Posts Tagged 'bicycling'

The Very Best Diet, Part II

Last week I named the very best diet for weight loss as being one of low car use. That’s because our bodies were designed to get us from place to place with this cool gait called walking. My husband and I share just one car, and use public transit, our feet and our bikes for many of our trips. It’s more fun, too.

What else has been rising in the U.S. in the past decades besides car use, body weight and obesity rates? Television watching. We’re watching four hours a day per person on average. I haven’t met anyone who thinks that’s a good thing. Robert Putnam in his breakthrough book “Bowling Alone” showed that decreased exercise, voting, social activites, etc. are all so closely linked to increased television watching that we can fairly say heavy TV use crowds out the things that create healthy citizens.

That’s why I believe the second part of the very best diet for Americans is the diet for our televisions. The less time we spend sitting still watching it, the more we move around doing other things being relatively active, both physically and socially.

Thor and I watch literally no television. While we own a TV, it lives humbly downstairs in the basement, and gets used occasionally for a rented movie. If the weather is halfway decent the poor thing can be starved of any attention for weeks at a time. It’s not a flat-screen either — flat-screens use too much electricity and we believe in energy diets too . . . a topic for a future post.

Consider putting your television on a diet, too. I bet it helps you lose weight by opening up time for more activity, both physical and social.

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The Very Best Diet, Part I

You have probably read by now that our country has been getting dramatically more obese for twenty years now. Most people I know seem to want to lose weight and be more lean and fit. Diets, though, are famous for non-lasting results and nasty backlash effects.

My philosophy of the diamond-cut life naturally has a different take on weight loss and dieting than the mainstream culture does. (I’m not making any money on any of this after all, which can help with objectivity.) The little-publicized fact is that our body-weight is rising in conjunction with the miles we drive in our cars and the hours we spend in them. Incidentally our carbon emissions are on the same upward trajectory.

Think about it. Sit in a car more, gain more weight. Use your body to get yourself around, lose weight. Too simple, huh.

My conclusion: it is the car-use that needs the diet, not the well-meaning person. (You may think the car is well-meaning, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt over inanimate objects).

photo by Jill Greenseth

photo by Jill Greenseth

Here is the very best diet I know. I would call it the Low-Car Diet except that my nice pals at the car-share company Zipcar already use that name for their fun summer program.) I subscribe to the diet below and am often asked how I stay so slim. (I don’t talk much about the time back in college when I got really fat, it’s too embarrassing.)

  • Use stairs instead of elevators and escalators
  • Bicycle for trips and errands of five miles and less
  • Walk for trips and errands of up to two miles
  • Use transit whenever possible (entails more walking than cars)
  • Pick a church or other steady destination that’s within walking distance
  • Use the car only when nothing else will work for the purpose at hand

Next week I’ll write about the other very best diet I know. It’s almost as fun and carbon-reducing as this one!

My New Job In Transportation Options

Last Friday afternoon I got the best phone call of my professional life, to date. It was the friendly voice of Michael Ward at Oregon Department of Transportation, offering me the job of Transportation Options Program Manager.

Starting next week that will be my new job and Michael will be my new boss. I’ll be the voice, the advocate, the ‘concept salesperson’ at ODOT — in the state of Oregon — for public transit, carpooling, bicycling and other transportation options. Why do these matter so much? The more we use these options instead of driving alone, the more we build the health of our climate, communities, bodies and bank accounts. As with renewable energy, transportation options build our future.

Thor and I danced for joy at the coast Friday night, to Peter Gabriel’s extended version of In Your Eyes. Many of you know I will dance at the drop of a hat, and even rope Thor into joining me, but this was a particularly happy dance. Why? I have wanted and worked for this kind of full-time right-livelihood position since 2002. It took a long time, and a lot of help.

Big thanks to my husband’s support and to colleagues, friends and mentors Karen Frost, Dan Kaempff, Vicki Lind and many other great people at TriMet, Metro, TOGO, W.T.A., OLCV, Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center and other good organizations.