Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Common, Serious, and Costly

Wanna guess what's common, serious, and costly to Americans?

Car accidents, unemployment, or heart surgery? Those are all good guesses. But not the right one this week.

The correct answer is obesity. The CDC released new statistics on the obesity epidemic in our country and said it's common, serious, and costly.

Common: More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese.

Serious: Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

Costly: In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.

Houst....America, we have a problem.

And what's more important for us (since most reading this blog live here in St. Louis) Missouri falls in the top 25% of states with over 30% of the population being obese.

But by now, you probably know it's a problem. You've seen the news, watched a documentary on fast food, or read a book claiming a cause for the state of America's health.

But with everything talked about on obesity, little is spent on fixing the problem. People love to talk about the problem itself. But what about fixing it?

In the recent article, Are Americans Ready To Solve the Weight Of the Nation? published in The New England Journal of Medicine they talk about individual, societal, even political reasons and responsibilities for obesity. It's a well written article. But it doesn't solve the problem.

So I'm not going to slop around about whether low or high income, ethnic background, or 1 and 2 parent households are more prone to becoming obese. I'm going to spend time on how to fix it.

And know this - it IS in your control to fix the problem. 

I've helped non athletic people lose weight. I've helped "big-boned" people lose weight. I've helped emotional eaters lose weight.

We all have issues. But YOU CAN take control and lose weight. If you want to.

How To Lose Weight

(There are numerous entries throughout this blog on weight loss. No need to jump back into ALL of the info. I'm keeping it simple.)

1.) Eat 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day. By now, everyone's heard this advice. But few heed it. No more skipping meals. No more big, bigger, and biggest meals of the day. 5-6 balanced meals. Period.

2.) Cut your carb intake. A lot. A good way to start is cutting the carbs from your dinner time meal. No more baked potato, no more rice, no more french fries. And puh-lease, stop eating fruit when you're trying to lose weight. I don't care if it's in season. Don't eat it!

3.) Exercise. A high school friend of mine recently asked me for an exercise plan. He's never really been a "workout" guy. So I said, "Listen, I'll create a workout plan for you ONLY if you follow through with it." Nothing fires me up more than spending time on something he'll just set aside for later.

He's been diligent over the past 6 weeks and is  starting to see some very positive changes. His excitement and commitment have grown tremendously. And I dare see he's caught the "workout bug"!

He shared with me what he tells himself during his 6am workouts. When he feels like quitting or if the set is getting hard he says, "Don't be a wuss Andy." He says this to himself and pictures me standing over him. It motivates him and he finishes every time without fail.

A saying like that can be VERY powerful. Because we're human. We easily tell ourselves to stop short. (That's why having a coach is so effective.)

Don't worry about what type of exercise you do in the beginning. Dance, run, jump, lift... Just start! And do it with intention and intensity.

If you have to lose weight realize this will be a challenging journey. If you wanted to learn a second language or how to water ski, it would be hard too. This is no different. You will have to make sacrifices and likely do things you don't necessarily want to do.

But losing a lot of weight will be much much more rewarding. And completely worth the sacrifice and hard work. Cindy is a terrific example (4th person down).

I'm currently working with a select group of individuals right now that need to lose 50 pounds or more. A serious commitment is required and I only have the ability to coach 7 more . If you'd like more details please email me with Weight Loss in the subject line.

To your weight loss,

Tim Chudy
Fitness Together

P.S. If you don't know whether you're obese or not, see the BMI table below. I've been saying for years how BMI is not the best way to determine obesity. But the government hasn't listened to me yet.;-) We'll discuss this when I go over the details of my Weight Loss coaching program. Remember to email with Weight Loss in the subject line.

P.P.S. A quick look at Missouri's Policy Tracking System for obesity, nutrition, and physical activity shows that just under 75% of the policies are dead in the water. That means the government won't help you out as much. YOU need to take more responsibility. But YOU and you alone, CAN make the change.

P.P.P.S. The CDC also reported that childhood obesity has almost tripled over the last 30 years. And that trend does not seem to be slowing. Our friend Jean Huelsing is championing the fight against childhood obesity. If your child struggles with their weight Camp Jump Start is worth investigating.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Barefoot Running: Good or Bad?

If you've registered in any race over the past few years you've seen someone wearing what look like water moccasins with toes. Or maybe even someone just running with no shoes and socks at all like the guy pictured at right. I haven't seen any runners forgoing their shoes in the Olympics, but I'm sure there's one or two out there.

Barefoot running has been gaining popularity over the past few years in part from the book Born To Run. Author Christopher McDougall touts the benefits of barefoot running and bases the book on the Tarahumara, Native Americans to Northwest Mexico.

But even before McDougall's book an Ethiopian runner made barefoot running popular after winning Gold in the 1960 Olympics. Abebe Bikila was a late entry and the shoes he was given for the race didn't fit properly. (No shoe contracts back then.) So he ditched them and decided to go barefoot. After all, that's how he trained for the Olympics back home. Bikila went on to win back-to-back Gold medals and set the world record in the '64 Games.

After McDougall's book and the resurgence of barefoot running (there's now a national association solely for barefoot running), shoe manufacturers have been quick to develop shoes that mimic barefoot running. People are flocking to this style of running for the main reason of preventing injuries, but also as a way to better run times and performance.

"The research is really not conclusive on whether one approach is better than the other," says Carey Rothschild, an instructor of physical therapy at the University of Central Florida. "What is clear is that it's really a matter of developing a good running form and sticking to it, not suddenly changing it."

She surveyed over 6,000 runners and what she found was very interesting.

Most people, as mentioned, turned to barefoot running in the hopes of improving performance and reducing injuries. Ironically, those who said they never tried it, avoided it for fear of injury and slower running times.

However, research shows that there are risks to running no matter what someone puts on his or her feet.

With barefoot running you tend to land on your forefoot rather than on your heel as with shoe running. Shoes try to absorb the shock of the heel strike by the extra cushioning.

One camp will tell you barefoot runners will suffer more stress fractures and calf soreness, while the other will tell you shoe runners will suffer more knee and hip injuries.

Clearly, "There is no perfect recipe," says Rothschild.

She published a paper in this month's issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning reviewing the research and providing a guide for barefoot running.

"The bottom line is that when a runner goes from shoes to no shoes, their body may not automatically change it's gait. But there are ways to help make that transition smoother and lower the risk of injury," says Rothschild.

So there you have it - barefoot running is neither good nor bad. It's just a way to run. Whether you run barefoot or in a new pair of Nike's, proper training and conditioning is essential.

So put on a pair of shoes - or don't - and go run somewhere!

Tim Chudy
Fitness Together
This is Abebe Bikila running barefoot in the 1960 Olympics! He was the first runner to ever win back-to-back Gold medals in the marathon.

Have you tried running barefoot? What's your take? Post it below.