How My Fitness Journey Took A Detour, And How One Powerful Documentary Is Going To Help Me Get Back On Track.

Michael Pollan's PBS documentary and book have inspired RoseMarie to renew her fitness quest.
Nutritionist Michael Pollan’s PBS documentary and book have inspired RoseMarie to renew her fitness quest.

So, to let all of you who were following my fitness journey here last summer know, I was doing great…and then I wasn’t. I don’t know exactly when I lost momentum or let complacency set in or thought I could let some old bad habits wiggle back into my life here and there without bad effect. But here I am again a year later feeling like a stuffed sausage in too-tight jeans and nowhere near fitting into that favorite dress of mine again. Somehow I’ve managed to gain back half the weight I lost.

But I’m not throwing in the towel or losing the tape measure or chucking the scale. I’ve got three-plus months to get back to where I was last fall, and I vow to continue this time until I reach my goal. My plan is to continue my exercise program, finally conquer my habit of staying up late and getting up early, stick to a healthy and sensible diet, and make all of this a permanent, everyday part of my life going forward. I’ll report periodically on how I’m doing and share with you any insights or good tips I’ve found on my renewed journey to fitness.

My big piece of advice for you today is to check out In Defense of Food, the excellent two-hour PBS documentary about nutrition produced by Michael Pollan, America’s most personable, passionate, and brilliant nutrition activist, journalist, and award-winning author. At the heart of the documentary, which is based on his best-selling book of the same name and which first aired on PBS last December, is Pollan’s seven-word maxim to help Americans figure out how to eat to be healthy: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

During my fitness program last summer, I had actually incorporated some of his philosophy into my new eating regimen. I became very vigilant about portion control, and I started eating less meat and white food (e.g., bread, cheese, etc.) and more fruit and veggies. But after watching Pollan’s riveting documentary, I have a whole new view on what “food” is.

When Pollan says to “Eat food”, he’s talking about 100% real food, not quasi-food or “edible food-like substances”. Believe it or not, probably most of the food in your local supermarket falls into the latter category. Anything artificial or with additives does not qualify as real or pure food. When Pollan says “the quieter the food, the healthier the food”, he’s talking about the “health” claims that cry out from the packaging, most of which are horribly misleading or worse, untrue. As much as the government tries to regulate what can be said on packaging, the manufacturers find clever ways around the rules. To follow this part of the maxim, always read the labels and buy food that’s free of packaging, which will make it easier to follow the third part of the maxim: “Mostly plants”. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and consider meats “special occasion” food. For the freshest produce with the least amount of packaging, shop at your local farmers’ markets.

And to follow the middle part of the maxim, “Not too much”, Pollan suggests eating your fruits and vegetables first during a meal, and use smaller plates and glasses. And of course, be mindful of your portion sizes—think palm-full, not plate-full.

Enjoy Mr. Pollan’s documentary…and wish me luck!

Pollan's seven word rule for selecting and consuming food. Makes sense.
Pollan’s seven word rule for selecting and consuming food. Makes sense.


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