With the New Year upon us, many men across the country are making resolutions for how they want to change in 2009. A good portion of men are likely making a commitment to get healthy and lose weight. These men certainly have a lot of information at their fingertips to help them accomplish this goal. Flip through the pages of any men’s health magazine, or stroll the diet section of your neighborhood bookstore, and you will see tons of articles and books claiming to impart the secret to finally shedding your large belly. Their formulas for success always include some combination of downing protein shakes, eating every three hours, cutting carbs, and trying the new crazy awesome super fat-burning fitness routine of the month.
With the treasure trove of information available on diet and fitness in this modern age, you would think that men today would generally be far fitter and trimmer than their forbearers. But as we all know, that isn’t the case. Paradoxically, as health information has increased, so have our guts. Instead of helping men get healthy, the cacophony of new studies and diet recommendations have distracted men from understanding that maintaining a healthy and manly physique is really quite simple. Your grandfather never spent his time measuring out a piece of chicken breast the size of his palm or researching new exercises to work his core. He was too busy working, raising a family, and enjoying life. His physique happened naturally. And so should yours.
Kate’s grandfather, George Novak, is 89 years old.
Brett’s grandfather, Bill Hurst, is 93 years old.
Neither has ever been overweight and they’re both still going strong. Here are their “secrets” to longevity and good health. Truthfully, if your goal is to get chiseled or ripped, you need to follow a rigorous diet and fitness plan, but if you’re simply overweight and want to whittle your waistline to an average size, then Gramps has the secrets to success.
1. Don’t eat anything that comes in a box, tube, or bag. If your great-grandfather wouldn’t have recognized it as food, then it’s not fit for consumption. Stay away from packaged foods, filled with all sorts of preservatives and additives that allow them to sit on a shelf and stay good for a year. Not only are these additives not good for you, companies formulate their foods to bypass your natural hunger/satiety signals and keep you munching past the point of natural fullness.
Instead, base your diet around fresh, whole foods. Your grandfather ate eggs, sausage, bacon, oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch (made with homemade bread and real mayonnaise), and pot roast for dinner. He downed glasses of whole milk, put pats of real butter on his bread, and dove into plates of real potatoes covered with real gravy. The food our grandpas bought from the local grocer was supplemented with produce grown in their backyard gardens. They enjoyed the satisfaction of putting on the table that which they grew themselves. Our grandfathers understood where their food came from and were grateful for it. Do as your grandfather did by skipping the processed junk, tending a garden, and maintaining a connection to your food.
2. Pile on the protein and fats. Grandpa would have thought a Snackwell’s fat-free cookie was a space rock fallen from the skies. He ate protein with every meal-bacon and eggs with breakfast, turkey sandwiches for lunch, and meatloaf for dinner. Recent studies have disproven the theory that saturated fat is bad for you; it’s refined carbs that will truly bring about your downfall. Eating fat and protein boosts your testosterone levels; no wonder Gramps was always ready to swing an axe or shoot an elk. Protein provides muscle building nutrients and keeps you satiated for hours. Dig in.
3. Stop eating on the run and sit down for real meals. The formula for easily and naturally maintaining a healthy weight is simple: eat when hungry, stop when full. Unfortunately, faced with the rushed pace of life and a myriad of distractions, men have lost touch with their delicate hunger/satiety signals. Men today are constantly eating on the go, barely tasting their food as they scarf down Big Macs in the car or inhale Pop Tarts while dashing out the door. Your grandfather ate regular, leisurely meals. He ate all his meals at a real table, with real plates and forks, surrounded by family and friends. He ate slowly and made time for conversation. The television was never on. He wasn’t checking his Blackberry or texting his friends. Your grandpa took time to taste his food. He sensed when he was full and stopped eating. Do as your grandfather did and make your meals a special time to enjoy good food and good company.
4. Control your portion size. Gramps never had lists of forbidden foods, measured his food on a scale, or used a calculator to decipher the correct proportion of carbs, fats, and protein in each meal. He ate the food he was hungry for. How did he avoid getting a gut? Simple: eating normal size portions. Eating normal portions has become increasingly difficult in this modern day. Restaurants and food manufacturers have been increasing portion sizes so that what was once “large” for your grandpa, is a “small” for you. Check out this article on how portion sizes have changed.
You don’t have to cut any food completely out of your diet; you do have to eat in moderation. Moderation is not a punch bowl sized salad from the Cheesecake Factory or a burger that needs to be hoisted up to your mouth with a crane. Grandpa Hurst went out to lunch every day, but he wasn’t served a plate the size of a garbage pail lid. When sitting down to dinner at home, fill your plate with average-sized portions, and then don’t go back for seconds. When going out to eat, it’s often recommended that you put half of it in a to-go box. The reality is that you’re not going to want to place half that burger in a doggie bag; countless studies have shown that the human instinct to clean one’s plate is practically irresistible. The best route is to convince your dining partner to split something with you. Portion control is thus automatic.
Of course your grandpa moved around a lot, too, which helped him stay in tip top shape. If you’re looking for a good old fashioned “fitness routine,” check out the Uncle Buzz Workout.