KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


America on the Move wants you to take part in SteptemberNo, that's not a typo in this post's title. Yes, most of us are experiencing the month of September, but for America on the Move (AOM), it's Steptember, when thousands of people will find small, easy steps to improve their health.

Full disclosure: Because I've been losing weight sensibly, I was contacted by an account executive at GolinHarris, the public relations agency that represents AOM, a U.S. nonprofit organization, about posting about AOM. AOM's sponsors are PepsiCo, Lean Cuisine (a subsidiary of Stouffers, which is owned by Nestlé USA), McNeil Nutritionals (makers of Splenda and other brands and a division of Johnson & Johnson), and Merck (maker of many vaccines and medicines, including the cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs Zocor [I take a generic form of this], Zetia, and Vytorin).

I can understand why Lean Cuisine, McNeil, and Merck would want you to be healthier.

But I find it odd that PepsiCo, maker of soft drinks that gets millions of people to ingest empty calories and lots of sugar, would. Maybe to burnish its image?

And Nestlé is the giant maker of infant formula (among many other products), samples of which it gives away in poor nations. This causes many mothers to favor formula over breastfeeding, and then when the free samples run out and the mothers can't afford to buy formula, they find that their breast milk has dried up, depriving their infants of essential nutrients. Or they mix the powdered formula given to them with dirty water, and their babies develop life-threatening diarrhea. Ever read some of the many reports (and here) and books about how the donation of these formula samples isn't benign but is really a marketing move to make more money for the formula makers? Because of these practices, a boycott of Nestlé has been going on for decades. The company apparently needs to do some image-burnishing too.

Still, what AOM wants you to do is admirable: take 2 simple steps (thus the name Steptember) to improve your health:
  • Add 2,000 steps (about 1 mile) to your daily routine

  • Cut just 100 calories (1 tablespoon of butter) from what you eat each day

For most people, making a lot of changes to eating and exercise habits all at once is overwhelming, dooming them to fail. If they do succeed in losing weight, they later gain it back because they didn't make the changes permanently. The changes I made would've been too much for some, but I'd been heading toward a healthier diet for some time and had exercised in the past, so it was just a matter of refining my food intake and going back to the exercise that I used to do. If you don't have any good eating habits in place, don't think you have time to prepare whole foods, and don't like the idea of an exercise regimen, AOM's plan is for you. Get yourself a cheap pedometer and keep track of your steps. You may be surprised at how inactive you are and want to add more steps, maybe by walking instead of driving or by doing more yard work.

You can even register with AOM, at no charge, as an individual or as part of a group to get planning guides and tip sheets to help you along.

Try making these small changes—no gym membership fees, expensive exercise clothes, or complicated diets to try and fail at—and weight loss just might sneak up on you. Wouldn't that be cool?

cross-posted at Editing My Body

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