Throughout the course of the last nine weeks, my eyes have been opened to an entirely new world full of nutritional and exercising information. It is rough being a thirty-three year old husband and father, with an eye on trying to remain on this planet for as long as humanly possible. As parents, we all have goals we want to achieve. The usual suspects include seeing your children graduate high school and then college, walking your daughter down the aisle of her wedding, and being able to retire and continue to live a healthy and happy life. What I have come to realize through this nutritional and exercising information is that in order to accomplish this goal, there are certain aspects of my life that I need to change. I am not a particularly healthy eater. I do not exercise regularly. I mostly do what I can with the time I have available. I suspect this problem plagues many men across this country and around the world. In my state, the obesity rate is close to 30% and it continues to trend upward (Centers for Disease Control, 2011). Without a drastic change in lifestyle, I am simply adding to the statistics. The knowledge I have gained in this course has led me to believe that this is simply unacceptable. Something has to change, and I have a plan to make that happen.
My life is an unusual one. My work schedule has me getting up before the sun rises and getting home before lunch time. After I get home, my time is mostly occupied by my two year old daughter. Then, I cook dinner and usually go to bed before the sun sets. Because of the nature of this lifestyle, there is not much time for things like exercise or any other physical activity. Do not get me wrong. I do participate in some mild physical activity associated with chasing my daughter around outside on a nice day or inside when the weather does not cooperate, but I would hardly call that exercise. On top of that, because of my daily routine, I do not have time to really concentrate on what I am eating. I consider it a success if I have time to eat at all. This presents a number of challenges to a person looking to improve their overall health. Though not impossible, creating a healthy eating and exercise plan will be one of the more difficult tasks I have had to partake in, matched only perhaps by the challenge of returning to school. My biggest obstacle is time, and so this plan is being created with that in mind.
My current weight is not something I consider to be a large problem. I am considered overweight for my height, which puts me at risk for a whole sort of health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease (United States Department of Agriculture, 2011). The first step in reducing my weight is to adjust what I am eating on a daily basis. The Food Pyramid recommends a diet that includes 7 ounces of grains, 3 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of dairy, and 6 ounces of protein. This plan calls for a total of 2200 calories taken in per day. At first glance, these seem to be rather unrealistic expectations. I go to work when it is still dark outside, where am I going to find fresh fruit? How am I going to fit 7 ounces of grains into my diet, with over half of them being whole grains? Will 6 ounces of protein be enough to make me feel full? These are questions that are quite common to anyone looking to change their diet, and present possibly the biggest challenge to overcome. But when you really sit down and break it down, it is not unrealistic at all.
Eating 2 cups of fruit for breakfast, along with a large glass of milk is something that takes very little time or effort. Doing grocery shopping ahead of time will be key to reaching this goal. I could easily knock out my daily recommended amount of dairy and fruit before I even leave the house for work.
For lunch, a sandwich made with lean cold cuts on whole grain bread would satisfy 2 ounces worth of my proteins and half of my grains. The tough part here...
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