Quit Making Unhealthy Compromises
Every day we make unhealthy compromises due to our hectic schedule. At the time, these unhealthy compromises seem trivial but when multiplied over the course of a day, a month, or even a year they really add up! Compromises are great when it comes to the national budget, who gets to use the restroom first, who gets to drive….etc. but when it comes to our health they can be deadly!
We all make these compromises, every one of us, we just need to understand that unhealthy compromises lead to poor health.
Convenient Unhealthy Compromises
The harsh reality is that the majority of these quick and convenient foods contain trans fat. These are made by hydrogenating oil from a liquid to a solid state so it doesn’t spoil as fast (Ascherio & Willett 1997).
Let’s go along with your typical American male (Bill) on what turns out to be the typical American day, filled with fast food, super busy schedule, and a load of compromises.
We catch up with Bill as he starts his Tuesday mornings.
6:17 am: Rolling out of bed, Bill is blurry-eyed and still tired from too little sleep: “I hate that stupid alarm…5 more minutes! (5 minutes later) Just 5 more minutes! (5 minutes later) Fine #%&@! Ugh, I need coffee stat, probably a double shot, it’s too late for breakfast anyways.
I need to be on the road by 6:45, I’ll just swing by Starbucks and grab some Joe and pastries. Next Monday I’ll start getting up earlier and make my own breakfast!”
-It’s amazing how getting up too late can affect your entire day. This moment starts an entire snowball effect throughout the rest of the day full of health trade-offs and compromises. Starting your day with sweets that are loaded with trans fat is just awful.
The FDA estimated that almost 95% of cookies and snack cakes contain trans fat! The picture below is what a diet high in things such as trans fat can do to your arteries! The constriction of blood flow is scary to think about!
In a recent study, it only took 24 weeks for mice to show adverse effects of a diet rich in trans fat with marked atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries, associated with coronary heart disease) (Chen et al 2011). That’s only half a year, just think if you’ve been eating fast food off and on your entire life!
The moral of the story, start the day off properly and AVOID trans fat, plus it will save you a ton of money not buying breakfast everyone morning at Starbucks!
9:49 am: Inside Bill’s office: “Well those three snack cakes sure aren’t keeping me full, friggin hungry again! Sweet job Starbucks… There is no way in Hell I can make it until lunch break. Yes, I can…no I can’t….yes I can……(7 seconds later)…I’m just going to check out the vending machine to see if they have any healthy snacks.”
-Bless his heart, like most people Bill actually wants to be healthy and strives to do so.
His only downfall are the compromises he made earlier in the day that has brought him to this point: starving after being at work less than two hours.
9:53 am: Standing outside the vending machine: “Let’s see, they got powdered doughnuts, those are sort of breakfast food so they’re probably healthy…Nah I’ll pass. What else? Oh man, there are Doritos! Too bad I’m not in the mood for a nacho cheese rush, they are awesome though. Boom! Chocolate trail mix, healthy and nutritious!” Bill turns and walks away, 5 steps later he does a 180: “I better grab two.”
Bless his heart, he really is trying! The bad news is that most things in your office vending machine are loaded with sodium and sugar to help preserve them.
Take for instance Bill’s trail mix, it has a large amount of sodium and is usually loaded with sugar for preservation. Some fruit from home would have been easier and more healthy, plus cost you less (considering you already have it).
10:58 am: After hammering the trail mix, Bill feels content for barely an hour: “God I’m hungry, guess I shouldn’t have skipped breakfast. I really need to start listening to what I read on Always Active Athletics (sorry for the shameless plug). Oh well, I’ll wake up earlier next Monday and make breakfast and bring a couple of snacks with me, but right now I’m hungrier than a hostage.
It’s close enough to lunchtime, screw it I’m going to swing by the burger joint.”
11:31 am: Outside the Tantalizing-Tater’s pick-up window: “Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten a #5. This looks like a crap-load of food. I mean it’s a triple cheeseburger….but it’s cool, I only got a small fries and a medium diet soda with it. That negates the burger, right? I’m going with yes.”
12:01 pm: Back at his desk Bill commences to demolish the hamburger and feels like a man doing it: “I should of super-sized that,” Bill thinks sadly. Poor Bill 🙁
There’s really no need in explaining where Bill went wrong here. If you can’t bring a lunch to work there are some other healthy food joints you can go to. Skip the Tantalizing-Tater which will help you avoid trans and even saturated fats!
Trans fat has been linked to cancer, obesity, diabetes, immune system deficiency, and of course heart disease. Ordering a #5 is basically saying, “Uh yeah, I’ll take type-II diabetes, with a side of heart disease, and…uh what to drink…uh I’ll have a medium shot of obesity with that.” Sign-me up!
Bill could have prepped some meals earlier in the week that could have substituted this terrible meal…another health compromise Bill made because he was too busy.
In hindsight, heart disease and diabetes are better than taking 30 minutes on Sunday to make your lunches for the week…
2:34 pm: Sitting in his office Bill is very content, minding his own business. From outside his door, he hears, “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you!” Bill goes to investigate: “OH. MY. GOD. CAKE! I’ll just take a small…two small pieces!” (In Bill’s defense, it’s very hard to pass up on office bday cake).
Unexpected circumstances really can throw off your nutrition. Bill did not plan for this and it really wasn’t his fault that this got put in front of him. What was his fault is that he allowed himself to get carried away and have multiple pieces. Don’t forget, around 95% of cookies and cakes include trans fat.
4:03 pm: Bill heads out early (he can, he’s the boss) to hit up the gym and grabs a couple of cookies off of the receptionist’s desk on his way out: “For the road! Just two will hold me over until supper.”
-How on Earth is Bill possibly hungry after eating all of that? If you’ll notice all of the goods Bill has consumed were basically empty calories.
Hardly any fiber or complex carbohydrates. If Bill would have eaten a meal full of slow-digesting carbs like potatoes, beans, or binged out on veggies he wouldn’t be hungry yet and once again he wouldn’t be consuming cookies and their accompanying trans fat! Another thing to note, have you noticed Bill hasn’t really consumed any water the entire day? Drinking plenty of fluids (body weight divided by two = ounces to drink a day).
Drinking plenty of water can satiate your appetite and prevent fatigue-related dehydration.
If you are feeling hungry drink a large amount of water to satiate you for a while.
4:23 pm: Outside his local gym: “Crap! I didn’t bring my headphones, there is no way I can work out today. This is a travesty, I was really, sorta, kinda, not really looking forward to working out! Maybe I can go without it…..I won’t be motivated…I need to work out though….there’s always tomorrow…I have to, I’m getting love handles on top of my love handles….but I don’t have any music. How about I just do extra cardio tomorrow. Great compromise, problem solved!”
Another compromise is due to his busy lifestyle. It’s easy to make excuses not to work out if you are crunched for time or tired for that matter. You forgot your headphones, you didn’t take your supplements, your socks don’t’ match, we all use excuses at some point in time.
Due to Bill’s terrible diet, it is imperative that he gets in some heart-pumping exercise. It has been proven that exercise is just as effective as medication at preventing coronary heart disease (Ornish et al 1990).
Try to get at least 30 minutes of medium-high intensity exercise each day! Anything is better than nothing!
6:13 pm: Bill and his family sit down for a wonderfully balanced meal full of vegetables, protein, and fruits! Even Bill eats healthy when he has TIME: “This is amazing, seems like years since I’ve had fruit, it even tastes good! I need to eat like this every meal! No worries, I’ll start next Monday!”
-When we aren’t rushed the majority of us try to be relatively healthy and take care of ourselves. It’s when life takes over and we get crunched for the time we turn to convenient, unhealthy alternatives! Just think of all the compromises you make because you are too busy? They add up and they can really negatively affect your health.
Have you been crushing hamburgers, pizzas, and cookies your whole life? Well, you are pretty much screwed…only joking (note: nothing but gross pictures to try to scare you into not eating trans fats).
Never fear, if your diet has been heavy in trans fat to this point there is a reason for optimism and the reversal of damages done by trans fat. You can get better, if you drop the trans fat and switch to a healthier diet you can reduce and even minimize the signs of atherosclerosis (Chen et al 2011).
By implementing diet and exercise you can reverse or minimize any coronary heart disease damage that has been associated with your previous diet!
We should never be too busy to be healthy, starting today!
We make these compromises because they are convenient. What if you make healthy nutrition and working out convenient? We would be more inclined to stick to the routine even during times of chaos in our lives. Here are some quick nutritional and exercises tips to get compromising in a healthy manner:
- Always be stocked up with fruit – nothing is easier to munch on than a piece of fruit. Have these at home and at the office.
- Always be stocked up on unsalted nuts – once again these make a great, nutritious snack when you are on the go, at home, or at the office.
- Eggs in the morning – I sound like a broken record here but if Bill would have had a nutritious breakfast, his entire day could have been different.
- Water bottle full and handy – keep your water bottle full and close by. When you start to get the urge to eat, slam some water. At least it will keep you hydrated!
- You should never be starving – unless you are seriously trying to get into the low single-digit body fat percentages, you shouldn’t need to be starving or hungry. Eat so many quality foods (veggies, fruits, good-proteins) that you won’t want and dessert. Find a convenient, healthy lifestyle that works for you!
- Skip the cardio – if you are pinched for time, just do resistance training. You will see better results and it will save you a lot of time.
- Circuits – combine both cardio and strength training all into one workout to save time if you really feel like you need to get cardio in.
- 4 Minute RampUp – this is for the people who are uber pinched for time. This is a great way to ramp up your metabolism in only 4 minutes. Full details: click here.
- At-home training – by combining bodyweight training into circuit training along with the 4 Minute RampUp you can literally get the results you want from the comforts of your own home! Saving you time and money on a gym membership!
Drop the compromises and the convenience of living an unhealthy life and try to implement a convenient healthy lifestyle.
It really only takes small steps in the right direction to get you where you want to be: drop trans fat from your diet, cut out sugary, empty-calorie drinks, and start a sustainable diet that you can follow.
Implementing these three steps will get you on the right path! I highly doubt clogged arteries are convenient.
Or you can be like Bill where there is always next Monday! Next Monday Bill, next Monday!
Ascherio A, Willett WC (1997) Health effects of trans fatty acids. Am J Clin Nutr 66: 10065-10105.
Ornish D, Brown SE, Scherwitz LW, Billings JH, Armstrong WT, Ports TA, McLanahan SM, Kirkeeide RL, Brand RJ, Gould KL. (1990) Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? The lifestyle heart trial. Lancet 336 (8708): 129–133.
Chen CL, Tetri LH, Neuschwander-Tetri BA, Huang SS, Huang JS (2011) A mechanism by which dietary trans fat causes atherosclerosis. J Nutr Biochem 22:649-655.