams of sodium — a quarter of your daily limit. One cup of rice has 840 milligrams of sodium, or 35 percent of your daily limit. Eight ounces of V-8 juice contain 620 milligrams of sodium, or 26 percent of your limit. Two tablespoons of Italian dressing contain 380 milligrams of sodium. Olive oil has no sodium.
Most people get plenty of sodium in their diet, without adding salt at the table.
Simple Change: Read the labels on processed foods before you buy them. Some of the high-sodium foods may surprise you. Your daily intake of sodium should be less than 2,500 milligrams.
If you must shake something on your food, use a salt substitute. Several on the market contain spices like dried parsley, basil, oregano, and cayenne. These spices will add zest to your meals.
Take a Multiple Vitamin Every Day
Common Opinion: For most people, taking vitamin supplements is a waste of time and money.
Medical Opinion: Vitamins contain antioxidants which enhance your body's natural defenses against free radicals — hyperactive atoms that can damage tissues and organs. These free radicals, that we take into our bodies from our increasingly polluted environment, may cause heart disease and cancer.
Many vitamin supplements contain antioxidants. The major antioxidants are vitamins A, C, and E. Other antioxidants found in some vitamin supplements include choline, ginseng, pumpkin-seed meal, oyster extract, L-cystine, garlic, selenium, glutathione, and bioflavonoids. Each person requires different amounts of antioxidants at different ages, as well as for different activity and stress levels at the same age. The benefits of taking a daily vitamin supplement are myriad. Below are just a few.
Vitamins C and E in higher doses may help your immune system fight off colds and other viruses.
Vitamin E may also protect against Parkinson's disease and help slow Alzheimer's disease.
Vitamin A (beta-carotene) is important for healthy skin, hair, and mucous membranes. It also helps your night vision.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) aids metabolism and promotes a healthy central nervous system and heart.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) promotes clear vision and is essential for growth.
Vitamin B3 (niacin) is important for your digestive system and stimulates blood circulation.
Vitamin B6 helps metabolize fat. It also facilitates the production of red blood cells and helps to balance the fluids in your body.
Vitamin B12 also helps in the production of red blood cells and promotes a healthy nervous system.
Folic acid facilitates the production of red blood cells and helps metabolize proteins.
Excerpted from Simple Changes by L. Joe Porter. Copyright © 1998 L. Joe Porter, MD. Excerpted by permission of Addicus Books, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
PART I - Weighing In, Eating Right, and Taking It All Off,
1 Weigh Yourself Every Day,
2 Be Hungry at Least Once Every Day,
3 Look at Yourself Nude in a Full-Length Mirror,
4 Start Your Day with a Bowl of Bran Cereal,
5 Eat Tuna Fish,
6 Enjoy Baked Potatoes with No-Fat Gravy,
7 Include Fat-Free Yogurt in Your Diet,
8 Use Mustard and Salsa on Your Food,
9 Drink Skim Milk,
10 Don't Salt Your Food,
11 Take a Multiple Vitamin Every Day,
12 Consider an Asprin a Day,
13 Reconsider Your Use of Alcohol,
PART II - Enhancing Your Physical Well-Being,
14 Select a Clean-Air Environment,
15 Wash Your Hands Several Times Every Day,
16 Do Enough Exercise Three Times a Week to Get Mildly Short of Breath,
17 Avoid Back Pain,
18 Engage in at Least Two Hours of Activity after Your Evening Meal,
19 Understand Arthritis,
20 Cover Up When You're Out in the Sun,
21 Buckle Your Seat Belt,
22 Don't Ignore Changes in Yourself: Signs of Stroke, Diabetes, and Injury,
23 Take Medicine Only As Prescribed,
24 Carry a List of Your Medications, Allergies, and Illnesses,
25 Get Your Z-Z-Zs,
26 Don't Smoke Cigarettes,
27 Get a Flu Shot Every Year,
28 Men Over 40: Get A Yearly PSA Test for Prostate Cancer Women Over 40: Get a Yearly Pap Smear and Mammogram,
29 Go to Church,
PART III- Enhancing Your Emotional Well-Being,
30 Kiss Your Parents and Children Every Time You See Them,
31 Spend Fifteen Minutes at Midday in a Quiet Room with Your Eyes Closed,
33 Work Crossword Puzzles, Playa Musical Instrument, or Play Cards,
34 Playa Competitive Sport,
35 Recognize Burnout and Deal with It,
36 If You Don't Like Something, Change It. If You Can't Change It, Change the Way You Think about It,
37 Be Monogamous,
38 Think about Retirement Often,
About the Author,