We look in the mirror, try on a new pair of pants, or step on the scale, and are not happy with what we see or feel. Maybe we are running after a bus, walking the dog, or playing with the kids or grandkids and find that we are rapidly out of breath where once we would not have given it a second thought.We are officially “overweight”, and something must be done!The reaction is automatic, and an entire industry has grown up which feeds on this one thought:”I must lose weight!””Weight loss and fat loss are not the same thing. You must learn to distinguish between the two. The scale can be very misleading if it’s the only criteria you use for measurement.” –Tom Venuto, “Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle”However, the problem is not just that “weight loss” and “fat loss” are not necessarily the same. The big problem, at least for me, is that people who don’t know a lot about how the body, exercise, and nutrition work, and the interactions between and among them, tend to assume that since the problem is “weight” the solution is “less weight”.This often leads the person down two trails, often at the same time, if you can imagine that.The first is the simplest path.”I have too much “weight” on my body because I eat too much…or eat the wrong things.”Just to show how a lack of understanding of the previously mentioned factors can lead the person astray, their diet, i.e. what they eat, not “fad” diet, can be excellent, but they might have too much fat on their body because of lack of exercise.That is, their “weight” per se might not be the issue but what this weight is comprised of…in this case, fat.The solution that most of these people choose is to eat less, that is “go on a diet”, or try to follow some very restrictive or complicated eating pattern.While there will always be a few who are successful with such tactics, most will not be so lucky, and I use the term “lucky” intentionally. They are lucky in that these generally ineffective weight loss methods just happened to work for them.There are many pitfalls in the world of dieting to lose weight, and, overall, this is one of the least effective methods of losing excess pounds. I have described elsewhere, and in depth, many reasons why diets don’t work, and to keep this article short will skip the details now. However, there will be a link at the bottom of this article which anyone can follow to learn more about this.One last point here: Do not confuse “diet” with “good nutritional choices”. Cutting chunks of nutritional resources out of your normal eating activities is not the same as making rational selections of foods, exercising portion control, and applying a certain amount of common sense and will power to the situation.The other path that may be chosen is that of exercise.While I can hardly imagine faulting anyone for choosing exercise as part of their “fat loss” or “weight loss” regimen, blindly leaping into an exercise program can be just about as useless as choosing to live on soda crackers and ice cream.A great health tool at almost any level, to be an effective weight loss tool, the specific exercises done, the intensity at which they are done, the frequency with which they are practiced and the progressive nature of the exercise program are all going to be major factors in the outcome.Again, usually someone who loses a significant amount of weight simply because they have begun to “exercise” is simply lucky.Actually, effective, HEALTHY weight loss when both options of regular exercise and proper nutrition are followed simultaneously. The drawback which remains is, that if you really want to lose weight, you have to know what you need to know about eating, and what you need to know about exercise…and implement this knowledge.Having read this article thus far after having read the title, you may think that the weight loss tip that nobody mentions is simply to get educated about exercise and nutrition. While this is genuinely important to your success in losing weight, or fat, or becoming a healthier, happier, more energetic individual. that’s not the tip I wanted to give you.After all, knowing what you are doing is important for success in almost any activity…investing, playing the piano, or doing open heart surgery. If you leap into exercise and nutritional changes without any clue of what you should be doing…or why, you will probably soon be among the millions who have taken blind leaps of faith only to find that their ability to succeed is no better because of that faith than without it.If you really want to “lose weight” permanently and in a healthy manner, you will need to educate yourself.However, education takes time, as does weight loss itself. So, what can you do to get started while undergoing not only the period of education but the period of application…including the errors and adjustments which will need to be dealt with because we are all human?Here’s the tip:Concentrate on being healthy, and save the weight loss stuff for when you are stronger, fitter, and more knowledgeable about what to do.For the time being, do the things that you know are “good for you”. You know you should not eat sugar, so don’t! You know you should get more exercise, so do that! You know that an apple is better for you than an apple pie, so eat the apple. You know that a small bowl of ice cream is better than a large one, so don’t deny yourself the ice cream, just decide that the portion will be smaller.Choosing to live in a healthier manner will automatically help you lose some of the “weight”, or fat, or whatever. Maybe it will just help get rid of some of that “water weight”. Isn’t that something of value?Most people who concentrate on losing weight will fail. It is simpler to concentrate on living a healthier life…and almost anyone can succeed at that.Stay with that, and someday you will be lighter, stronger, and have more energy to use in your efforts to manage your weight. You will have learned more about yourself, your abilities, and your true desires and expectations…and, hopefully, if this being healthy has seemed to be a good thing to you, maybe you will expand your knowledge, and extend and define your goals and actually lose whatever excess is on your body, be it fat or weight.
We are all concerned about the state of education. From declining test scores and underfunding, to high school dropout and illiteracy rates, it can sometimes seem as if the nation is on the brink of an educational crisis. If our children do poorly, we often lay blame on teachers, educators, and leaders. If our children do well, we often complaisantly breath a sigh of relief that at least our school, our community, and our teacher, has somehow escaped the quagmire of incompetence.Whether our child’s academic performance is poor or exceptional, as parents we must turn to ourselves to shoulder both some of the blame or the credit. While we are often powerless to afford any immediate changes to the funding or facilities, we do control our homes and our hearts. With a mind towards active parental involvement in our child’s education, we can make a difference. A review of over sixty studies (Henderson (1:23-152) examining parent involvement and student achievement concluded that when parents are involved in their child’s education at home they do better in school. When parents are involved at school, their children attend school longer, and the schools they go to are better.Involvement in your child’s education can mean:Read, Write, and DiscussRead to your child. Read in front of your child. Discuss what you read, and ask questions. Write letters, play word games, storytell, and generally create a print-rich environment. An environment that fosters critical thought and creative expression, is an environment ripe to create a naturally curious child, and a good student. You need not be a natural academic to create these changes in your home; simply focusing books and discussion on subjects that are naturally of interest to you and your child. Whether it’s science, sports, religion, or fashion, reading can create a love of learning that your whole family can be passionate about.Be Homework SavyStay aware of your child’s homework situation, especially if there is a problem. If your child’s teacher doesn’t utilize tools such as website assignment updates, homework logs, or teacher conferences, be proactive. Teachers are often overwhelmed, burnt-out, and discouraged by the apathy common in so many parents. Review your child’s homework every night (though don’t do it for them) and discuss the work. If necessary, arrange for conferences, make your own homework log, or ask for resources if you need assistance in helping your child.Talk to Your Child’s TeacherBe diligent about attending back-to-school-night, open house, teacher conferences, and other school events. Touch base with your child’s teacher on a regular basis. If a problem arises, it is much easier to approach your child’s teacher if you already have an established relationship.Make School a PriorityBy making school a priority, you are sending the message to your child that education matters. Minimize missed school and help your child arrive to school on time every day. Emphasize the role of educator as one worthy of the highest honor and respect, similar to that of a parent. Set a consistent bedtime and restrict activities such as television, outings, and video games on school nights, and make sure you serve balanced, nutritious meals to assure a sharp mind for school. Treats can wait for the weekend.Be an Education AdvocateRemain aware of issues that affect public education, both locally and statewide. Vote in school board elections and attend PTA meetings, and participate in district or school fundraising efforts to help supplement underfunded schools. Even schools in more affluent areas can suffer the results of budget cuts, which can affect arts programs, athletic programs, facility improvement, and class size.Finally, just stay connected. Even inquiring your child about their school day, each and every day, will help send the message to your child that education matters. While some parents are able to be involved in several facets of their child’s education, others may only have time for one or two activities. Just letting your child know you care, and willing to sacrifice your own time and effort for their education, can make a difference. Whatever your level of personal involvement, do so with a spirit of dedication and commitment. It can make a huge difference in your child’s life.