New Year and You……what is your New Year’s resolution? I have to talk about a very important topic to our Society – Obesity. This is a time of year where health and wellness enjoys a captive audience. Obesity has been a topic in Medicine for over 2000 years. In the 19th century, only 3% of the population was overweight. Today it is estimated that 35 to 60% of children, adolescents and the adult population is overweight or obese. The percentage varies along with the honesty of our self – reporting. Why?
Our food and lifestyles have changed. Food today has far less nutritional value and certainly high in fat. Many foods are processed and have added ingredients to make our brains think it tastes great, therefore we eat more. Our modern lifestyle is also less active and more sedentary, resulting in weight gain. We sit constantly, at our desk, in our cars, watching our children participate in activities, watching television, reading or working on our computers.
How can we reverse this trend? There is no mystery to weight loss. It is calories in, calories out. Your method to success is found in two simple steps.
First, we need to modify our diet. An average woman needs about 2000 calories a day. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Just consuming an extra 100 calories every day can add ten pounds per year. Over five years, that’s an extra fifty pounds. 100 calories isn’t much, you can get it in one handful of chips, french fries or shredded cheese. Patients often ask how to lose or maintain weight. It’s easy. Keep a journal of what you are eating. Write down every bite, the results will be shocking. As long as you burn more than you eat, you will lose. If you are equal, then you will maintain. A small goal each month is attainable and sustainable. Some tips to losing a pound a week: use a smaller plate, eat fewer refined pastas or bread and eat more lean meats, fruits and vegetables. When eating out split something, take your time, eat slowly, and drink water between bites.
Second, try to exercise most days of the week. The good news is that you can spread the exercise throughout the day! Many people break up their exercise instead of doing a single, marathon workout. You do not have to go to a gym to exercise. Think outside of the box – playing with your children, gardening, your favorite sport or walking with a friend. The perfect exercise, no matter your activity, is when you increase your heart rate, break a sweat but can still sing a song or carry on a conversation. If losing weight leads to a longer, healthier life, would it be worth it? Wouldn’t your love ones think so?
For some people, diet and exercise may not be enough. If a person has a Body Mass Index (“BMI”) greater than 30, or a BMI of at least 27 with certain medical conditions, it is possible medication or even surgery will help with weight loss. Some methods affect chemicals in your brain and others decrease your body’s ability to absorb the fat in foods. Talk with your Healthcare Provider about your options.
Here is a list of habits to turn your weight loss into reality.
- Evaluate you eating habits. Are you eating out too much or too late at night? Always on the run?
- Make your calories count. Eat quality, not quantity. Do not drink your calories, i.e. avoid soda.
- If you fail to plan, plan to fail. We cannot be perfect all the time, so accept this and start again.
- Start your day with breakfast. Eat regular meals. If you snack during the day, treat the snack like a mini-meal and should be high in protein. Don’t eat after dinner.
- Eat your food sitting down at a table and from a plate. Eat slowly and savor the taste of food. This allows your stomach to fill and feel full.
- Seek help! Ask your doctor. See a nutritionist. Become tech savvy to assist in your efforts. My favorite resources include websites like; Myfoodpyramid.gov and Pinterest as well as Phone apps like “My Fitness pal” or “Lose it.”
- Cook. If you don’t know how, invest in a cook book or a class. I especially love “The South Beach Diet” cook book or Fine Cooking Magazine. There are many sites that you may even order prepackaged meals for your busy week. They come with instructions on how to cook it and you save time while eating better.
Whatever your goal – start now. Talk with your Healthcare Provider about resources that will help you achieve your goals and a healthier you. This article is brought to you by the Providers of Greenville Women’s Clinic. We are here and happy to help!