Tag Archives: unhealthy

12 Days of Fitness 2018: Day 11 – What Does It Mean to be Healthy?

(This is part 11 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word ‘healthy’? Some may visualize a lean person perhaps with ripped abs or shapely muscles. Others conjure up images of perceived healthy foods, like broccoli, chicken, Greek yogurt, nuts, and kale. Now, let me ask another question. What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘unhealthy’? Do you visualize someone unkept and overweight? I think most of you would come up with a list of food that contains some or all of the following: fast food, carbs, trans fats, processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, soda, etc. Regardless of what you pictured when you thought about each word, you are right… and wrong.

Understanding Context

I’m really not a fan of the terms healthy/unhealthy. More often than not they are used without proper context. Most times they are used as click-bait by editors in headlines to get you to read what they have to say. Instead I find it very important to understand not only what they mean, but also what they mean in the context in which they are used. The problem with words like ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy,’ is that they are thrown around with little thought given to context or understanding. They are used to scare or force you into making decisions without fully thinking it through.

Healthy Does Not Equal Fat Loss

One of the most common diet approaches when it comes to fat loss is just ‘eating healthy’. And while this approach is undertaken with the best of intentions, it often sets the dieter up for failure, for a number of reasons. The biggest one being that most people can’t agree on what eating healthy really is! The problem with labeling foods as healthy vs. unhealthy is that it forces people to see them as either good or bad. And that can create a dangerous relationship with food. When you limit what you can eat while dieting, you greatly increase the chances that the diet will fail. The more severely we restrict our food choices the greater stress we place on ourselves, and the harder the fat loss process will be. Yes we should limit our consumption of certain foods but notice I said limit, not eliminate. There is room in everyone’s diet for a reasonable amount of ‘unhealthy’ foods, even when fat loss is the goal. The important thing is not classifying foods as ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy,’ ‘good’ or ‘bad’; but rather being able to identify which foods you should limit, which ones you should eat more often, and which foods will move you closer to your goals.

The Huge Scam

Another problem is the big ‘health food’ push by food companies. They know that people are becoming more conscious about what they are putting in their bodies, and are producing new products as a response. But trust me, they do not have your best interests at heart. Large food companies know that a vast majority of the population fall into the trap of ‘Eat healthy, lose weight’. And they take advantage of this. For almost every food item available, there is at least one (if not more) ‘healthy’ alternative. And most, not all, aren’t that much different than the ‘unhealthy’ version. They usually will contain about the same amount of calories, less fat or carbs, more sodium, more sugar or artificial sweeteners, and of course, cost more. These companies bank on the fact that a majority of people don’t read food labels or serving sizes, and that they will see the fancy packaging with the words ‘Healthy,’ ‘Low-fat,’ ‘Low-carb,’ ‘All-Natural,’ or some other meaningless marketing nonsense and purchase it because its quote ‘better’ for them. More often than not, there’s nothing inherently wrong with these foods. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from purchasing them if that’s what they want. But what I don’t want are people purchasing them because they think it will help with fat loss. Because then you are just wasting your money.

Context (and Calories) Are King

When classifying foods, context is king. What better context to classify things other than calories?  ‘Healthy’ food, just like ‘unhealthy’ food, has calories. Regardless of what type of food you are eating, if you eat more calories than you burn, you will not lose fat. 3,000 calories from chicken, brown rice, nuts and yogurt is the same to the body from an energy-in standpoint as 3,000 calories from pizza, beer, and ice cream. It’s still 3,000 calories. No one would probably consider those first food options unhealthy but if your goal is fat loss and you are eating so much of these foods that you are gaining weight, would that really be ‘healthy’? A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, at least from an energy-in/energy-out point of view. You cannot lose fat if you are not in a caloric deficit, no matter how ‘healthy’ you are eating. If you are only burning 2,000 calories a day, but are consuming 3,000 from one of the options above, you will not lose fat; no matter which foods you are eating.

Quantity AND Quality

The quality of your food does play a role in reaching your fat loss goals and eating the right quantity of food will allow you to lose fat. But in order to have a well rounded diet; one that is rich in vitamins and minerals, that will help your body function properly, help you recover from workouts, and leaves you satiated and satisfied, it will have to mostly be made up of ‘healthy’, high quality foods. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for ‘unhealthy’ foods either. If you are flexible with your diet, work these things into your day, or a free meal, you can enjoy the occasional treat or indulgence if that’s what you want. And if you don’t enjoy these foods, or they don’t agree with you, then stick with the higher quality foods. There’s nothing wrong with either approach as long as at the end of the day, you are moving closer towards your goals. It’s about finding the right combination of moderation and balance. In the wrong amount any food, regardless of how you classify it, can be detrimental to your fat loss efforts. So know that if you are looking to lose fat, or struggling with your current efforts, just ‘eating healthy’ probably isn’t enough.

See you tomorrow for Day 12 and the conclusion of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.


Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Weight Loss Once and For All
Day #2 – 10 Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs to Work Out at Home
Day #3 – Are You Afraid of Eating Fruit?
Day #4 – Healthy Foods?
Day #5 – 21 Ways to Combat Emotional Eating
Day #6 – 8 Reasons Why Your Workout is Failing You
Day #7 – The Problem With Added Sugars
Day #8Dieting Made Simple
Day #9 – The Best Exercise You’re Probably Not Doing
Day #10 – Insulin and Insulin Resistance

Hurricanes, Earthquakes, and Poor Health…Oh My!!!!

storm-warningIt’s been an interesting week or so here in the northeast part of the country.  An unpredictable earthquake and a forecasted Hurricane Irene stole the limelight, and well, poor health can always make headlines.  But what similarities do all three have in common, or rather, what are the differences between them? Two are natural disasters; one is weather related and the other the result of shifting plates beneath the Earth’s surface; the other one is a preventable event.  I shouldn’t have to explain which is which but after observing the coverage and reaction to the natural disasters, it struck my attention that the other impending disaster needs more awareness.

What’s in a Word?

In one of my favorite movies of all time, Jaws, the mayor of Amity Island comments that it’s safer to say barracuda than shark when mentioning a reason for potentially closing a beach. His reasoning? Most people don’t associate barracuda with a man eating predator but when you say shark, people become hysterical. Certainly not to underplay the cause for concern with Hurricane Irene, but I always have found it interesting to see how people react to imposing, apparent danger versus the danger that confronts them everyday. For example, the person who’s afraid to fly yet gets into their car everyday; the person who smokes despite the warnings right on the package; the person who orders from the “healthy” meal at a fast food restaurant and follows it up with a fountain drink. A hurricane watch and then warning comes out and the grocery stores are bought out of water, bread, milk, etc. (just like with the winter storms here in the northeast in winter). TV coverage is overdone and overblown. Is it rational fear? Is it media propaganda? Is it survival tactics? Is it the blind leading the blind?  Regardless, imagine the result if poor health was forecasted and as covered as immensely as acts of nature.

A Stronger Forecast Perhaps

Imagine if we had the ability to forecast health like we attempt to forecast the weather.  Actually, there’s plenty of data and research, a sort of forecast, to indicate predictors and risk factors to avoid poor health.  Question is, do people care enough about their health as they do their material belongings that a natural disaster could wipe away? Perhaps some of these ideas would send a bigger message and give the media more drama to broadcast:

  • Despite all the risks and inherent health problems caused by smoking, let alone the rising cost of tobacco products, smoking continues to be a problem.  Perhaps a voucher could come with every pack of cigarettes for a free cancer cell that doesn’t expire until you do.
  • Obesity is a growing (no pun intended) problem in the country, and yet despite supposed economic woes and the effects being overweight has on one’s health, restaurants are packed with waiting lists. May be each restaurant should be equipped with a scale that weighs guests before they enter and for every pound overweight they are dollars are added to their entrée purchase.
  • When purchasing a fast food item of any kind, a map illustrating where and what you’re body does with it appears just before the transaction is made. Perhaps food items could be categorized as Category 1, 2, and so on indicating the strength of the damage they cause.
  • While sitting on the couch or making excuses for not having time to exercise, a meter shows how much time alive you’ve lost and how many days you have left.
  • When leaving the grocery store with a cart full of nutritiously devoid food, an alarm that shakes the entire store, measured like a Richter scale, alerting everyone to the amount of damage you plan on causing to your health.

These ideas may be far fetched and outrageous but the point I want to make is perhaps if the warning signs of poor health choices were more dramatic and broadcasted as diligently yet overdone as a hurricane, may be more people would take their health more seriously.  In the end, everyone has a choice and your decisions and outcomes are solely your responsibility.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.