As we near the end of the Lenten season, I was reminded of the first thing I ever deprived myself of for this Holy period; it was sugar in my coffee. In 2008, in an attempt to find something relatively meaningful to me, yet not TOO difficult, I decided I would try to forego the 2ish teaspoons of sugar in my morning ritual. Frankly, I wavered on how long that endeavor would last for a week to 10 days, but rather quickly I truly did not miss it. Eight years later, I still haven’t had another grain of sugar in my coffee and can’t even fathom it!
By my calculations, if you assume one teaspoon of sugar equals 16 calories and 3,400 calories equals 1 pound, over the past 8 years I have “prevented” the addition of 41.22 pounds to my body weight; this calculation is based on consuming 1.5 cups of coffee per day, perhaps a conservative estimate. Some scoff at these types of exercises and admittedly, sometimes when we give something up, we compensate (or overcompensate) in other ways, but this is one in which I am rather confident. I certainly do not add more sugar to other things to make up for this “loss.” Moreover, this move may have saved me even more; recent articles at www.todaysdietitian.com and www.zoeharcombe.com seem to indicate the “calories to weight” ratio is more likely 2,800 to 1, in which case I have saved myself over 50 pounds over the last eight years!
The above is but one example of little things we can all do to improve our health and fitness without taking Draconian measures. I fully recognize that one person’s “little thing” is another’s “big deal”, but think about it…even if I had simply cut back to one teaspoon of sugar rather than eliminating it, I would have eliminated 20 to 25 pounds. Our society is all about gratification these days, and instant gratification at that, but think about how gratifying it is to find one relatively minor thing you can do to enhance and/or prolong this precious gift of life. I literally feel as good and have as much or more energy today than I did when I was 18, and I think I can attribute at least some of this blessing to relatively small choices I have made over time.
In the coming days, we will talk about lots of steps one can take to get fit, trim down, feel better and the like, but for now here are a few things that have helped me considerably over the years:
- a spoon or two a day of natural peanut butter (no sugar or salt added)
- green tea, with a little local honey
- plenty of water with a little lemon or lime
- consider a personal fitness device (FitBit, Jawbone Up, Apple Watch, Vivofit)
- take the stairs
- park at the far end of the parking lot
- start “small” with cardio programs, whether it is running, walking or biking and gradually increase your regimen
- decrease your daily caloric intake by 100 calories and burn an extra 100 calories per day; by the conservative calculation above, you’ll lose 20+ lbs. in one year!
- SKIP FAST FOOD!!!
- actually THINK about every bite you put into your body
- grill rather than fry
- limit salt (and watch for “hidden” salt)
- get rid of “junk” in your refrigerator and pantry
- buy raw nuts and dry roast them yourself (with little or no salt)