Thursday, August 19, 2010

Can you be fat and fit?

In a word, yes. 
  • Research from the Harvard School of Public Health in roughly 100,000 people shows pretty much what one would expect about the population: lots of people are both heavy and unfit; far fewer are thin and unfit; some are both lean and fit; and only a very small number indeed are heavy, but fit. Possible, yes, but exception rather than rule, and for the most obvious of reasons: generally people who become and stay fit are attentive to their health, and a focus on health may be the best bet there is for lasting weight control. 
One-minute weight loss secrets
  • But the exceptions to the rule are worth noting- particularly if you- like my friend Dr. Steven Blair, Director of Research at the Cooper Institute in Dallas, TX, are one of them! Some people are, indeed, fit and healthy- while their body remains defiantly heavy. There are others who simply have excess body fat in places where it does no real harm- notably in the hips, buttocks, and thighs- as opposed to around the middle, where fat is most dangerous. Such people may be “metabolically lean,” even if the eyeball test suggests they are heavy.
  • And the opposite can be true; some people who look thin may be unfit, and may also have an excess of fat around the middle which can place them at high risk for chronic disease. These people are the “lean obese,” looking lean, but having the metabolic profile of the overweight. There is increasing recognition that waist circumference more reliably captures the health risks of body fat than the prevailing body-mass index (BMI).
Secrets of naturally slim women
  • Lastly, there may even be an exception not only to the rule that fat and fit tend to go their separate ways, but to what would seem the obvious issue of which comes first. While we might tend to think that lack of exercise leads to weight gain, a recent study among children in England (3) suggests (but doesn’t prove) that weight gain may lead to less exercise.
  • When all is said and done, maintaining fitness and avoiding fatness matter to the health of most people (4). But you don’t choose what to weigh- you just choose how to take care of yourself. So choose wisely- take good care- and let weigh what may.

Train for your body shape

Bodies come in all different shapes and sizes.

Which one are you - tall or short, squat or not, pear or apple or pumpkin? And just like you don’t squeeze a pear to get apple juice, you don’t train a “tall-ey” the same as a “short-y”. 

Below are the 3 most common body shapes and how to train them:
1. Short and Squat with a rounded bottom (aka – the cumquat, the pear, the mandarin) 
  • If you can vote, but can’t ride on the rollercoaster at Dreamworld cause you haven't hit the height restriction, then you are not very tall... agreed?
  • In my time as a trainer, I’d say that 20% of clients have fallen into this category. And once they understood that no matter how many lunges they did, their legs weren’t going to get any longer, we got some real good training done.
  • With these guys and girls my aim is get them doing resistance training but with higher repeititions - 20 plus. How muscle grows is by lifting heavy and if your thigh bone is not much longer than your arm bone, then extra muscle will make you look like a Eastern Bloc powerlifter. 
  • So high reps ahoy and go for exercises that have a big range of motion... walking lunges, side lunges and step ups are your key for your wheels, while lat pulldowns and rows go good for up top. Not too much chest/shoulder work, cause it can make the area look more prop forward than princess.
  • And cardio - do as the Kenyans do and go long! Nice and slow, keep your body burning fat not sugar and you’ll start to look lither, lengthier and elongated.
Training do’s:
  • Higher reps/big movements
  • Steady state cardio… long, slow distance is great
  • Keep an eye on sugar and overall caloric intake.
2. Tall and thin with the accent on slim (aka the Kidman, the Bean pole, the Drink of Water)
  • Those with long length of bone have a different set of rules to follow. If you only see eye to eye with NBA players then training your body with resistance is all about working with your lever lengths. 
  • From past experience tall folk have trouble adding a little muscle to their frame. Quite often there can be a lot of instability around joints and that makes it tricky to get the right balance between training hard and training smart.
  • Slow and steady gains are the way to go, working with controlled movements. Still, stick with the favourites, like squats to build some junk in the trunk and planks to strengthen the core muscles, and have a good look at your diet to make sure you're eating enough and your body ain't eating itself.
  • As for cardio for fat loss, well my architectural friend... if you're wearing a size 6 from the kid's range and can grate parmesan cheese on your spine then maybe you can miss that spin class. 
Training do’s:
  • Build VMO strength (muscle around knee)
  • Increase stability around shoulder
  • Work with control… slowly does it.
3. Not Tall, not short, not fat, not thin (aka The Jane Doe, The Sally Average, The Girl Next Door)
  • Hey, excuse me for making it seem droll, because being average is awesome! You can get shoes at sales, fly economy in comfort and not piss people off when you sit in front of them at the movies. It also means that you can pretty much go for broke with your training, depending on past injuries and what not.
  • With a green light to train resistance hard 'n' heavy and permission to pound the cardio trail with purpose, this is the category where most of my clients live, and the body shape that experiences the most consistent results.
  • Having said that, this is also the group that tend to know what to do, but don't do it. Because they've never really had a problem buying clothes and they fall into the "healthy" BMI and weight ranges, they run the gauntlet of no exercise and bad eating until BAM!... they're 40 and things change!
  • Then they come see me to try and right the wrongs of a lifetime in 8 weeks. Seriously, for not much time invested you "people of the average" can have bodies that work and look good. For a little bit more effort, then the rewards are expediential. 
Training do’s:
  • Train with resistance… your body will thrive!
  • Embark on a great stretch program to keep limber and ward off injuries
  • Set a goal, find an event and do whatever it takes to keep you training 
Exercise works for every body. The benefits are indisputable There are lots of other shapes and sizes that make this world go round, so please share more ideas on what suits your style.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Smart and Strong


Age 40, Height 5'6", Was 187 lbs, Lost 50 lbs* , Weight 137 lbs As of 2/13/2010

People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

I needed to learn not to get angry with myself if I went off-plan for a week, to simply pick right up where I left off. Katharine is stronger, happier and more energetic, and she's sure that she is on her way to her best decade yet. I wasn’t overweight before graduate school, but I gained weight while pursuing my PhD.

I lived my life “above the neck," focusing on others and my intellectual work, first as a graduate student and then as a psychologist working with people affected by HIV. I was proud of my accomplishments and loved my work, but I was deeply unhappy with my body. I ate to cope with the occasional challenges of being a young faculty member, to participate in family rituals (I’m a Southerner, after all), and to cope with the grief of losing clients who died from their HIV disease.

Food is not the answer
I got in shape, including training for and participating in an Avon three-day 60-mile walk for breast cancer in 2002, and walking the Honolulu Marathon in 2004. But I didn’t change my diet, and so I remained heavy, with a BMI in the “obese" range and with mildly elevated cholesterol. Then in January 2007, my dad, who was a huge part of helping me become a smart and independent woman, was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. The anger and stress I felt were overwhelming. One day while he was in hospice care and I knew we were going to lose him, I was so upset I went out for pizza. As I sat eating the pizza in a daze, I realized that I couldn’t make this go away with food. My dad was going to die whether I ate pizza or not. Dad fought courageously, but died in July 2007. I tried to keep my head up, thanks to the support of many wonderful friends, but the next few months were extremely hard, and I ate to cope with my grief.

Then, I had an important realization. I knew that I could best honor dad by making the right choices for my own health, so I recommitted to Weight Watchers Online and started following the POINTS® Weight-Loss System (I had been a subscriber before but hadn’t stuck with it). I also started a running program, began lifting weights and doing crunches and pushups, and most importantly stayed with the plan. I kept track of everything I ate using the onlinePOINTS Tracker, and ate as many fruits and vegetables as possible during the day. I spent a lot of time on the Message Boards and made new friends who were invaluable encouragers along the way.

Perfectionist no more
I had difficulties along the way. The hardest part was learning to let go of my perfectionist nature. I needed to learn not to get angry with myself if I went off-plan for a week, to simply pick right up where I left off. I had to learn to set limits and stick to them and find balance. I further learned to be grateful for the food I ate. Taking time to appreciate all of the effort that goes into making a meal made me able to slow down when I was eating it.

Today, my BMI is normal, my blood work is normal, and my resting heart rate and blood pressure put me in an "athletic" classification. Now, in my role as an associate dean in a graduate college of public health, I feel I am a much better example of good health for everyone with whom I work and live. I am studying to become certified as a personal trainer, and plan to use my training as a psychologist, my experience with Weight Watchers, and my knowledge about fitness training to become a fitness and life coach for others who are wanting to improve their fitness and must work through body image and emotional issues along the way. I am stronger, happier, more energetic, and am sure that I am on my way to my best decade so far.

Katherine’s Tips
  • Track everything and remember you can’t accurately eyeball food portions.
  • If I bring a microwaveable lunch to work, I like to drink a big glass of water while I'm waiting for it to cool off right out of the oven. Sometimes I forget to keep up with my water during the day and this gets me back on track.
  • Don’t “write off" a form of exercise until you have really given it a chance. I never thought I would enjoy running, but the Couch to 5K program changed me into a runner and no one was more surprised at that than me!
  • If you are an emotional eater, like I was, try exercising first when you feel a strong emotion.
  • Practice gratitude during the journey. When I was heavy I had awful thoughts about my body, until I started practicing small “gratitudes" daily. I found myself on the treadmill simply being grateful I had toes to help me balance as I walked. It changed my entire perspective on my body.
  • Don’t treat POINTS values like coins to be hoarded, but like energy to burn to help fuel my busy life and my workouts.
  • I found that writing in my blog on Weight called “Gratitude Every Day" could help me overcome eating challenges.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

11 Small Tricks for Big Weight Loss

If you're working with a daily calorie intake of somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,400 to 1,600 calories, then yes, every calorie does count. The following little tricks may not seem like they have a huge effect, but when you add up these changes over a period of time, they'll translate into a leaner and stronger body.

Blot. Use a paper napkin to blot a teaspoon of fat off a pizza slice. At a slice a week, that's more than a whole cup of fat you won't eat—or wear—this year.

Drink more milk. 
Consuming 1,800 milligrams of calcium a day could block the absorption of about 80 calories. Fill your coffee mug with skim or 1 percent milk, drink it down to the level you want in your coffee, then pour in your caffeine fix.

Buy cut veggies. 
They cost more, but they'll pay dividends later—because you're more likely to snack on them than on some other, less healthy food.

Get watered down.
A recent German study showed that drinking water burns calories. Drinking about two cups of cold water—no warmer than 72 degrees—used up roughly 25 calories. Drink a liter a day and you're talking five pounds a year.

Go smaller.
Use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. Studies show that putting your portions on smaller dishes means you'll end up eating less at a meal.

Dilute juice.
Add water to your fruit juice to reduce calories.

Make your drinks count.
Have a V8 or tomato juice instead of a Diet Coke.

Have a power snack prepared.
Mix three different kinds of beans and sprinkle in some low-cal Italian dressing. Have it as a snack all week.

Think about eating.
Eat without doing anything else—no TV, no reading, no working.

Stop mindless snacking.
Chew a strong-flavored gum like cinnamon while you're cooking. Sneaking a taste of the food will be less appealing.

Tighten your belt.
When you feel a craving and temptation to gorge, tighten your belt a notch—as a reminder of the size you'd like to be.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lose More Long Term

Now that you've lost some weight, how do you keep it off—and lose some more?

To lose weight—or keep it off—long term, continue to write down what you eat, make good food choices and stay active every day. But you also need to start planning how you'll continue this healthier lifestyle into your future.

The plan for Week 5—and beyond:
Assess your 'before' and 'after.' Go back and review your original Baseline Diet Diary, where you tracked your previous eating and activity patterns. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Has your new lifestyle dramatically changed? If so, will it be impossible to keep it up?
  • Does this new lifestyle look similar to your previous lifestyle, with tweaks that improve eating habits and raise activity level? If so, have these lifestyle changes produced satisfactory results?
  • When you look back on what you used to eat, does it entice you back? Or do you feel a little repulsed by all the fried foods and the enormous portions?
  • Is exercise becoming a regular part of your day?
  • Is it easier for you to make time for fitness sessions?

Noticing and assessing the changes you've made—and determining how easy (or not) it will be to maintain them—will help you shape your lifestyle going forward. You'll be able to know which approaches to better eating and regular exercise are effective for you. Read this week's Eat Smart tips.

Keep on tracking. Don't expect to eat perfectly and exercise intensely every day for the rest of your life. You'll have some days where you slack off on workouts, or eat or drink too much. Just don't allow a slip-up to mess you up for good. Be consistent. Track your eating and exercise habits on My Wellness Center.

Move every day and try new forms of exercise. For most people, the only way to keep the weight off is to exercise almost every day of the week. Devise strategies so you enjoy it and can stick with it! It's natural for your motivation to wax and wane over time. So go with the flow. (See "Walk the Fat Off" to the right.) If walking or your gym routine suddenly feels tedious, find something else to do. You may surprise yourself and discover a new obsession, like biking or a rock-climbing gym. The past weeks have been the kickoff to the rest of your life. You know what it takes to feel better and look better. The challenge is not only doing it, but staying motivated. So find ways to stay inspired and on track. You can do it!

Keep from Slipping Up

Slip-ups can be an inspiration to persevere.

When you experience a slip-up in your diet and exercise plan, don't use it as an excuse to quit. See it for what it is—a bump in your road to better health and a healthier body weight. A little indulgence or laziness every now and then isn't what makes you fat and out of shape. It's the pattern of always indulging and being lazy that keeps you overweight. This week, I'll help you find positive ways to prevent and respond to slip-ups and stay on a healthy course.

The Plan for Week 4:
Snack smart. Keeping your snacking patterns in mind, this week focus on eating snacks that you enjoy and that are nutritious and filling. If you frequently find yourself away from home when it's time for a snack, make sure you have good choices on hand. Fruit—fresh, canned and drained, or dried—is always a good idea. Also, try yogurt, string cheese, instant oatmeal, meal-replacement bars and shakes, trail mix, healthful energy bars, and peanut butter on low-fat crackers. And nuts—the perfect snack for any occasion. They're filling, nutritious, convenient—and not as fattening as you might think! See this week'sEat Smart tips to learn more about nuts. Track your portion sizes, calories and other eating habits at My Wellness Center.

Find ways to de-stress. Eating is a common way to deal with stress or emotional ups and downs. That's because eating favorite foods, especially those that are high in fat and sugar, produces pleasure reactions in the brain—the same responses as other coping methods like drinking alcohol or taking drugs. If you are an emotional eater, find healthier ways to deal with stress. Some activities that can make you feel good, have fun and relax include getting a massage; taking a nap; meditating; doing creative activities like painting or playing music; knitting; taking a dance lesson; or calling a friend.

Go the extra mile. Use workouts to counterbalance those days when you eat more than you should. If you know you'll be going to a party or dinner where you're likely overeat, make that day's walk or other cardio workout a little longer or a little harder. If you binged and didn't anticipate it, try to make up for it during the next few days by adding more minutes and higher-intensity intervals to your workouts. Extra steps will help balance out excesses elsewhere.

Bump Up the Calorie Burn

How to lose weight by being more active.

This week you're going to help your weight loss along by increasing your overall energy expenditure.

The plan for Week 3:
Eat six meals or snacks every day. If you are on a strict diet and/or you eat infrequently, you're not maximizing what is known as the thermic effect of food. The process of eating, breaking down and absorbing nutrients in food usually accounts for 8 percent to 10 percent of your daily energy expenditure, or about 200 to 400 calories for the average active person. Eating too little or waiting long periods between meals can minimize the effect. Some experts speculate that eating small, frequent meals has the potential to speed up your metabolism.

Keep in mind that eating protein with carbohydrates seems to induce a greater thermic effect—getting sufficient protein along with eating more "good" carbs tends to make you feel satiated, so you'll eat less and still feel full. And the greater amounts of fiber in the less-processed carbs crowd out extra calories. That helps your body burn more stored energy, and you'll therefore lose more weight. Continue to log everything you eat this week and how many times you eat. Make sure to meet a quota of six times per day. Read this week's Eat Smart tips; you can also track your eating habits on My Wellness Center.

Be more active all day. You can eat more if you move more. But to avoid gaining weight, you'll have to eat less if you don't move much. So the key to avoiding the starving-yourself feeling of deprivation that you get on many diets is to be more active. If you're more active, you can eat and feel satisfied, but still control your weight.

Burn more calories by walking. Exercising at higher intensities increases your burn rate, which is one reason why the Walk-the-Fat-Off routines include intervals of walking faster or more vigorously. And exercising harder provides another payoff: After a longer, high-intensity workout, your body stays revved up, burning extra calories even after you've gotten off the treadmill. A post-cardio afterburn could mean a loss of anywhere from 15 to 50 extra calories on top of what you burned while exercising.

This week's routines include more high-intensity intervals. Push yourself to work as hard as you comfortably can. Simply walking fast may be intense enough if you're new to exercise. If you're a seasoned walker, slipping in a few seconds of jogging or stair climbing may give you the boost you need. Challenge yourself a little more this week. (See "Walk the Fat Off" to the right.)

Change Course to Stay on Course

How to not succumb to diet fatigue.

It's time to start changing course to stay on course. Figure out which new habits, foods or workout times are feeling too rigid to realistically keep up. And start modifying those diet and exercise behaviors so that you can stick with the program.

The plan for Week 2:
Focus on high-fiber plant foods. You might not always be able to whip up your special low-fat menus. Or you may find yourself out with friends or colleagues—and margaritas and chicken wings. This week'sEat Smart tips focus is to improve your diet by adding more fruits and veggies to all your meals and snacks. You can also track your diet at My Wellness Center.

Walk more (or figure out workout alternatives). When you start easing off the strict calorie control, you can make up the difference by burning more calories through exercise. It's important to stay with the Walk-the-Fat-Off plan and increase the length and intensity of your workouts. The Walk-the-Fat-Off Plan provides intensity recommendations by the minute so you can follow the routine doing other aerobic activities besides walking. It's always better to do something than put off exercise altogether. If body aches are slowing you down (after consulting with a health professional) see if there are movement options that don't aggravate your problem areas. (See "Walk the Fat Off" to the right.)

Spot your successes. Your weight loss may be minimal at this point, so don't focus on fat or scale weight. But that doesn't mean you're not already achieving success. These are all signs of success: If your stamina is improving; you've found a new tasty, nutritious food; your thighs or butt feel a wee bit firmer; it's easier than you thought to stop overeating; you feel energetic and have a post-exercise glow; and living a healthier lifestyle is easier than you expected. Congrats!

Start the Weight Loss Challenge

Are you ready to lose 10 pounds in five weeks? Then start now.

The plan for Week 1:
Figure out in advance what you will eat for each day's meal and snack. Write out a daily menu, spreading your caloric intake evenly between your meals and snacks. On this plan, you will need to knock off 500 calories daily from your normal eating habits, as detailed in your Baseline Diet Diary (if you haven't kept a baseline diet diary, do this first). You can also track your eating and exercise habits on My Wellness Center. This week's focus is to improve your diet by eating more nutritious and lower-calorie foods. Reduce calories in small ways—choosing lower-fat items, substituting lower-calorie spread and dressings, cutting out the liquid calories, and so on. For more ideas, read this week's Eat Smart tips. Log your meals and snacks in a Daily Diet Diary (download .pdf forms). Keep a running calorie total to ensure that you're within your target range.

Walk the fat off. Follow a daily walking routine. No matter what, fit in some exercise every day. But if a workout feels too strenuous, back off slightly. (See "Walk the Fat Off" to the right.)

Notice what feels easy and what's tough. Changing your diet and activity level may seem relatively easy this week, when you're off to a fresh start. But to stick to a plan, it's important to recognize trouble spots early on and find ways around them. If you're hooked on sodas, for example, you may find it hard to stay away from them. Instead of just giving up sodas, you should find a satisfying substitute that has fewer calories. That means experimenting with different diet flavors, trying various brands of bottled water, or bringing your own unsweetened iced tea to work so you won't be tempted by the vending machines. Whatever your weakness, try to think of similar strategies that will ensure you won't deviate from your path to weight loss.

Have a Plan ?

Can you really do it this time?

If you have a weight problem, it can feel hopeless. The heavier you get and the longer that you've been overweight, the more impossible it seems to be able to drop weight and keep it off. It's hard to believe that this time, it will work. But it can.

Even if you have biological tendencies that make it easy to gain and hard to lose weight, you can be leaner and fitter than you are now.

If you are overweight, there's a good chance you could be making smarter lifestyle choices. To lose weight, you'll have to train yourself to substitute poor choices with ones that will help you drop pounds.

Now is the time to take stock of your behaviors. This first step—a reality check of the eating and exercise choices you make most of the time—may be the most challenging part of making a change. But it's crucial for achieving lasting success.

So, to get ready to follow the Lose 10 Pounds in 5 Weeks plan, here's what you need to do:

Step 1. 
Take three days of this week to write down everything you eat. This will help you identify your specific eating patterns and spot areas where you can improve. This will be your Baseline Diet Diary.

Step 2. 
Learn to improve your diet. Read through these Eat Smart tips to get started.

Step 3. 
One of the simplest ways to squeeze fitness into your life is to walk more. Start the Walk-the-Fat-Off plan; each week has a designated walking program.

If you follow the Lose 10 Pounds in 5 Weeks plan, not only can you start to get in the best shape of your life, you'll feel happier and more optimistic. Eating better will fuel you and give your body the nutrients it needs. Your daily walks will lift your mood and your self-confidence.

Welcome to the beginning of the rest of your healthy life!

This diet and exercise program should not be followed without first consulting a health-care professional. If you have any special health conditions requiring attention, you should consult regularly with your health care professional regarding possible modification of this program.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Control Your Weight

Changing the way you approach weight loss can help you be more successful at weight management. Most people who are trying to lose weight focus on just the goal of weight loss. However, setting the right goals and focusing on lifestyle changes such as following a healthy eating plan, watching portion sizes, being physically active, and reducing sedentary time are much more effective.

Assessing Your Weight and Health Risk

Assessment of weight and health risk involves using three key measures:
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Waist circumference
  • Risk factors for diseases and conditions associated with obesity
Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI is a useful measure of overweight and obesity. It is calculated from your height and weight. BMI is an estimate of body fat and a good gauge of your risk for diseases that can occur with more body fat. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.

Although BMI can be used for most men and women, it does have some limits:
  • It may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build.
  • It may underestimate body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle.
Use the BMI Calculator or BMI Tables to estimate your body fat. The BMI score means the following:

  • Underweight  :: Below 18.5
  • Normal           :: 18.5 - 24.9
  • Overweight    :: 25.0 - 29.9
  • Obesity          :: 30.0 and above
Waist Circumference
Measuring waist circumference helps screen for possible health risks that come with overweight and obesity. If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This risk goes up with a waist size that is greater than 35 inches for women or greater than 40 inches for men. To correctly measure your waist, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones. Measure your waist just after you breathe out.

The table Risks of Obesity-Associated Diseases by BMI and Waist Circumference provides you with an idea of whether your BMI combined with your waist circumference increases your risk for developing obesity-associated diseases or conditions.

Risk Factors for Diseases and Conditions Associated With Obesity

Along with being overweight or obese, the following conditions will put you at greater risk for heart disease and other conditions:
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol)
  • Low HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol)
  • High triglycerides
  • High blood glucose (sugar)
  • Family history of premature heart disease
  • Physical inactivity
  • Cigarette smoking
For people who are considered obese (BMI greater than or equal to 30) or those who are overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) and have two or more risk factors, it is recommended that you lose weight. Even a small weight loss (between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight) will help lower your risk of developing diseases associated with obesity. People who are overweight, do not have a high waist measurement, and have fewer than two risk factors may need to prevent further weight gain rather than lose weight.

Talk to your doctor to see whether you are at an increased risk and whether you should lose weight. Your doctor will evaluate your BMI, waist measurement, and other risk factors for heart disease.

The good news is even a small weight loss (between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight) will help lower your risk of developing those diseases.

Why Is a Healthy Weight Important?

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health and can help you prevent and control many diseases and conditions. If you are overweight or obese, you are at higher risk of developing serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers. That is why maintaining a healthy weight is so important: It helps you lower your risk for developing these problems, helps you feel good about yourself, and gives you more energy to enjoy life. 

What Is Overweight and Obesity?
  • Overweight is having extra body weight from muscle, bone, fat, and/or water. Obesity is having a high amount of extra body fat. Body mass index (BMI) is a useful measure of overweight and obesity. The information on this Web site will provide you with information about BMI (including limitations of this measure) and how to reach and stay at a healthy weight. Talk to your health care provider if you are concerned about your BMI.

What Factors Contribute To a Healthy Weight?
  • Many factors can contribute to a person’s weight. These factors include environment, family history and genetics, metabolism (the way your body changes food and oxygen into energy), and behavior or habits.

Energy Balance
  • Energy balance is important for maintaining a healthy weight. The amount of energy or calories you get from food and drinks (energy IN) is balanced with the energy your body uses for things like breathing, digesting, and being physically active (energy OUT):
  • The same amount of energy IN and energy OUT over time = weight stays the same (energy balance)
  • More energy IN than OUT over time = weight gain
  • More energy OUT than IN over time = weight loss
  • To maintain a healthy weight, your energy IN and OUT don’t have to balance exactly every day. It’s the balance over time that helps you maintain a healthy weight.

You can reach and maintain a healthy weight if you:
  • Follow a healthy diet, and if you are overweight or obese, reduce your daily intake by 500 calories for weight loss
  • Are physically active
  • Limit the time you spend being physically inactive

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Guide to Behavior Change

Your Weight Is Important
Over the past few years it has become clear that weight is an important health issue. Some people who need to lose weight for their health don't recognize it, while others who don't need to lose weight want to get thinner for cosmetic reasons. We understand that in some ways your weight is different from, for example, your cholesterol level or your blood pressure, because you can't see what these are by looking at someone. Many patients have had health care providers who approached their weight in a less-than-sensitive or helpful manner. Some patients may have had health care encounters in which they felt blamed, but not helped. Successful weight management is a long-term challenge.

Weight can affect a person's self-esteem. Excess weight is highly visible and evokes some powerful reactions, however unfairly, from other people and from the people who carry the excess weight. The amount of weight loss needed to improve your health may be much less than you wish to lose, when you consider how you evaluate your weight. Research has shown that your health can be greatly improved by a loss of 5–10 percent of your starting weight. That doesn't mean you have to stop there, but it does mean that an initial goal of losing 5–10 percent of your starting weight is both realistic and valuable.

Behaviors That Will Help You Lose Weight and Maintain It

Set the Right Goals
Setting the right goals is an important first step. Most people trying to lose weight focus on just that one goal: weight loss. However, the most productive areas to focus on are the dietary and physical activity changes that will lead to long-term weight change. Successful weight managers are those who select two or three goals at a time that are manageable.

Useful goals should be (1) specific; (2) attainable (doable); and (3) forgiving (less than perfect). "Exercise more" is a great goal, but it's not specific. "Walk 5 miles every day" is specific and measurable, but is it doable if you're just starting out? "Walk 30 minutes every day" is more attainable, but what happens if you're held up at work one day and there's a thunderstorm during your walking time another day? "Walk 30 minutes, 5 days each week" is specific, doable, and forgiving. In short, a great goal!

Nothing Succeeds Like Success
Shaping is a behavioral technique in which you select a series of short-term goals that get closer and closer to the ultimate goal (e.g., an initial reduction of fat intake from 40 percent of calories to 35 percent of calories, and later to 30 percent). It is based on the concept that "nothing succeeds like success." Shaping uses two important behavioral principles: (1) consecutive goals that move you ahead in small steps are the best way to reach a distant point; and (2) consecutive rewards keep the overall effort invigorated.
Reward Success (But Not With Food)

An effective reward is something that is desirable, timely, and dependent on meeting your goal. The rewards you choose may be material (e.g., a movie or music CD, or a payment toward buying a more costly item) or an act of self-kindness (e.g., an afternoon off from work or just an hour of quiet time away from family). Frequent small rewards, earned for meeting smaller goals, are more effective than bigger rewards that require a long, difficult effort.

Balance Your Food Checkbook
"Self-monitoring" refers to observing and recording some aspect of your behavior, such as calorie intake, servings of fruits and vegetables, amount of physical activity, etc., or an outcome of these behaviors, such as weight. Self-monitoring of a behavior can be used at times when you're not sure how you're doing, and at times when you want the behavior to improve. Self-monitoring of a behavior usually moves you closer to the desired direction and can produce "real-time" records for review by you and your health care provider. For example, keeping a record of your physical activity can let you and your provider know quickly how you're doing. When the record shows that your activity is increasing, you'll be encouraged to keep it up. Some patients find that specific self-monitoring forms make it easier, while others prefer to use their own recording system.

While you may or may not wish to weigh yourself frequently while losing weight, regular monitoring of your weight will be essential to help you maintain your lower weight. When keeping a record of your weight, a graph may be more informative than a list of your weights. When weighing yourself and keeping a weight graph or table, however, remember that one day's diet and exercise patterns won't have a measurable effect on your weight the next day. Today's weight is not a true measure of how well you followed your program yesterday, because your body's water weight will change from day to day, and water changes are often the result of things that have nothing to do with your weight-management efforts.

Avoid a Chain Reaction
Stimulus (cue) control involves learning what social or environmental cues seem to encourage undesired eating, and then changing those cues. For example, you may learn from reflection or from self-monitoring records that you're more likely to overeat while watching television, or whenever treats are on display by the office coffee pot, or when around a certain friend. You might then try to change the situation, such as by separating the association of eating from the cue (don't eat while watching television), avoiding or eliminating the cue (leave the coffee room immediately after pouring coffee), or changing the circumstances surrounding the cue (plan to meet your friend in a nonfood setting). In general, visible and reachable food items are often cues for unplanned eating.

Get the Fullness Message
Changing the way you go about eating can make it easier to eat less without feeling deprived. It takes 15 or more minutes for your brain to get the message that you've been fed. Eating slowly will help you feel satisfied. Eating lots of vegetables and fruits can make you feel fuller. Another trick is to use smaller plates so that moderate portions do not appear too small. Changing your eating schedule, or setting one, can be helpful, especially if you tend to skip, or delay, meals and overeat later.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Obesity Causes

Our main energy store is fat, an energy intake greater than energy expenditure unavoidably causes an increase of adipose tissue, which is always accompanied by an increase of lean body mass, and thus an increase of body weight.
Since body energy expenditure is proportional to body weight, an increase of the latter also causes an increase of energy expenditure. The body weight will then stabilize when the energy expenditure of the weight gain will equal the increase of energy intake, the balance condition being re-established. Exactly the opposite happens if the energy intake is permanently reduced.

Failure does not count. If you accept this, you'll be successful. What causes most people to fail is that after one failure, they will stop trying.
--Frank Burford--

Level of physical activity : 
There are patient who reports a history of progressive lifelong weight gain with no progressive lifelong increase in food intake. Moreover, it is quite possible that the energy intake has actually remained the same, the progressive weight gain being caused by decreased energy expenditure due either to the progressive reduction of physical activity that generally accompanies weight gain 

Aging :
The progressive reduction of lean body mass which inevitably occurs with aging causes increase in weight due to fall in the body's capacity to burnfat. The physiological loss of lean body mass that occurs with aging, if the energy intake remains the same, compulsorily causes the gain of a body weight which, as we know, is composed of lean and fat, and thus consumes less and must be gained in a greater amount to produce the same consumption of what was lost.

Body Composition: 
Individuals with equal body weight may have different energy intakes, and individuals with the same energy intake may have different body weights, and a very heavy individual may have an energy intake much smaller than that of another much lighter individual, and vice versa. In summary, certainly the energy intake determines body weight and its variations, but the size of body weight and of its variations is determined by body composition and by its variations. 

Genetic factors: 
Obesity tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic cause. The mechanism through which genetics might effect weight gain include reduced dietary-induced thermogenesis, lower Resting Metabolic Rate, decreased thyroid functioning, decreased lipoprotein lipase activity, lower Basal body temperatures and decreased amount of more metabolically active brown fat. Families also share diet and lifestyle habits that may contribute to obesity. Separating these from genetic factors is often difficult. Even so, science shows that heredity is linked to obesity.

In affluent countries obesity is more common in the lower socio-economic groups. In developing countries it occurs in the prosperous elite. Society too carries its pressure on individuals to either be too thin (model-like) or fat as a sign of prosperity. 

Lifestyle behaviors:
such as what a woman eats. Americans tend to eat high-fat foods, and put taste and convenience ahead of nutrition. Although you cannot change your genetic makeup, you can change your eating habits.

Psychological factors:
may also influence eating habits. Many people eat in response to negative emotions such as boredom, sadness, or anger. Most overweight people have no more psychological problems than people of average weight. Still, up to 10 percent of people who are mildly obese and try to lose weight on their own or through commercial weight loss programs have binge eating disorder. This disorder is even more common in people who are severely obese.

During a binge eating episode, people eat large amounts of food and feel that they cannot control how much they are eating. Those with the most severe binge eating problems are also likely to have symptoms of depression and low self-esteem. These people may have more difficultylosing weight and keeping it off than people without binge eating problems. If you are upset by binge eating behavior and think you might have binge eating disorder, seek help from a health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker.

Endocrine factors: 
An endocrine influence on body fat is seen both in normal physiological situations and in pathological state. The normal fat content of young adult women is about twice that of young men and pregnancy is characterized by an increase in body fat. Obesity in women begins at puberty, during pregnancy or at menopause. Obesity frequently but not invariably, accompanies hypothyroidism, hypogonadism, hypopituitarian and Cushing's Syndrome. 

Other causes of obesity
Some illnesses can lead to obesity or a tendency to gain weight. These include depression, and certain neurological problems that can lead to overeating. Also, drugs such as steroids, oral contraceptives, phenothiazines, insulin and some antidepressants may cause appetite stimulation & consequently weight gain. A doctor can tell whether there are underlying medical conditions that are causing weight gain or making weight loss difficult

If you have a slice of pie you can always hop back on the bandwagon immediately. There is no use in calling it quits over a small defeat. Eating the slice of pie is not failure - it is a minor setback. It is getting knocked down. but when you don't pick yourself up and keep going - that IS FAILURE! If you let one tiny defeat keep you down - you are a failure. But if you keep going - YOU HAVE AND WILL SUCCEED FOR SURE! You just remember that, darn it! No matter what happens you can keep driving along. DO NOT QUIT!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Losing Weight While Working

Lose Weight at the Office
It's not your imagination: Sitting at a desk all day really can make your ass as wide as your swivel chair. In a recent survey by, 49 percent of office workers said they had gained weight at their current jobs, and 28 percent of those had piled on more than 10 pounds. Try these easy adjustments, so you can work 9 to 5 without gaining 10 to 20. 

Stand And Deliver
James Levine, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic professor, found that we burn about 1,500 fewer calories per day than we did 150 years ago. That deficit could mean a 10-pound gain in one year. Chained to your desk? Get an adjustable-height work station so you can stand for part of the day. Your posture will improve, and you'll burn a third more calories. The average set up runs $350. 

Dial "C" For Calorie
Get a headset and walk while you take calls. "Use a pedometer to track how many steps you take," says Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer and physi ologist for the American Council on Exercise. An extra 500 a day burns 25 extra calories--in a year, you could drop two pounds without changing your diet. Sure, coworkers might make fun of you. But you can laugh all the way to the beach.

Schedule Snacks
An American Dietetic Asso ciation report found that 75 percent of workers eat lunch at their desks at least two to three times per week. But that kind of multitasking can lead to multi chins, so minimize mindless eating by booking snack appointments in your calendar. When an e-reminder pops up, step away from work and enjoy your food. If you're aware of what you eat when, you'll be less likely to nibble all day. 

Lean to the Left
If you have an emergency stash of Combos, keep them in a left-hand desk drawer. Researchers at Dartmouth College found that we're more likely to reach for things to the right of our field of vision regardless of handedness. Even better, keep fruit on your desk in a prime right-hand spot so it will be an obvious snack choice.

Go Green
Fill your mug with green tea. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who drank oolong tea fortified with green tea extract every day for three months lost 2.4 more pounds than people who drank plain oolong tea. Catechins, antioxidants found in green tea, may stimulate the body to burn calories and decrease fat. See "Think Outside the Bag" for tasty (and healthy) eats made with green tea

Monday, July 12, 2010

5 Easy Ways to Lose Weight Fast

Set yourself up for body-trimming success with these five lifestyle tweaks.

Call in a support crew
Obesity loves company : Your odds of packing on pounds rise when your friends, family, and even neighbors chunk up. The good news: The reverse also seems to be true. A study in the International Journal of Obesity found that the spouses of dieters enrolled in weight-loss programs also lost flab—without trying. The average loss by matrimony was five pounds in a year, higher in some cases (one woman lost 14 pounds to her husband's 35). If no one you know is cutting calories, it's easy to find a diet BFF using a free service like Download the free software to your cell, enter your preferences and location, and you'll be alerted when a match is found.

Eyeball ingredients
A 2008 USDA report found that consumers read labels less often today than they did 10 years ago. Other studies have shown that shoppers who do often end up confused—who wouldn't be, when a tiny bottle of OJ turns out to be 2.5 servings? "Labels can lie," says Tanya Zuckerbrot, M.S., R.D., author ofThe F-Factor Diet. Sign up at, which lists red-flag ingredients like artificial sweeteners and MSG (recently linked to an increased risk of being overweight). Easier: Swear off any packaged food whose first four ingredients you don't recognize.

Tweak your sleep schedule
Too many of us treat weight loss like a 9-to-5 job and let loose once we're off the clock. Last year, an article in the journal Obesity reported that dieters consume more calories from Saturday morning through Sunday night than they do during the week—enough, the study authors estimated, to add up to a nine-pound gain in a year. So what's the cure for weekend splurges? In a word, routine. "One reason people eat more on the weekends is that they sleep late, miss breakfast, and compensate with a big lunch," Zuckerbrot says. Set your alarm so you can stick to your weekday routine.

Dust off your stove
To keep the lead out, be a little more like the Iron Chef. A 2008 study in theReview of Agricultural Economics found that going out for a sit-down lunch rings up an average of 184 more calories than brown-bagging it. That number climbs to 227 if you chow on fast food. What's worse, you probably have no clue how fatty your entree really is: According to recent data from the University of Arkansas, the average diner underestimates each meal by up to 600 calories. Cook at home just three days a week and you could lose a pound a week.

Invent incentives
There's motivation, and then there's motivation. A recent study (one we wish we'd taken part in) found that people whose employers paid them for every pound they lost dropped as much as 12 percent more weight than those who received no dough. Boss not ready to fork over cash? Make your own reward. "Put aside cash for every pound you lose," says licensed psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser of VH1's Celebrity Fit Club. Use it to treat yourself to a manicure or earmark it for a favorite charity. If moolah doesn't move you, buy a teeny bikini and hang it on your refrigerator, or print out a photo of a downsized version of yourself.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Want to Lose Fat? Chill out (3)

Feeling stressed can trigger more than migraine headaches or a meltdown. You could become obese! Learn how to chill out and keep your body fat in check
Why You Should Drive Yourself to Distraction
Unless you join a monastery, you can't avoid stress or stop your body's automatic reaction to it. But don't start pumping out cortisol just yet. There's still plenty you can do. Try these easy tension- relieving strategies:

Give in The Montclair puzzle studies indicated that women tend to eat more unhealthy foods only when they are both battling stress and restricting calories in order to lose weight. That clearly indicates, Zellner says, that women should stop depriving themselves. "Instead of viewing certain foods as 'off limits,' they should view them as things they can have occasionally," she says. Try budgeting one or two small treats into your day instead of avoiding them entirely--that way, you won't risk going overboard when your willpower finally snaps.

Sleep Yes, this might sound like the last thing you're capable of when you're strung out, but here's a bit of news that will encourage you to get some z's: "A person who gets less than six hours of sleep can have up to 50 percent more cortisol in the evening than someone who gets eight hours," Talbott says. Sleep deprivation also increases the amount of ghrelin (the hormone that triggers appetite) and decreases leptin (an appetite suppressor). You may not even need as much snooze time as you think: A study in the journal Sleep showed that seven or eight hours a night is sufficient and that anything less or more could lead to weight gain. 

Wait Unless you're a member of a bomb squad or Naomi Campbell's entourage, you probably don't live in a state of constant unrelenting stress. If you only face isolated outbreaks of tension, like traffic jams and dentist appointments, chances are good that you can beat cortisol's damaging effects. Like all hormones, it doesn't linger in your blood stream forever, so if you can avoid giving in to the urge to stuff yourself silly for the two to three hours it takes cortisol to leave your system, you'll be home free. "Distraction can be a really great strategy," says psychotherapist Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., author of The Food and Feelings Workbook. "Flipping through a magazine or doing a hobby you enjoy, like knitting, can succeed even where yoga might fail for someone who isn't a fan.

Get therapy Don't wait for vacation to book your next massage--studies have linked the occasional back rub to lower cortisol. In one such study, a 15-minute chair massage decreased hospital workers' cortisol levels by 24 percent. In addition to reporting less job stress, anxiety, and depression after their rubdowns, the workers solved math problems faster and more accurately. Hit the spa at lunch after a crazy morning, and you'll be not only more relaxed but also more productive. Can't break away? Keep a handheld gadget, like the HoMedics Quad Extreme rechargeable handheld massager, plugged in at your desk and knead as needed.

Move It's not just yoga--at least 30 minutes a day of any kind of physical activity can help you conquer the negative effects of cortisol. "Being active is a great way to reduce cortisol levels," Talbott says. "In our studies, we see cortisol falling by 15 to 20 percent from the start to the end of a six- to 12-week diet, exercise, and stress-reduction program. He also suggests changing your approach to working out: Instead of "steady state" cardio (a consistent pace that elevates your heart rate to the 60-to-75 percent of maximum range but doesn't overly challenge), try interval training, which pushes you to your max in several short bursts. "Interval training can change hormone balances for the better faster than steady-state exercise," Talbott says. That includes boosting your testosterone, which helps build muscle and restore metabolism. Try it for your next cardio session: Warm up for five minutes, then work your way up by doing a one-minute sprint followed by one minute at an easy pace, then two and two, three and three, and so on. 

Want to Lose Fat? Chill out (2)

Feeling stressed can trigger more than migraine headaches or a meltdown. You could become obese! Learn how to chill out and keep your body fat in check
Why Self-Deprivation Is Dumb

The Penn mouse study also suggests that women may be more sensitive to this particular effect of stress; there may be a biological reason your guy would choose to zone out on the couch rather than raid the cupboards after a rough day. Researchers found that when a single high-fat food pellet was buried in the creatures' bedding, the stressed-out Minnies were much more motivated than the Mickeys to dig up the yummy nugget--uncovering it in an average of 60 seconds, while males took more than twice as long. (In the interest of safety, please do not attempt to recreate this test at home.) 

Researchers at Montclair State University found that men's and women's snacking habits also differ. A group of subjects were given puzzles, some of which were impossible to solve, then they were invited to snack on bowls of peanuts, grapes, potato chips, and M&M's. The women tended to eat more of a healthy snack when they were able to solve the puzzles but dipped into the chocolate more often when they couldn't. Men showed the opposite response, eating significantly more unhealthy snacks when they mastered the puzzles. Lead study author Debra A. Zellner, Ph.D., attributes the difference to men's and women's attitudes about "taboo" foods. Men tend to eat junk food as a reward--in this case, for having solved the puzzles. On the other hand, when female subjects (many of whom were on diets) got frustrated, they reached for taboo snacks to make themselves feel better. 

That's a bad idea in more ways than one. "The more you try to restrict yourcalories, the more likely you are to gain weight," says neuroscientist Cliff Roberts, Ph.D., a senior lecturer with London Southbank University who studied 71 healthy female students who were enrolled in a nurse practitioner program. In the 12 weeks from the beginning of the term to finals, 40 of the women gained an average of five and a half pounds. All were habitual dieters who had exhibited the highest dietary restraint at the onset of the term, and all had significantly high cortisol levels. Roberts believes that the added stress of trying to maintain their weight while keeping up with their schoolwork created a vicious cycle: Stress drove them to eat; then eating (and the weight gain that followed) stressed them out even more and they resorted to filling themselves up with comfort food. 

Chronically elevated cortisol levels from any kind of prolonged stress can affect weight even more over the long haul. For one thing, cortisol encourages the body to store fat--specifically, in the abdominal region--rather than burn it. It's nature's way of ensuring that resources are readily available for fuel when the body needs to perform life-preserving exertion or, for that matter, withstand famine. This all makes even more sense when you consider that abdominal fat has both a greater blood supply (so cortisol travels there quickly) and more receptors for cortisol. The hormone also slows the production of testosterone, which is essential for muscle building. Chronically low testosterone promotes loss of muscle mass, which ultimately can slow your metabolism.
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