The following are truths that I find hard to ignore: Fifteen percent of Americans go to a gym every year. Only 8 percent of those who have purchased contracts use their gym memberships. Yet Americans spend $2.6 billion a year in gym-related fees.
BlueCross® BlueShield® of Tennessee Inc. (BCBST), an independent, not-for-profit, health benefit plan company based in Chattanooga, is keenly aware that Tennessee has a health problem. And Memphis, recently dubbed the fattest city in America, could be considered the poster child for obesity.
With Memphis and other American cities sliding rapidly toward an epidemic, BCBST is standing in the gap, hoping to reduce the obesity rate with its sponsorship of the Healthy Church Challenge 100-day weight loss competition, which launched Feb. 2. This is the second year for the Challenge.
On Saturday (March 9), I observed many of the participants weighing in and working out vigorously at Mississippi Blvd. Christian Church. Yacqui Peete, a certified personal trainer with BIOMechaniks in Germantown, led them in a kickboxing workout, while I offered practical solutions to losing weight. I talked about nutrition and developing better eating habits.
Exercising and losing weight are essential for a healthier lifestyle. Dr. Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, said, "With 6 million new cases of diabetes, 5 million cases of heart disease and stroke, and more than 400,000 cases of cancer in the next 20 years, we are on a tragic course that would have a horrible impact on the quality of life of millions of Americans and could overwhelm an already overburdened health care system."
In 2007, the American Diabetes Association reported that a total of $174 billion a year was spent on diabetic care. In 2012, the new total for financing those requiring diabetes care rose to $245 billion. The figure was based on a projected five-year span.
People come in all shapes and sizes. Those who are overweight I'm certain are trying to overcome their weight problems, but to no avail. Some of them may be frustrated and in extreme cases, suicidal. I would venture to say these people are looking to overcome their weight problems.
I've talked to individuals all over the country, and some of them expressed fear of what others think about them – about their weight, for example. What are you afraid of? Do you feel if you are in good health and able to have a great life that people would begrudge you for it? I say who cares what others think.
With all that said, the bottom line is we are eating the wrong foods and it's causing the majority of our health problems. So what is really inside some of those food packages that are causing such uncontrollable binges that most likely will lead to weight gain?
Even with all the allowed trade secrets imposed on food manufacturers, they don't have to disclose or specifically name certain ingredients. It just leaves me wondering what is really in those packages. For example, when was the last time you bought an apple and it tasted just as sweet as 100 percent apple juice?
Again, I pose the question. Do you really know what you're eating? There is no doubt that it's food that's causing you to break out in a rash, eczema and IBS, for example. What about your unexplainable weight gain? It's the food that you're eating that's causing the problem and the additional pounds.
You should continue to strive to better your health, though. Don't be afraid to ask questions about what you are eating. Keep asking until you get an answer. After I finished my pitch about proper nutrition and healthy eating habits, I opened the floor up for questions.
The questioners were serious about losing weight. I was prepared nonetheless for the deluge. But most of the questions were similar. Some of them wanted to know about the fat content in certain foods, such as nuts. And they didn't realize they could gain weight at the salad bar. That's because most people load their salad with a fatty dressing.
The Healthy Church Challenge is a good start to a healthier lifestyle.