Harsh truth of the day: Americans are way too fat. That includes many people who will read this post.
Every time I go to the store I can't help but notice this fact. If our overlords are truly concerned about your health, if people like Mike DeWine, Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates, Gretchen Whitmer, and even Donald Trump are actually trying to prevent deaths and simultaneously uphold constitutional freedoms, they should be shouting from the rooftops:
"America, the harsh truth is that most of us are too fat. We eat too much of the wrong kinds of foods, and we don't exercise. We can't ignore this any longer. It's not okay to be fat - I'm sorry, it's just not.
We don't need to be unnecessarily mean to the point of demoralizing each other, but fat shaming needs to make a comeback.
Try intermittent fasting. Stop eating so much sugar. Exercise until you're sweating. Lift weights.
If we solve this problem, we can greatly improve our collective health, save billions of dollars, and strengthen our immunity against numerous diseases, including COVID-19."
I'm not a proponent of nanny state measures like banning large sodas, but maybe there does need to be some kind of tax on sugary foods to disincentivize them. I don't know what specific public policies could be pursued to work on this, but someone could figure it out.
Related to this problem is the fact that our government is extremely corrupt, so I know why people don't like this approach. Honestly, I don't either, but I know something COULD be done that's ethical, effective, and not an egregious violation of our freedom.
We all have flaws. We all have things we need to work on - myself included. But seriously guys: start taking your health more seriously. Get the sugary foods out of your house.
I don't believe in a one-size-fits-all approach, but here's what has worked for me (DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or fitness expert. I'm just a normal guy who's maintained decent fitness over the years):
Start out trying for 16 hours with nothing but water and black coffee. Once you develop more mental fortitude, go for 18 or even 24 hours. My understanding is that occasionally fasting for up to 48 hours can have serious health benefits, but I wouldn't ever go more than that. I've rarely gone over 18. Once in awhile I'll do a 24, but it's a challenge.
Drink a TON of water during the fast. Get something like sparkling water to help keep things interesting during the fast if you need it.
At the end of your fast, do an intense workout. Yes, I know it will suck at first, but you need to embrace the suck. Trust me - vigorous exercise during a fast will burn more fat than you ever thought possible and you'll feel like a hero just for accomplishing this.
-Lower carb lifestyle
I don't think carbs are bad, but certainly we eat way too many of them. I think Keto is a great choice if you're dedicated enough to plan for it and commit, but even if you're not doing Keto, just stop eating so many carbs. It's unnecessary. Stick to whole foods for your carb intake: fibrous veggies, sweet potatoes, whole fruit (avoid added syrup such as in canned fruit and fruit juice), beans, etc.
If you eat low carb for a week or two, you will almost certainly lose weight. Where people have trouble is being consistent. Try to avoid temporary diets and instead make changes you know you can sustain in the long term.
Eat less overall and eat more of the right foods.
If you're extremely overweight, start with 3-4 days a week, lifting weights and doing light cardio until you're breaking a good sweat. 20-30 minutes per session is probably plenty if you're at this stage.
If you're average weight (moderately overweight), also start with 3-4 days a week but go for 30-40 minutes per session. Again, make sure you're sweating and your heart rate is elevated.
If you want to build muscle (something I recommend for everyone including women), make sure you're doing enough reps + heavy enough weight that you get a very good burn. 8-12 reps is a good baseline for any weightlifting exercise, but make sure you're seriously burning by the last rep.
If you have access to barbells, 10x10s are a fantastic way to get an amazing weightlifting session and maintain high heart rate the whole time:
10 reps of deadlift, squat, or bench press, followed by 60 seconds of rest... repeated 10 times.
I guarantee you will be huffing and puffing by the end and feeling a serious burn. Don't settle for the "oh, I'm just a little bit fat, and certainly I know people who are worse" excuse. If you can't see your jawline, if you can't see your feet, if you can't see muscle definition basically anywhere on your body, you're probably too fat. Seriously challenge yourself. You don't need to make it about vanity, but push yourself harder than usual, because our culture isn't, and this is why we're all in bad health. We all need to learn a little from the Stoics and develop a lot more self-discipline, especially in regards to food and exercise. Building self-discipline and restraint in this area of life has value in and of itself, regardless of how lean or ripped you may or may not become. This is all especially relevant during uncertain times where our mental and physical fortitude will likely be tested in the months and years to come. Don't make excuses for yourself, America. Put down the soda, candy, and cheesecake. Pickup something heavy and move it until you're sweating like mad and uncomfortable. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable, embrace "the suck", and you'll be in a much better position to weather the coming storm.