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America, Meet Television: Fat's Bestest Friend
By Seth Meyers   View more articles by this author
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September 14

Last week a study revealed that America is watching more television than ever, with many watching approximately 140 hours per month. I know, it seems almost hard to believe. Aren’t many of those viewers also working 40 hours per week? Perhaps in this economy, no, but still – how many hours are there in a week?!

There’s no question that a strong relationship exists between the number of hours you are sedentary and the number of inches in your waistline. Simply put, to be sedentary is to let fat win. In my Los Angeles private practice, I work with adults who seek psychotherapy to discuss weight issues. Each of them assures me that the most important thing they need to do is to eat less, and they often poo-poo the idea that exercise is equally important. In my training at an obesity clinic at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City, we urged our patients to spend less time sitting still and spend more time burning calories.

The number of weight loss books in America leaves no stone unturned – losing weight is a complex issue because people get fat for so many different reasons. Some eat because they’re depressed, while others eat because they’re bored. Everyone who overeats does so to self-soothe. The problem with getting overweight individuals to lose weight is that they often can handle the eating less part but hate the part that requires exercise. Many feel even fatter when they get their body moving, and they feel awkward in their own skin when they start to break a sweat.

This is where tough love can help: Say to yourself “too bad.” Tell yourself to “suck it up” and do what’s good for your body. Remind yourself that you will feel better after you’ve worked out.

When you set any goal, the goal has to be realistic or you’ll never reach it. Start with baby steps and increase your goals as you go. One of the best goals you can set for yourself if you want to lose weight is to set a television goal. In the next week, keep a log of your daily television viewing habits. Record on paper what you watch, when you watch it, and document the total at the end of each day. At the end of the week, take a look back at all the programs you’ve watched and decide which ones truly are “Must-See TV.”

As long as you are trying to lose weight, start by cutting your television viewing hours by half – perhaps in the future, you can reduce it to a quarter of what you watched in the beginning. Use that extra time in all sorts of ways – try cleaning the bathroom, rearranging the garage, or cleaning out a closet. Take a walk around the block or visit with a neighbor. If you really love your shows, create a reward system that is based on exercise. Give yourself an hour of television for every hour of exercise. Finally, remember this cardinal rule: Absolutely no eating in front of the television!

The key to weight loss is stay active. The more you learn to turn off the television, the more you will turn on the rest of your life.

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