Last month, we listed the items that should be on everybody’s health maintenance checklist. At the top of the list were diet and exercise. Although individual needs and abilities vary, these guidelines are universal:
- The most successful diet involves accountability – track what you eat.
- Focus your diet and exercise on health rather than weight-loss. A decrease of body fat and an increase in lean body mass will usually follow.
- For both diet and exercise, consistency always outdoes stringency.
- Daily exercise should be the goal.
- Individuals with active lifestyles still require regular exercise.
- Individuals who naturally exist at an ideal body weight still require a healthy diet and regular exercise.
To illustrate the importance of consistency, consider the value of one pound in terms of calories – approximately 3,500. Most people can find 150 calories of unhealthy food that they can eliminate from their diet each day (a large cola, part of a dessert). Likewise, most people could easily add 150 calories of exercise to their daily routine (one-mile walk). This small decrease in intake and modest increase in expenditure will lead to one pound of weight loss in 12 days, 10 pounds in 4 months, and 30 pounds in one year. But the real benefit is feeling better. What better motivates the pursuit of additional healthy lifestyle changes?