If weight loss and living a healthier lifestyle is a challenge for you - join the club. Literally. The Fat club that is, because Chicago has earned the dubious honor of being the nation's fattest city, according to Men's Fitness magazine.
The city often has ranked near the top of the fattest list - it was No. 5 last year. But it catapulted to the highest spot in 2006 because it has the "survey's worst workout environment" according to Men's Fitness editor Neal Boulton. The article also cited Chicagoans' love of television and lack of exercise as a contributing factor.
And for African Americans specifically, the consequences of being in poor health are even more detrimental.
So to combat the rising statistics of obesity and health issues, The Chicago Defender has issued a hefty challenge to all of Chicagoland to take back their power and get fit by losing a million pounds in one year.
This health and fitness initiative entitled The Million Pound Challenge is designed to encourage Chicago’s African Americans to lose weight and increase physical fitness through developing healthy diet and exercise habits. They, along with UniCare will do this by hosting a number of citywide workout days, health seminars, free cooking classes and town hall meetings.
It's been one week since the kick off and I decided to take today's column to evaluate where I'm at now and where I realistically want to be in a year. The last part is easier to answer. Obviously, I want to be at my best, as I'm sure most of us do. But being in my thirties, with a hectic schedule and two toddler boys makes that more of a challenge than it ever has been before. Add in that I don't like exercise or healthy foods, and the challenge of being healthy seems insurmountable. So as to where I'm at now – quite frankly, it's probably in the worst shape of my life.
And because of that - I'm publicly taking the challenge. Not only to better the quality of my life but to hopefully encourage others to do the same. For the next year, I'll be dedicating one column a month to talk about ways to get on track, stay there and probably end up sharing way more about my own personal struggles with weight loss than I ever have before. But it's a good thing because today I am claiming success for us all.
Eating well is one of the most important things you can do to fight cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Physical activity can also reduce your risk of chronic disease, aid in balance and coordination, help you lose weight - even improve your sleep habits and self-esteem. When you consider the benefits, we really have no choice but to get better at being both.
So start today by eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, incorporating more whole grains in your diet, selecting healthier fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils, reducing your meal portions and moving at least three times a week. Also, monitor your progress to see what works for you and what doesn't by writing your food intake and exercise achievements in a journal.
I will be keeping an online http://millionpoundchallenge.blogspot.com/ where I will share helpful tips from nutritionists and personal trainers from across Chicago. Also for more information or to register for the Million Pound Challenge, visit chicagodefender.com or call (312) 225-2400 ext. 111.
It's time to make Chicago the fittest city in the nation and we have a year to do it!