LET’S TAKE A HIKE: Please step away from your computer—or set down the iPad—and get up from your chair. Walk over to a staircase. Climb up and down five times.
We’ll wait ….
You’re back! Great. Are you a little winded? A lot winded?
If you’re planning to attend this year’s national Scout jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve (and we hope you are), that little staircase climb mimics roughly the elevation change you’ll be required to make five to 10 times every day while walking three to five miles between activity venues during the 10-day event.
“West Virginia is called ‘The Mountain State’ for a reason,” says Tico Perez, national commissioner of the BSA.
Unlike past jamborees, there will be no bus shuttle circuits or private vehicles on the site. “We’re going to hoof it the entire time,” says Perez, who has made a personal promise to lose weight and reach a body mass index (BMI) below 32, the cut-off requirement for attending the jamboree without submitting to a medical review. (Read the BMI requirements here: bit.ly/jamboBMI.)
The BSA’s ScoutStrong Healthy Living Initiative boasts a special Web portal devoted to helping jamboree participants shape up for the adventure. Visit scouting.org/SCOUTStrong and click on the Jamboree Prep icon for tips on becoming physically strong and mentally prepared for the event.
Meanwhile, use the following advice to start losing pounds today and building endurance for jambo in addition to other physical Scouting activities. This is the first of three Scouting magazine fitness columns leading up to the jamboree. Find the next installment in our March-April issue.
Step 1. Wean yourself off of soda and juice. Drink only water, milk, or unsweetened iced tea.
Fruity-flavored drinks and pop are the worst calorie offenders. A 20-ounce orange soda contains 95 grams of sugar and 325 calories. That’s 25 more calories than in a McDonald’s cheeseburger, and you don’t even get the benefit of protein and fat that will satisfy your hunger.
According to a survey by the USDA, the average American eats about 20 teaspoons of added sugar daily—or 317 empty calories. Eighty-two percent of that sugar or high fructose corn syrup can be attributed to soda, fruit drinks, baked goods, breakfast cereal, and candy. If you make one change for your health, cut out the sugary stuff. Consider this: If you typically drink one bottle of soda or juice a day and switch to water or unsweetened iced tea instead, you could lose 15 pounds of fat in a year without changing anything else about your diet or exercise. Step 1 is the easiest way to cut empty calories and improve your health.
Step 2. Walk more. Walking is the simplest, safest, least expensive, and most convenient way to exercise. And it’s effective, too: Studies show that a brisk 20-minute walk every day can reduce your waist size by an inch in just four weeks and significantly reduce deep belly fat. This is the fat that surrounds your internal organs and secretes dangerous chemicals. But a leisurely stroll won’t make it go away unless you walk for at least an hour. To gain the fat-loss benefit of a short workout, you need to raise your heart rate.
For example, a study at Duke University Medical Center found that people on a higher-intensity workout plan shrank their deep belly fat (and lost up to six pounds) versus slower walkers who actually gained weight during the eight-month study.
Ready to walk? Put on a sports watch and try the 20-minute walking interval, at right.
Step 3. Start Eating Cleaner. Try this simple eye-opening exercise: For three days, keep track of everything you eat or drink. Don’t count calories. Just keep a simple food log and review when done.
If you are a typical American, your three-day food diary will shock you because your list will be filled with packaged, processed foods containing boatloads of sugar, salt, and chemical preservatives. “These lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and premature aging,” says Chris Mohr, RD, Ph.D., a nutritionist and weight-loss expert at mohrresults.com.
The next step is to break your fast-food habit. A USDA study suggests that every day that you don’t eat at a fast-food restaurant will keep 500 extra calories out of your body.
Then, aim to have at least one vegetable and one fruit with every meal. By making vegetables and fruits your primary sources of carbohydrates, you will automatically eat less bread, pasta, rice, and you will automatically lose weight, says Dr. Mohr. Fiber-rich vegetables and fruits slow the absorption of sugars, lowering your insulin response and helping you control overeating.
These three steps—eliminating liquid calories, walking, and eating cleaner—will jump start your shape-up plan for the jamboree.
How to Measure BMI
Body Mass Index is one measure of body fat, determined by your height and weight, that doctors use to identify your risk for health problems. The National Jamboree requires that attendees have a doctor’s approval for participation and a BMI of 31.9 or less. To quickly find your BMI, use the National Institutes of Health calculator at nhlbisupport.com/bmi. To keep you safe, the Boy Scouts of America will require the jamboree medical staff to review all applicants who have a BMI between 32 and 39.9 before accepting Scouters for participation at the jamboree. (Read more about jamboree BMI requirements.)
A BMI between 25 and 29.9 indicates overweight; 30 or greater suggests obesity. Many studies show that risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes rises with a BMI over 30 or a waist size greater than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.
Jeff Csatari’s books, including the new The Belly Off! Workouts, are available for 20 percent off at rodalestore.com using the code “Scout” at checkout.