If you are a member of the boomer generation then this is a must read. We are the first generation raised on fast food and suburban living. It has been a great run of cheese burgers, fries and driving everywhere we wanted to go. But tummy fat and growing health concerns are now the unintended consequences of our lifestyle.
As a Boomer I went searching for personal answers. The answers I found have helped me to lose twenty pounds and keep it off. I am on track to lose another ten pounds by year end. My secret sauce? I found that applying the same sustainability best practices I have successfully used in coaching businesses can be used to achieve sustained weight loss.
Easy to begin
From my business coaching I have found that the easier the change-path is to implement the more likely change will happen and will continue to happen. So my diet-focus is eating foods I like to eat that also help me lose weight. However, what I like to eat may not be what you like to eat. So my first suggestion is to get on your computer’s search engine and search for foods that are both good for you and that you think taste good. Use these foods as the foundation of your sustainability diet.
A second step is to do a computer search on foods that the health sciences say are not good for you (like you do not already know that eating manufactured foods and beverages are not good for human consumption over a long time period). The reality is that most of us have been eating manufactured foods and fast foods our entire lives. Stop now or face the health consequences plus the burden of increased health care costs.
I do not manage hunger very well. Most of us do not. The key to my diet’s success is that I eat a lot of food and I am not hungary. Under my diet when I get hungary I eat a banana or apple rather than cookies or nuts or something from the drive-through fast food pickup window. The only discomfort from this diet was during the first six months when my body went through withdrawals tied to the sugars, caffeine, fats, etc. I had become addicted to from eating manufactured foods.
Lose weight plus save money!
Are you approaching retirement and needing to downsize your daily expenditures? I believe I am saving money on this diet. Yes, the price of natural and organic foods can be higher though there is a growing amount of experiential advice out there like “how to eat organic for $5 per day.” Because I eat a lot less restaurant food and drink tap water rather than manufactured beverages I think I am saving money. Recognizing I am still eating a lot and not really trying to lower my costs to single digits I estimate my daily food cost is around $20-25 (except when I am traveling and I have to eat at restaurants). That is $20-25 per day and I am eating all I want and not being hungary!
Twenty minute walk everyday
The evidence is pretty conclusive that diet is only half the answer to losing weight. You have to exercise every day to lose weight and keep it off. The great news is that this can be achieved by just walking for twenty minutes every day. I wanted to be healthier faster so I added doing forty minutes of cardio every other day (riding my mountain bike about 10 miles). Wow, what a difference this has made in terms of weight loss. Plus I feel better about myself after my daily exercise.
You can sin and still lose weight sustainably
Let’s face it, self-sacrifice does not define our generation. I still have Happy Hour most days. I eat cookies, pies, biscuits and stuffing during the Holiday Season. My sinful behavior has a minimal impact on my annual weight loss goal. I gain a couple of pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year. I lose that weight plus another ten pounds during the year from eating sustainably and doing at least twenty minutes of daily exercise.
Sinning makes dieting a lot less stressful. When I began this diet I was all over my bathroom scale every week. It was a frustrating day when the scale did not show weight loss. Over time I came to understand that a sustainable diet succeeds because it is solving root cause problems created from eating industrial foods and living in my car. By sticking to sustainable actions that address the root cause problems my sustained weight loss just happens. Now I weigh once a month. Most months I lose a pound or two and over twelve months I lose at least ten pounds.
Boomer’s Sustainability Diet: Five Steps To Losing 20 Pounds
I designed this diet for my generation, the boomer generation. The diet consists of five “do this” and five “stop doing that” steps. Here are five action items that help me lose 20 pounds and kept them off!
Five “To Do’s”
1. Listen to the Millennial Generation and Generation Z. I began losing weight once I started acting on what my kids kept telling me about food. The millennials are the ones that began avoiding McDonald’s (and killing their sales). They also were the ones who discovered Chipotle (making it America’s most valuable restaurant chain) because Chipotle is sourcing their foods sustainably. Millennials think aging begins at twenty-five so they are constantly on social media looking for health ideas. I just wish I had listened to my millennial generation kids when they begged me to buy Apple at $50 per share!
2. Drink water. My friend and green expert, Scott Cooney, got me started on drinking water the first thing each morning. During most of my life I began my day running to the refrigerator for a can of Diet Coke to get my caffeine fix. WRONG. Now I drink eighteen ounces of tap water first thing in the morning. Then I have another eighteen ounces with breakfast. (Did you know that studies have found that tap water is just as safe as bottle water at a fraction of the cost?) Drinking water in the morning seems to increase my energy level. During the rest of the day I drink just tap water with the exception of having wine or beer at happy hour or dinner. Otherwise, I drink no manufactured drinks. I thought drinking fruit juices was good until my millennial generation kids explained to me that it was like drinking sugar. Now my kids have me doing smoothies made out of vegetables and they actually taste great.
3. Eat fish, chicken, avocados, apples, bananas, salad, tomatoes and broccoli. Most of the foods on this list are suppose to burn belly fat. Who knew? I choose them from doing research on what foods were healthy for me and healthier for our planet. Apples and bananas are my kill-the-hunger foods that I reach for between meals. I keep them stocked in my office, home and carry-on bag. I never skip breakfast. When I do I get really hungary and end up eating a super-sized sandwich and fries for lunch. For breakfast at home I eat smoked salmon, avocado slices and tomatoes. If I am traveling I try for egg whites or a chicken breast with fruit and yogurt. There is nothing magical about my list. You should create your own list. The core of your list should be foods you like to eat, that are low in artificial ingredients, sustainably-sourced and biased toward fruits and vegetables.
4. Walk 20 minutes non-stop every day. This is a must do. New research now concludes that inactivity kills more than obesity. Harvard Medical School reports that walking twenty minutes a day not only combats obesity but reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Walking three to five hours a week has been found to reduce by 50% the recurrence of female breast cancer. Get out there and walk non-stop at a rapid pace ten minutes one direction and then ten minutes back. Lunch is a perfect time for doing this because it also helps in reducing your work tensions. Walk at least twenty minutes everyday and you will be healthier and thinner.
5. Do cardio for 20 minutes at least every other day. Cardio is your body’s ability to push oxygen throughout your body. You build cardio by pushing your heart rate up to its top quartile for twenty minutes. So pick an exercise like jogging, swimming or in my case, riding my mountain bike. Give yourself forty minutes. The first ten I use to do stretching exercises and light pedaling. Then go for it non-stop for twenty minutes but stop immediately if you are in real pain. After twenty minutes do a ten minute cool down of slower paced exercise. Traveling really messes up this routine. If you are on the road for more than a couple of days then figure out what to pack and get your cardio workout. It is that important.
Try it for yourself and your kids
What about those five “to-do’s” can you not implement? This diet fulfills our boomer desire to never grow old while still having fun. These actions do require change but no pain. They do take some time, about 20-40 minutes a day in exercising. We will watch more minutes of advertising during the Super Bowl. My experience from implementing these five action items is that I have lost weight, I am saving money compared to eating industrial foods and beverages and I still enjoy happy hour. Doing cardio and getting an endorphin rush helps me feel better about myself and life. This diet also makes me feel good that I am adopting a lifestyle aligned with my millennial generation kids’ focus upon having a sustainable future.
Boomer Sustainability Diet And What Not To Do
What we have been eating our entire lives have gotten us into this situation where we are overweight and confronting serious health challenges. Here is the list of five things you just have to stop eating if you are going to achieve sustained weight loss and improved health.
Five “cease and desist” action items
1. No fast food. No McDonalds, no Subway and no Pizza Hut. Fast food is not sustainably sourced. It is full of chemicals because the food has to travel on average 1,500 miles to reach the cash register. It is loaded with sugar and salt. I fought my millennial kids forever over this one but once I stopped eating fast foods I began to lose weight.
2. No sandwiches. Today’s bread is laced with chemicals, sugar and salt. I just stopped eating bread and I lost weight. The hardest part was to stop eating sandwiches. Sandwiches are what we eat most of the time at breakfast and lunch. Stop it! I eat lunch at Asian restaurants so I can order chicken and broccoli (no fortune cookie!). A lot of my lunches are chicken or fish with salad. I put salsa on my salads rather than salad dressing because I like how it tastes and it doesn’t have sugar or fat in it like most dressings. Not eating sandwiches is hard to do in our culture. However, the extra effort of avoiding sandwiches is a key best practice in achieving sustainable weight lose.
3. No sugary or artificially sweetened drinks. This might be the number one action you can take to sustainably lose weight. This industry has corrupted our diet with all-you-can-drink self-serving restaurant fountains, super-sized cups and promotional 24-can packaging. Research now finds that artificial sweeteners in “diet” sodas may have zero calories but they still mess with our body’s chemistry in ways that add pounds. My push to break my addiction to Diet Coke came after missing a six month teeth cleaning due to a relocation. My teeth turned brown during this gap in teeth cleanings. I asked the hygienist why and they asked if I drank Coke. At the time I was drinking 24-36 ounces of Diet Coke per day. Apparently just that amount will damage the color of your teeth. Imagine what else it is doing to your body. I stopped drinking Coke that day and have not looked back. I believe this is a major step in my achieving permanent weight loss.
4. No red meat. I was raised on meat and potatoes. A t-bone steak is my favorite food item. I stopped eating red meat over concerns that today’s cows are raised on hormones and steroids. When I stopped eating red meat I began to feel better with more energy after a meal.
5. Make fried food a treat, not a norm. I have lived in the South for half my life. Eating fried everything was my diet. What tastes better than fried chicken with fried green tomatoes and fried Okra? But fried food is fattening. Now I eat french fries as a treat about once a week along with a fish taco salad. I devour my wife’s fried chicken but out of respect for my diet she only cooks it a few times during the year. Get over it my Southern friends. Think of fried food as a treat and not a norm.
Your sustainable diet will help the planet
Eating sustainably will do more than help you lose weight. It will help you reduce your impacts upon our environment. You will reduce your packaging waste stream by reducing your consumption of industrial foods (fewer cans, bottles, plastic containers and single-use plastic bags). Cow production produces approximately 20% of our planet’s global warming emissions so eating less or no red meat will reduce climate changing emissions. Drinking water rather than soda saves water because it takes four units of water to produce one unit of soda.
The more you learn the more concerned you will become
The more you investigate how to live sustainably the more aware you will become of how badly the mass-marketed industrial food industry has skewed the link between food and human health. For example, I encourage the eating of more fish and chicken as an alternative to eating red meat. But there is no black and white line to be drawn. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a list of super green fish. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “Super Green List,” fish that are low in mercury and also good sources of especially healthy “long-chain” omega-3 fatty acids include Atlantic mackerel from Canada and the U.S., freshwater Coho salmon from the U.S., wild-caught Pacific sardines and Alaskan wild-caught salmon (fresh or canned). This leaves obvious health questions about eating “non-super green” fish. While my Boomers’ Sustainability Diet is built upon keeping it simple the more you learn the more you realize that executing a sustainable diet is a struggle in our industrial-food based economy.
Sustainability is the solving of root cause problems
Solving root cause problems defines sustainability. Successfully implemented, sustainability delivers benefits for people, planet and the economy. My experiences are that adopting sustainability to my diet and lifestyle helped me to lose weight, feel better, be healthier, reduce my environmental footprint and save money. Exactly the type of solutions we boomers need!
Bill Roth is an economist and the Founder of Earth 2017. He coaches business owners and leaders on proven best practices in pricing, marketing and operations that make money and create a positive difference. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles business case studies of pioneering best practices that are proven to win customers and grow product revenues. Follow him on Twitter: @earth2017