Body Worry : Moderation: The Life-Changing Secret

"All eyes turned when the three hunks sauntered toward the bar, where, in magnificent, muscular unison, they downed mugs of fresh-squeezed carrot juice sprinkled with wheat germ."

I did not dream that line. The respected Seattle Times printed it less than two weeks ago. And since the line was referring to me and to two people who have redone their health and their shapes along with me, I, of course, had to believe it. Newspapers don't lie, right?

The two other hunks--a now slender and beautiful Marilyn Gregory and a downright handsome Tony Volchok--probably read that and, like me, didn't want to finish the rest of the article about our dinner celebration. (Especially since the second line commented on the slight overstatement of the first line.)

But that's OK. Those two can crow all they want. In eight months, they have begun to remake both their health and their shape the right way. Their remake was sponsored by the Seattle Times and an organization called Group Health Center for Health Promotion.

The Job's Not Finished

I say "begun" because they, like me, haven't finished the job yet. For instance, in seven months Marilyn has lost "only" 23 1/2 pounds. In the same time, Tony lost 32 1/2 pounds.

For those of you who go on diet programs that promise weight loss like that in one breath, you may yawn at their progress. But Marilyn and Tony will have the last laugh: Their weight will stay off. And probably more important, their health will keep improving, too.

Rapid weight loss, as you professional dieters know, never really works and very probably jeopardizes your health. New studies indicate that a continuing cycle of weight loss and gain can build up plaque in your arteries. Translate "plaque" into heart disease.

And what life-changing secret, you may ask, have Marilyn and Tony embraced to bring about these long-term, permanent changes in their shape and health?

It's called moderation.

These two have made modest changes in the way they eat and have moderately increased their level of activity. They did not take diet pills or fall for the latest quack diet.

Unfortunately, most people do fall for the quick, quack approach--usually for two reasons. We all want effortless change, and we assume books and products sold through the media and legitimate bookstores have to be worthwhile.

Health quackery has reaped $6 billion in business on that last assumption, too. Endless techniques are used to rip us off.

These bizarre theories and products are the equivalent of saying two plus two equals anything but four. Since most of us don't know the mathematics of health and fitness, these spiels sound logical.

So, how do you stay away from the erroneous information?

Check on Credentials

First, check out all degrees. Your library has a book called "Accredited Institutions of Post-Secondary Education," which lists the real ones.

Second, look to registered dietitians for diet information. Anyone can call themselves a "nutritionist," and thousands of quacks and charlatans do.

Your local hospital probably has a registered dietitian in its nutrition department who consults privately. Your local health department will have a list of registered dietitians in your area.

As my fellow hunks in Seattle would tell you, slow weight loss and health changes may not be as much fun as dramatic change, but our changes are real and long-term and haven't profited one quack or charlatan.

Wouldn't you like to be able to say that?

Progress Report

Beginning 39th Week Waist: 43 inches 33 3/8 inches Right biceps: 12 3/4 inches 13 inches Flexed: 13 inches 13 3/4 inches Weight: 201 pounds 165 pounds Height: 6' 1" Blood Pressure: 128/68 120/62 Pulse: 64 52 Bench press: 55 150 Hunk factor: .00 .75

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