Welcome to Fitness Mantra’s “Reviews and Predictions” Edition. Darren Rowse at Problogger has another Group Writing Project and looking back and/or forward is the topic this time around. Seeing as the year is about to come to an end, this is an apt topic and something I was considering doing during the last week of December anyway.
If you are here via ProBlogger or a first-time visitor, I would like to welcome you to Fitness Mantra, a health and fitness blog I started back in May of this year. The goal of Fitness Mantra is encapsulated in the byline itself: Make fitness your way of life. No fad-diets, no food-group-shunning; simply an educated, simple way to include better foods in our diets and understand how our body works with those foods.
Topics like health, fitness and nutrition are constantly in the news and there has been a spate of good news toward the end of the year. The fact that the government is now involved in things like reducing trans fat and making official diet and exercise recommendations is heartening. At the same time it is unfortunate to hear of increasing obesity around the world and the surge of diabetes (especially the mostly preventable adult-onset variety which accounts for 95% of all diabetes cases).
In this post I would like to not only highlight news from the world of fitness and make predictions as I wanted to, but also do the same things about this blog itself and how it has/will change(d) my life. Doing this every year would help me gauge the progress Fitness Mantra is making in terms of quality and usefulness.
Past and Future in Fitness News:
The best thing about writing a blog like Fitness Mantra is that it keeps me on my toes. I am always looking for fitness tips, news and websites that I feel will add value to the readers and myself. Here are some of the top news articles I came across in 2006:
- Adult Obesity Increases in 31 States: An August 2006 report titled â€œF as in Fat: How obesity policies are failing in Americaâ€ (PDF) from the Trust For Americaâ€™s Health shows that over the past year, adult obesity rates have increased in 31 states in the U.S. and stayed the same in the rest of the states.
- American Heart Association makes diet and lifestyle recommendations: The American Heart Association has released diet and lifestyle recommendations aimed at increasing the level of health and fitness in the country with, of course, particular emphasis on the reduction and prevention of cardiovascular disease.
- Trans fat banned in New York restaurants: Restaurants in New York City (NYC) have 18 months to remove artificial trans fat from their food following a unanimous decision by the city’s board of health for them to do so. Some restaurants will also have to publish information about the calorie content in their food.
- Town planning blamed for obesity: Poor town planning which limits opportunities for children to take exercise has been blamed for fuelling an increase in obesity.
- Minnesota Ranked ‘Healthiest State’: Minnesota is the healthiest state in the U.S., and Louisiana is the least healthy, according to a new ranking.
Why have I selceted these specific news articles from the scores of links I bookmark everyday? Notice a common trend among them? They are all related to the government or organisations making mandates/laws or in a position to make a difference to large sets of people. Why is this important? Consider: how many fatalities do you think would result from car-crashes if the government only “suggested” that people wear seatbelts? The sad reality is there are somethings people will take seriously (even if compelling evidence is provided) only if it made into law. The dangers of trans fats have been known now for many years, but it takes a law for restaurants to finally react.
Predictions for 2007? I would look for these:
- Increased awareness of harmful/obesity-causing ingredients like trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup
- A clamoring for restaurants to publish more information about the foods they serve including nutritional information and a list of ingredients. I am also hoping more restaurants will offer alternate choice of certain meals to include whole grain ingredients or low-fat substitutes. Consumers can make informed decisions only if they have the choice.
- Portions portions portions! Already the FDA has advised restaurants to keep tabs on potion sizes and I hope to see smaller plates, smaller quantities and maybe even smaller prices (oh wait, that’s too much to ask!)
- Unfortunately I also have some not so rosy predictions, but thankfully they are conditional and hence I hope they don’t come true. It begins with an if: If the current state of increased portions and lack of exercise continues, it seems natural to me that there will be an increase in the percentage of obese people around the world. But like I said this is completely reversible and time will tell which way the scales turn in bathrooms around the world.
- In a similar vein, my next topic of interest – and one you might notice I frequently blog about because it is so preventable – adult-onset (type 2) diabetes, is also likely to see an increase unless we learn to exercise both our bodies and our minds to make fitness a priority.
Past and Future for Fitness Mantra and Myself?
I started this blog in May of this year and the primary goal was to learn. While many of my posts might
sometimes many times sound “preachy”, that has never been my intention. Strong language, a call to arms, commands to be fit, these are all nothing more than a genuine interest to spread the word of health and fitness while trying to back it all up with research and news from around the world.
Initially I took up as many news articles as I could and blogged about them while adding my own perspectives and giving personal examples. But soon it became apparent that this was not a sustainable model. There were simply too many interesting news articles for me to do justice to them all and so I started to bookmark them all for my own convenience so I could read them at leisure over the weekend. That was when I got two ideas: (1). I make these public as a del.icio.us feed that anyone could subscribe to and (2). Every Friday I publish the list of “stories of the week” with brief descriptions and a featured story as well.
Here are some of my posts that have received the most visits through organic web-searches:
- Sweeteners and sugar substitutes – why I just use sugar: Choosing the coffee is an easier task than what follows: choosing what one should sweeten the drink with! The choices are colorful (pink, blue and yellow compete with white and brown) and equally confusing. I thought I should try to see what these things contain and if itâ€™s worth all the trouble.
- Starvation Response: Why drastic calorie reduction does not work: When man still had to hunt for his next meal, there were often times when he had to go days without food and starvation response most likely developed as a natural response to reduced availability of food.
- Why do we crave sugar?: The body realised that foods rich in sugar like fruits, berries and chocolate-chip-ice-cream provided much needed energy to replenish the body.
- 5 links to calorie-conscious fitness: Understanding this word “calorie” that is thrown about so much in everyday-talk. What is it really? Incidentally this was my entry for one of Problogger’s previous group writing projects.
- High-Fructose Corn Syrup: Giving you that empty feeling: Pick up almost any fruit drink or soda from your local grocery store aisle and you are very likely to find a strangely worded item listed high up in the list of ingredients. It is a relatively new ingredient that is artifically created from corn and is much sweeter than sugar. Infact, it was not even around before the 1980s.
For 2007, I plan to do many things with FM. I would like to include more kinds of posts and will start to focus on the exercise aspect of general fitness (most of my posts so far have dealt with nutrition). I also plan to feature healthful recipes that are easy to prepare and do some book and product reviews. From a technical viewpoint I am also thinking about changing the theme for the website to help it load faster and remove its dependence on the user having Flash installed. I would also appreciate any feedback you have regarding the site and what I can do to make it more useful to you.
Finally, on a personal level, Fitness Mantra has literally changed my life. It has changed my perception of food, exercise and general fitness. My mirror is testament to the transformation my body has undergone just this past year and you can read more about it when you discover How Fitness became my Mantra.
If you liked this post and would like to be a regular reader of articles that expound the virtue of making fitness a part of your everyday life, do consider subscribing to Fitness Mantra by RSS or simply enter your email-address at the top of this page and click “Subscribe” (You will receive a single email a day, and only if new content is posted).
Letâ€™s continue to make fitness our way of life.
Thanks for visiting, have a great holiday season and here’s to a healthful 2007!
[tags]health, fitness, reviews and predictions, problogger group writing project[/tags]