Just One Thing



In the movie City Slickers, the old trail boss Curly held up one finger to indicate what the secret to life was. By the end of the movie, Billy Crystal felt he understood. This week, I got my own meaning to Curly’s cryptic adage. It’s not so much what the one thing is, the point is that whatever it is, you focus on that one thing and give it its due attention. For me it gives me insight as to how to get a handle on my health issues.

Every time I get all fired up about getting my weight under control, my first focus has been on food. I have been part of several plans through the years that revolve around ways to limit the intake of calories. That’s the bottom line even though the various plans pretty much all come at it in their own way. They are all based on what we know is true: if we are taking in more calories than our body can use, the leftovers get stored as fat.

So that brings me to my point. It shouldn’t primarily be about less food, but the emphasis should be on working the body more—more exercise. That’s key for several reasons. The obvious one is that limiting the intake of calories to what we can burn makes sense. But it’s like putting the cart in front of the horses, as we used to say. The focus on increasing our physical exercise does burn calories but probably even more importantly, it has to do with exercise producing those feel-good endorphins.

In my most recent endeavors at weight loss, a good friend, who is also a health professional challenged me to listen to my body, to not just plunge into another weight-loss plan, or fad. Seemed silly, but I did as she suggested. What came to me is that exercise is, of course, very important, but I had been approaching it in a very mechanical way. I was going to the gym and using the treadmill when I was surrounded by more natural ways to get my walking in.

My dog, Annie, is a breed that requires a good deal of exercise to offset her tendency to anxiety.  I would often cut her walks short so I could rush to the gym. What I needed to do to rectify my plight while giving her better exercise as well, was to give her serious walks of not less than 30 minutes, which is usually a mile and a half at my pace. For the last week I have averaged over two miles a day. The bonus is that my walking route allows me to enjoy the lake with its Canada geese and ducks, the breeze rustling the tree leaves, saying hello to neighbors, and having more of my body involved in walking than when I am on the treadmill.

Then I began to notice that after I’ve had my daily walk, I seem more motivated to pay attention to what I was eating. I felt more power to be self-disciplined. That has to be the endorphins. So instead of struggling with the “diet” part, I think I am going to keep on putting the emphasis on the daily exercise routine and see how the rest of my health challenge plays out.

Regardless, I can’t lose putting the exercise before the food. Better exercise has already improved my blood pressure and my blood sugar readings. I can already tell that I am losing fat and gaining muscle with this regimen. In just one week my clothes aren’t as snug. Even on days that I am less faithful with the quality or quantity of calories I take in, the results are still good.

So, as Curly would say, I am going to focus on, “Just One Thing,” which is the key element that activates all the other parts. It keeps my mind and emotions away from all the emotional roller-coaster of fighting the food issue. So many of us have all kinds of trauma, drama tied in with food, and especially the fear of deprivation of it. I just—literally—walk around the issue, which has the effect of defusing that ticking bomb, reducing it simply to the basic fuel it was intended to be.

– Shari


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