In his book, Flourish, Martin Seligman addresses many ways we can live a thriving life. Below is an excerpt from the chapter "Positive Physical Health: The Biology of Optimism." The main take away is that we need to accept that exercise is a must, dieting (restricting calories and/or taking supplements as food a replacement) does not make us healthier, live longer or support our weight loss goals. Being active, even if it doesn't equate to a low number on the scale, provides us a longer, healthier life.
"Most dieting is a scam, a $59 billion scam last year in America. You can take off 5 percent of your weight in one month by following any diet on the best-seller list. The problem is that 80 percent to 95 percent of people will regain all that weight or more over the next three to five years. Dieting can make you thinner, but it is usually only temporary. It does not make you healthier, however, because for most of us, dieting does not stick.
Exercise, in contrast, is not a scam. A much higher percentage of people who take up exercise stick with it and become permanently fit. Exercise is sticky and self-maintaining, dieting is usually not. Even though it lowers your risk for death, exercise will not make you much thinner, since the average vigorous exerciser loses fewer than five pounds of body weight.
Just as optimism is a subjective health asset for cardiovascular disease, it is clear that exercise is a functional health asset: people who exercise a moderate amount have increased health and low mortality, while couch potatoes have poor health and high mortality. The beneficial effects of exercise on health and illness are finally well accepted even within the most reductionist part of the medical community, a guild very resistant to any treatment that is not a pill or a cut. The surgeon general's 2008 report enshrines the need for adults to do the equivalent of walking 10,000 steps per day. (The real danger point is fewer than 5,000 steps a day, and if this describes you, I wan to emphasize that the findings that you are at undue risk for death are -- there is no other word for it -- compelling.) To take the equivalent of 10,000 steps a day can be done by swimming, running, dancing, weight lifting; even yoga and a host of other ways of moving vigorously."
If you have a goal this fall to lose weight or get in shape, don't fall prey to the many restrictive diets or diet challenges; find an activity you enjoy, with a friend or group of friends; hire a personal trainer (I know a great one!); check your local community education newspaper for fun classes; buy yourself some new shoes and get out walking; or if you're not ready to take action and want help creating an action plan, hire a wellness coach (I know one of those too! Who knew?!)
There's no reason to long for health, energy, and well being - it's right there for the taking. Grab it!
Learner and sharer of all things healthy, active, esteem building, growth promoting, witty and Hawaiian