Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Gym Myth

Worth their weight in weight loss

I tend to live in waves of fitness brought on by fatness. Basically. I live the healthy life for years, and then one day my mind overrides my habit and convinces me that I really don't feel like eating a salad, much less taking a bike ride.

I had this mental ambush about three years ago. FINALLY I conquered it, but what I discovered is this. The gym didn't do diddly for me. The gym is a scam. I'm 53 years old, and months of well meaning workouts alone amount to nothing. My most recent victory over sloth brought this fact to light. And here's why.

Sugar Sweet Talked Me Into 20 Pounds

God, I love sugar. As my head slowly killed my motivation to move faster than a stroll to the bathroom, I convinced myself that 3 Oreos a day was nothing. Then I blanked out and never saw the other crap I was eating. I appreciate those movies where guys decide to eat crap diets for sixty days. You know why? Because they are right. That mental and physical decline is real. 

If I felt bad, stressed or bored, I went for the sweets. I came home and agreed to taking a night off from cooking and had myself a greasy, fattening plate of restaurant food. A cooking break is welcomed by me, but the problem wasn't the break. It was what I ordered wherever I dined. Plus it became a frequent practice to split dessert.

I religiously made my way to the gym, and nothing happened. Nothing happened.

This fat Christy went to the gym daily

Step Back - She Could Be Dangerous

If a person pays $50 a month to stay in shape and that person loses nothing but the $50, that person will finally accept the truth. It isn't how hard your work out, it's what you eat. And with that admission, I stopped eating sugar and gluten cold turkey. I abandoned the gym and went back to a simple nightly yoga routine. I took more walks on the very nice greenbelt at the end of our street.

I lost 5 pounds a week for 3 weeks. Then it slowed down just a bit and finally settled back to my normal weight - my healthy weight, and I never went to the gym. I should have been a total crank, but after about day 3 I was o.k. I then stopped dairy and corn. I was a little depressed by the food deprivation. But I survived. I stabilized and now I can think like a rational person and maintain a healthy diet, yoga, and even running in the greenbelt.

It  is a mind game to do this. It requires will power. It requires resistance to peer pressure. No matter what you read, or what some celebrity promises you, it is not the workout as much as it is the food. If you accept that sugar and junk foods are demons, you'll be able to enjoy even the richest foods without guilt. Bacon has nothing on an Oreo cookie when it comes to weight gain.

Hoppin' John made from scratch

So let's do a little food budget analysis to see if I'm spending more money on whole foods than a quick, processed version of the same dinner. Option #1 has hidden fats, sugars, salt and preservatives. Option #2 is completely fresh and whole.

A Weekday Dinner

This is something most of us feel is impossible to cook, so we either skip cooking altogether or we pick something up on the way home. If you're like me, and you do cook dinner, you're probably looking for something fast and easy.

So I'm going to pick a meal and make it two ways, and compare:

Chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Option #1
(Fast and maybe cheaper.)
Heat & Eat Chicken Nuggets - $4.62 - bake for 20 minutes
One boxed mash potatoes - $.91 - about 5 minutes
Can of green beans - $.50 a can - about 5 minutes
Total Cost & Time - $6.03 - Including prep time, 25 minutes tops.

Option #2
(I'm assuming you have basic spices and butter/milk to season your meal.)
Fresh Boneless Chicken Breasts - $4.27 - season and broil in about 15 minutes
Fresh Russet Potatoes - $1.83 for 5 lb bag. Use 3, so really $.61 - 20 minutes
Fresh green beans - $.75 - about 10 minutes
Total Cost & Time - $5.63 - Including prep time, 35 minutes tops.

Honestly, there isn't much difference here, so why choose processed foods over whole foods?
To be fair, I can prep a meal pretty fast because I cook all the time, so it might take you 40 minutes the first few times, but the quality of the food and the control of calorie intake is worth it.


Option #1 - Potato chips - $2 for 11 ounce bag - It says there are 11 servings per container, but come on. We know it's more like 5 servings; which adds up to 240 calories per honest serving.

Option #2 - Apples - $2.98 for 3 lb. bag. There are about 15 small apples in a bag. Even if you eat 2 at a time, the apples are going to last longer than the chips and cost about the same amount per serving. A small apple is more like 70 calories, so two wouldn't be more than 140 calories.

It's the way you choose to think about your eating and exercising habits. You can tell yourself the whole food way is too difficult, but you can't tell yourself it's more expensive. If you're not a big fan of exercising, then the diet change alone will be of benefit, but it makes total sense to at least take a walk.

To sum it up, I can drop my gym membership and save $50 a month, and I won't have to use any of my savings to offset the cost of a healthy diet.
It's nice to be back to my old self.

Back to normal
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