My mother taught me everything I need to know about weight control. Notice that I said “me.” What works for me might not work for you if you have issues like thyroid problems or a slow metabolism. Her lessons can be summed up in the words I see at Scott Park: Eat less, move more.

When I was about twelve, I was helping my mother clear the table after a scrumptious Sunday dinner. Although I don’t recall the main course, I know it was Good with a capital G because Marjorie Ann was an excellent cook. I do, however, remember the dessert, cherry pie with ice cream on top. I LOVE cherry pie and can still taste the tart, yet sweet, flavor of those dark red cherries. And that dollop of vanilla ice cream was literally the “icing on the cake.”

“I want another piece of pie,” I told my busy mother.

“Do you really need another piece?” she asked.

While I was wondering what need had to do with it, she sweetly told me that that’s how people got fat—eating seconds, especially of desserts. Although I was probably about the skinniest kid in the sixth grade, her words hit home. No, I didn’t want to get fat, and if cherry pie was going to do that to me, then no thanks.

When I was a child, we lived in a small house, and truthfully, I remember as much or more about the yard than the house because my mother often said, “Go outside and play.” And play we did. I recall some bushes behind the house that we used to jump around in and shriek, “Murder below!” Why we said that, I’m not sure. In the summertime, we stayed out so late that we collected jars of lightning bugs and then punched holes in the jar lids, hoping to keep the tiny fireflies alive.

Years later, I rarely eat more than one piece of pie or anything else. I don’t trust myself with cherry pie, however, so I don’t even purchase it. Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve also learned that there is a direct correlation between what a person ingests and how she feels. Too much mac and cheese makes me feel sluggish; apples make me feel light and energetic. Soft drinks make me feel bloated; water makes me feel “fine.” Too much food makes me feel nauseated and overly full; just the right amount makes me feel satisfied but not uncomfortable.

About playing outside, while I don’t play in the bushes behind our house or stay out to collect lightning bugs, I do spend some time outside each day. Unless there’s a blizzard, a torrential rain, or 100 degree temperatures, I’m going for a walk. Whether 20 minutes or two hours, I go outside to play. Naturally, there are other exceptions such as traveling or sickness.

As an aside, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. That seems like a lot when you first read it, but it’s only thirty minutes a day, five days a week. Some health professionals recommend breaking it into fifteen minutes twice a day if you don’t have thirty minutes.

Walking’s not for everyone. I like it because I don’t have to have any special equipment, join a team, or have a set schedule or location. I’ve walked in places where cars don’t go and seen things I’d have missed if I’d been cruising along in a car or riding a bike. At the same time, if biking, working out, doing yoga, dancing, swimming, or some other type of movement works best for you, then that’s what you should do.

For me, however, walking it is. As a “non-athlete” (something my husband reminds me of on a regular basis), it’s a type of exercise I can actually do without having to worry about coordination, speed, or team spirit. There’s a woman in our neighborhood who walks with a walker, and she’s my current role model. “Just do it,” her actions proclaim.

I’d write more, but I need to lace up my shoes and hit the pavement. I hope you don’t interpret this blog as being preachy. I’m just trying to prolong your life, boost your spirits (exercise elevates mood), and improve your health, both mental and physical.

What’s your favorite form of exercise? And what about your weight loss strategies?

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