Monday, July 14, 2014


Taking time for your own health is important

Nothing can take the place of healthy eating and physical activity. Nothing.

Instead of thinking in terms of “diets” you need to think in terms of lifestyle change. At its very core, weight loss comes down simply to the balance between how many calories you consume and how many calories you burn each day.

Fad diets often work temporarily because of a gimmick that helps you to severely restrict calories for a short time. However, because calories are so significantly restricted, these diets become very difficult to maintain over the long haul and you eventually return to your old eating habits. What’s worse is that you often regain even more weight than you initially lost because you squandered lean body mass (your body’s calorie-burning powerhouse) in your crash-dieting extremism. 

Perhaps instead of looking for a miracle diet, you should consider what is holding you back from eating well and exercising regularly. Family commitments? Lack of time? Poor motivation? Stress? An old pinky injury from back in ’82? (Believe me, I have heard them all.)
Once you have determined what your barriers are, ponder for a moment why you are letting them hold you back. Quite often, our barriers — at their heart — stem from the fact that we don’t feel our health is important enough to make a priority. We are busy at work, or we have to help our kids with their homework, or we must take our mother to her doctor’s appointment. We feel that these things take precedence over our own needs, and that taking time for ourselves is selfish.

It isn’t! The truth is, the only way to be genuinely successful in losing weight and keeping it off is to start by loving yourself enough to put a priority on your own basic needs. And they are needs — make no mistake. 

We all need to eat well and be physically active if we are to be our best selves. Once we begin to view these things as non-negotiable necessities, we start to find ways to blast through the barriers.

We take a 15-minute walk on our break time instead of obsessing over emails — they will still be there in 15 minutes and the fresh air will probably help you to better concentrate on them when you get back anyway. We set up a schedule for helping our kids with their homework and let them do more of it on their own – after all, we want to teach them to be self-reliant don’t we? We double the recipe for what we are cooking the day before our mother’s appointment so that we have a healthy meal waiting for us when we get home later that evening. 

A focused mind is a powerful thing, indeed. So put your focus on health and you will see the obstacles that you once thought insurmountable become mere pebbles in the road. We are here for such a short time and each breath is such a precious gift. Don’t settle for poor health or even feeling just “OK.” True wellness affords us the chance to fully enjoy life and realize our own potential.

When you think about it, don’t you deserve that?

Jennifer Fetterley is a registered dietitian for the Backus Health System and Thames Valley Council for Community Action. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal healthcare provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Fetterley or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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