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Fitness guru Jim Karas tackles a weighty topic

Updated: July 6, 2012 10:12AM

I just finished reading yet another article blaming our current obesity epidemic on sugar, insulin, carbs, food companies, lack of exercise, sleep deprivation — you name it. The reason our obesity epidemic is out of control is because we, as Americans, simply accept it. Better yet, we embrace it.

Look at the numbers: 68 percent of the American population is either overweight or obese. That means that those of us who are at a more acceptable weight are the minority.

Michelle Obama was recently on “Good Morning America” showing people how to grow vegetables. Really, Michelle, you think that’s the solution? Nearly half of us don’t touch a vegetable every day — let alone buy seeds, tend to the soil or even find the room in our apartments or yards to plant.

Instead, we need to be “conditioned” to make better food choices.

Personal example: I was in West Hollywood a few years ago at the peak of the water crisis. I was working out at a popular gym, and standing with seven other men while I shaved with the water running in between strokes. All 14 eyes turned to me, and I immediately looked down at my abs to see if I looked chubby, as the people there were in insane shape. Nope, I looked presentable, but all eyes stayed on me. Finally, a tatted-up, bald muscle-head looked at my running water and said, “Not cool, man, not cool.”

Trust me: That was the last time I kept the water running while shaving anywhere, even at home. That’s conditioning.

But when you decide to entertain, or just have a few pals over, what’s your conditioning? Do you think, “Let’s grill some chicken and veggies, bake some potatoes and serve a fruit salad and sorbet for dessert”?

Instead, you want to make it “special” since none of your friends ever eat out. Really? You were just out two nights ago. You want to make it a celebration since, well, it’s Tuesday, and that’s a reason to celebrate. Yeah, and then Wednesday is “hump day,” and yet another reason to treat yourself. Sound familiar?

See, the problem is you. What’s wrong with a lighter offering for those who don’t wish to consume 3,678 calories in one meal? (FYI: 3,500 calories = 1 pound.)

I say we, as Chicagoans — ranked the second-fattest city in the country according to Men’s Health — stand up and say, “We don’t want to be fat anymore.”

So, I challenge you: Condition yourself to serve up something healthier this summer season, and by healthy, I don’t mean a gluten-free rhubarb pie. I mean fruits, veggies and lean protein. Try it.
You might actually like it. And trust me, living lean is “cool, man, oh so very cool.”

Jim Karas donated his $1,000 fee for writing this column to Northwestern Integrative Medicine.

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