Obesity is one of the biggest health factors facing America today. For the first time ever, life expectancy is actually falling--because obesity is causing death faster than medical science solves other causes of death. But there's so much temptation. We don't have to hunt for food, painstakingly gather seeds and nuts. Instead, there's all sorts of wonderful food at the neighborhood fast food restaurant or even in our cupboards. I've certainly learned I don't have the will power to leave sweet things in the house. If there's ice cream, for example, I eat it until it's gone.
While I'm not thin, I truly believe that exercise is essential to permanent weight loss. Diets can help you lose weight, but it'll come back on unless you change your lifestyle--and who wants to spend the rest of your life eating cabbage? I used to lift weights as exercise--it really is a perfect workout--except it's boring. After a while, I just couldn't face it any more. So, I looked around for an exercise program where:
1. I felt I could be learning something
2. I'd get support from other people (my home weight bench quickly became a laundry bench)
3. The skills I learn could help me if I needed them--and would assist me in my writing as well
4. Would have a definite set of hours--so I couldn't do the old 'I'll skip today and make up tomorrow' self-sabotage.
For me, studying the martial arts met these criteria. I write action stories, so the fighting aspects of the martial arts come in handy. I hope never to get into actual fights, but the skills I've learned will help protect me if I need them. There's always something to learn so it's never boring. And the exercise is intense--both from a cardio perspective and from a strength perspective.
There are a wide spectrum of martial arts to choose from. Anything from intense grappling (jujitsu/judo), to hard striking arts (karate/tae kwon do) to more calm but still valuable arts like t'ai chi (which is especially great for older people whose bones might not stand up to the intensity of the high-contact martial arts). Any of these give you a chance to make friends, learn a skill, have fun, and burn a whole lot of calories.