Many people think of dieting as a test of will and endurance rather than as a positive lifestyle change. For them, dieting is like holding their breath under water—it’s not something you can do for long because, let’s face it, at some point, we all have to take a breath.
Today, we want to answer more of your questions about food and health choices, and the importance of making “YOU turns” to get back on track if you’ve veered away from your fitness goals. Our aim is to show you how your biology can work for you, not against you.
Q: My husband promised me he would exercise more to lose some weight and help lower his high blood pressure, but he’s not doing it—no matter how much I bug him about it. What can I do?
A: Help him find a game he likes to play or some reason for him to walk, maybe with a grandson or a buddy. Never bug—be a role model or point him to a friend or group of friends who are active because he’ll likely take on their behaviors and habits. In the meantime, tell him to take his medication and work with his doctor to get a prescription with acceptable or beneficial side effects. We have more than 160 choices, with every side effect—including some that increase libido and some that decrease it. Blood pressure is way too important to not get controlled now —it causes heart attacks, memory loss, impotence and wrinkles. If your husband has a stroke, he could become disabled. So find whatever floats his boat and encourage that joy of playing with friends—or you—as a way to motivate health. (Also, see our column in the last issue of SUCCESS to learn the five food felons to get out of your house.)
Q: Both my wife and I work late, so we often stop at fast-food places for our family dinners. We want to change this, but how will we get the kids to eat anything else now that they’re used to burgers and fries all of the time?
A: Here’s an idea: grilled salmon burgers on a 100 percent whole-wheat toasted bun or bread that’s ready in about five minutes. You can buy these at the big discount stores like Sam’s Club or Costco. Mahi-mahi and veggie burgers cook up just as fast, and all are inexpensive, tasty and healthy. You can even try a blind taste test with the veggie burgers on your kids. They are often indistinguishable.
Grill the burgers by placing them in a great nonstick grill pan without oil and add some garlic. Turn the stovetop to hot. When the oil from the salmon or veggie burger shows on the top, flip the burger, finish and then add a few red pepper flakes. Place it on a 100 percent whole-grain bun with your favorite mustard or seasoning and that’s it. If you want a complete meal, add some roasted fries and broccoli and you’re in dinner heaven in less than six minutes. (Many more fast, great-tasting and healthy recipes are in our book YOU: On A Diet and as this web exclusive on success.com.)
Q: I’ve never eaten healthy and now my doctor is telling me I have to lose weight. How am I supposed to learn how to eat healthy after 49 years of eating whatever I want?
A: If we thought it was too late, we’d just hit “delete,” or send these messages to the bottom of the ocean. It’s never too late. If you want to make a change, you just have to start slowly and keep at it. Metabolic syndrome, a big waist, heart disease, type 2 diabetes—and even wrinkles and impotence—are not inevitable, even if you’re currently spending more time on your butt than on your feet. This is easy: Just start walking. Doing so today could slash your risk of metabolic syndrome by as much as 24 percent within three years, even if you’re over 60 and carry a few extra pounds. We’ve had more than 10,000 people over the age of 60 lose over 60 pounds in two years since they started walking on our Enforcer program. Even without that, you can lose weight. Trust us, you can do this.
Q: I’ve been trying to give up caffeine, but somewhere around 11 a.m. every day I feel like I’m going to fall asleep at my desk, so I have a cup of coffee. Then I’m mad at myself for wrecking my streak but I still end up drinking two more cups. How can I discipline myself?
A: Why quit? Coffee has a lot of benefits and only four side effects that would cause anyone to quit—migraines, abnormal heartbeats, anxiety and gastric upset. Your daily cup of java may actually do more than get you revved at 11 a.m.: The caffeine might also reduce your risk for blood sugar disorders by improving insulin sensitivity. This keeps you off the blood sugar roller-coaster ride that can exacerbate already-low energy. And coffee reduces your risk of ovarian or prostate cancer, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, to name a few. So if coffee enjoys you and you enjoy it, don’t try to quit.
Q: My family has a history of high cholesterol and heart disease and I’ve already got high cholesterol. Is it worth it to even try to change what’s in my genes?
A: Absolutely do stuff to change! Recent data from the United Kingdom shows that moderate management of cholesterol substantially cuts the risk of having a heart attack—even among people who failed to manage their weight gain. In a study of almost 10,000 civil servants published in the European Heart Journal, researchers found that among those who lowered their cholesterol, the risk of heart attack dropped 74 percent. Yes, a decline in smoking rates also contributed to the lower risk, but the results would’ve been even more amazing if the participants hadn’t gotten fatter during the study period, according to an increase in the body mass index measuring obesity. The greatest single impact on the decline in heart attacks in the UK study came from lower levels of so-called bad cholesterol, or LDL. That may reflect greater use of a class of cholesterol-lowering medicines as well as changes in diet, the researchers said.
Since heart and vascular disease remains the world’s biggest killer—and your biggest risk factor for disability—why not beat it back and enjoy a greater quality of life overall? Heart and vascular disease is more than 74 percent preventable—and is even reversible.