Q&A: If I exercise, can’t I eat anything I want?

Man-with-AppleQuestion: I think I am at a good weight and I exercise regularly because frankly, I want to eat what I want. Is this a safe strategy as long as I don’t carry excess weight?

Answer: I have a few concerns when I’m faced with this question. First of all, many people are wearing rose-colored glasses when they evaluate their weight. They compare themselves with others of the same age, which is not really a valid benchmark. So, my first suggestion is to visit the Free Resources page on my website for an article on calculating your ideal weight. It might surprise you to find that what you consider ok may still be problematic.

Secondly, many people’s perspective of routine exercise may be skewed. Walking, biking, gardening, and any number of casual exercises are often touted as great “extra calorie burners.” But unless your exercise of choice raises your heart rate consistently for 30 minutes, 5-6 days a week, you are not protecting your heart. Please see my recent blog post called, “I am Going to Huff and Puff to Help My Heart” (December 11, 2014) for clarification.

And finally, we have all heard of a marathon runner dying of a heart attack while running – this is someone of ideal weight and certainly getting enough exercise. But what is likely is that the foods eaten were full of the saturated fat that caused LDL cholesterol splinter blockage in the arteries. Even if you burn off the calories from these dangerous foods, your body still has to process the LDL. The best advice is to never put them into your body to begin with.

Additionally, a routine cholesterol test can give a resounding answer to the truest health of your heart. Be aware that 85% of everyone over the age of fifty has some significant blockage in the arteries of their heart, without experiencing any symptoms. Also, studies of twenty-five-year-old individuals who were killed in battle or died in traffic accidents show that up to 60 percent of them already had some visual evidence that this blockage process was beginning in their arteries.

I consulted with a 38 year old football coach who exercised regularly, appeared in great shape, and was actually at his calculated ideal weight.   But his cholesterol was one of the highest I had ever seen! He had two of the three lifestyles under control, but his eating habits placed him into a danger zone for a heart attack. An additional concern is that his father had heart trouble in his fifties. This coach wanted to “be around for my children,” and was willing to do anything toward this goal. He committed to the Prescription for Life eating lifestyle. In two months his cholesterol numbers were completely normal. One of his friends was astounded and stated, “I cannot get coach to eat a single French-fry. He’s completely given up fried foods among other things.”

All three lifestyles work together 1) Weight Loss 2) Exercising and 3) Eating the Right Foods. The intertwining of the three determines the overall outcome. Just like the saying “a half truth is still a lie,” two out of three lifestyles can still contribute to premature disability or death. Commitment to the Prescription for Life plan includes all three lifestyles to insure the youngest physiological age as you possibly can have. But remember, the quality of those years matter too. My prescription is to focus on quality of life as well as length.





“Man with Apple” photo courtesy of imagerymajestic at freedigitalphotos.net