Being Overweight is a Learned Habit, Not a Choice

It is remarkable to find how many people eat out of boredom, sheer habit, or to the accompaniment of a newspaper, a book, or a heated business discussion. Many succumb to the habit of eating at a “minute” diner, fast food restaurant or lunch counter, gulping their food and running a “hoof and mouth” race with Father Time. (He always wins.)

Others are trained from childhood to stuff themselves—”finish your plate” (An old relic of primitive days when food scarcities or the uncertainties of a next meal or a next day were constantly present). Some call this “scavenger eating;” many children acquire this habit by imitating their parents who are imitating their parents who may have been raised under food scarcity circumstances.

Many men and women are the victims of monotony or plain poor cooking in their meals. They rarely vary the selection and choice of foods out of sheer inertia, indifference, or lack of attention. So they try to make up in quantity what they lack in quality, seeking satisfaction from calories instead of from quality and contrast.

Dr. Arthur Master, in a study of a group of patients not suffering from heart disease, found that a significant loss of weight was followed by an average 35 per cent reduction in the work the heart has to do. The lesson to you is clear: Even though your heart is strong, being overweight taxes it with work and strain beyond its normal capacity. A healthy heart is gradually weakened by the extra stress imposed on it by 20, 30 or 40 pounds of unnecessary fat.

Your energy reserves are depleted; you feel tired too soon and too often, even when doing simple things like walking and swimming, things that the person of normal weight can handle with ease and pleasure. Don’t let too much weight rob you of a strong heart and the vibrant energy that you need to enjoy a full, healthy life. Learn to count your calories and you can count on more years of healthy, happy living.

We must remember that in the past 50-100 years there has been a considerable reduction in energy expenditure, because of a more mechanized way of life. People today don’t have to go out to the barn and hitch up a horse or team or count on a long walk when they are ready to go somewhere. They merely step into their car, which is as close to the front door as they can manage it, and then drive to their destination, again parking as near the entrance as possible.

The introduction of countless labor-saving devices in our home, factories, and
offices has also robbed us of most of the physical exertion our grandparents and great-grandparents knew. In fact, when it comes to conserving energy, we seem to have approached about as near as we can get to a vegetable existence.

The message is clear; we must break our old bad habits and develop new good ones if we want to lose weight. Making healthier food choices whenever possible, watching our portions at mealtime, and getting in some exercise regularly are paramount if we want to keep our weight down and live a long, healthy, happy life.

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