While Americans expend fewer calories at work, they spend more time in cars — almost twice as much as in the 1970s. They spend 26 hours per week consuming TV or online entertainment. Americans could theoretically compensate for more sedentary lifestyles by stepping up their recreational exercise — but only about 20% of Americans bother. Some 80% never do — including presumably all those failed dieters. (CNN)
If you, like me, read this article and nod your head, then you, like me, understand why it is getting harder and harder to lose those extra pounds (or kilograms) each year. And I have to admit, I would certainly like to. I started last year by cutting back my intake of the sugary sodas (no, I will not start drinking Diet Coke….for starters, I don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners and I am not about to replace something natural for something artificial. It is better to just go without), but clearly I have not cut back enough so this year will see me cut back more. Of course, what I really need to give up is my Starbucks habit and my wine habit. So I am going to try. We will see what happens. If nothing else, forgoing Starbucks should save me close to $100 a month, so that should be incentive enough right?
But it is more than giving up, as our beloved politicians should begin to realize about ten minutes after they are sworn into office. It is also about increasing energy output. My job is sedentary. I sit in front of a screen for at least 8 hours a day and I spent another two (on average) driving from point A to point B. I used to get a good walk in as part of my daily commute, but now, I do not even get that. So I need to find an excuse to get off my butt and get moving. I will admit that I am not a gym person. Maybe it is the 20+ years I spend going to the pool every day, but getting me to a gym to lift weights and cycle to no where is not going to motivate me to get more active, which makes it even harder to get active. The normal activities of youth are no longer available and the traditional methods are so unmotivating that they are pointless, but I will have to find something, since buying new pants is not in my plan.
America is getting larger. And it is going to take more than willpower and desire to reverse the trend. As Frum points out, changing this will require a great deal of effort. Effort beyond the simple idea of getting off our backsides and at least going for a walk.