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Obesity means having too much body fat. A BMI (body mass index) over 30 for any individual is considered “obese” which is 20% over what is a persons ideal weight. Almost 70% of Americans today are considered either overweight or obese. Almost 16.9% (13 million) of children in the U.S. age 2 to 19 are obese, 31.8% U.S. children are considered overweight, and 78 million adults are considered obese. Being overweight can put people at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other illnesses. Your body is made up of fat, water, proteins, vitamins, muscle and carbohydrates. When someone’s fat percentage is too high, especially around the waist, chances of high blood pressure can go up. Being obese can also raise cholesterol levels which can in-turn increase chances of heart disease. Chances of gall stones and osteoarthritis can increase as well with a higher body fat percentage. Structural problems can occur like joint problems such as arthritis. Being overweight can be harder on the back and cause back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, etc.
It is a good idea to have your BMI calculated every year by your physician at your yearly exam. To calculate BMI weight is divided by height however, it doesn’t account for muscle. Those who consistently lift weights, are body builders, etc may register on the BMI scale as “overweight” so the BMI measurement may be a crude way to measure body fat in some individuals. There are other, more accurate ways to measure body fat. Calipers can be used to pinch the skin then measure the fat when separated from the muscle. Various scales and tools can measure body fat as well as specially designed pods and water displacement devices are among the most accurate.
The most obvious cause of obesity is calories taken in out number calories burned or spent in a day. World wide there has been an increase in poor quality, empty calorie, carbohydrate dense foods as well as a decrease in activity. There are more jobs that require sitting at a desk all day and with the increase of mass transportation, trains, cars, busses, etc…. more and more people spend most all of their day sitting; “sitting is the new smoking” . Those that sit all day and exercise for 30 or more minutes a day are actually more unhealthy than those that stand at work all day and don’t exercise at all.
Weight loss can be difficult but it doesn’t have to be. Calories should be kept at about 15-1800 for women and around 17-2000 for men. Those caloric numbers don’t seem like much but it depends on what you eat. Vegetables can be consumed all day long to keep hunger away. Watch higher carbohydrate vegetables like corn, etc. go for the green, white, red; the more colorful the better. Limit sugar intake or don’t eat refined sugars at all. It can take about three days to detox off of sugar and it is as addictive as cocaine. Limit salty foods and white foods like potato chips and crackers, or, cut them out all together. A very satisfying snack is pistachios which can easily replace potato chips and popcorn, plus pistachios have protein which is good for building muscle. Drinking a large glass of water before each meal, first thing in the morning, and before bed not only keeps the body hydrated but also fills up the stomach. A lot of the time thirst can be masked as huger so always grab a glass of water first. Avoid snacks in-between meals unless they are very low calorie foods. Watermelon, kale chips, sugar snap peas, carrots, all make wonderful snacks. Try to get in 10,000 steps per day or at least walk a couple miles every day COMBINED with an exercise program that is fun and easy to follow. Take a mile or two walk at lunch or walk a mile in the morning and one at night. It really helps to wake you up and keep you more alert as well as aids in a better quality of sleep. Not only does a healthier eating program with exercise keep your heart healthy, it also wards off disease, aids in sleep, and helps mood! What a lot of people don’t realize is that weight management is 70% diet and 30% exercise. Many will exercise and then eat junk all day expecting to lose weight and it just wont happen. Maintaining weight that way might be possible but in the long run, you aren’t doing your body many favors with processed foods and junk.
Bottom line is, make weight loss fun. There are so many exercise options out there. So many ways to burn a few extra calories… walk to work or ride a bike to work if possible. Don’t take the bus all the way to the building, get off a few stops earlier and enjoy the walk and the weather! Take a bike ride or a walk after dinner instead of sitting in-front of the TV. There are so many new recipe web sites and new ingredients that are lower in carbohydrates and calories. I highly recommend the Paleo lifestyle change. The breads, pastas and flour products we eat today are not what our grandparents grew up eating. They are more processed, empty, calories that do nothing for the body except cause bloating and inflammation. Eliminate most grains, sugars and sodas with a little more movement and weight should start coming off.