Celebrate Your Life – Experience the World
By J. “Kat” Loren ::
When I was a child, people said I would lose my “baby fat” one day. I never really lost it all. But I kept it in check as a youth walking everywhere, biking, and daily workouts on swim teams from the age of 10 through 17. My father also kept us active with of skiing and hiking. So, while we ate mostly carbs and plenty of desserts, everyone in my family was pretty lean.
Eventually, my activities slowed down but my eating habits remained the same. More calories in and less calories burned slowly added the pounds beginning in college.
Then people started making little comments about not eating carbs. Or mentioned outright that I’m a bit overweight. No one called me “obese” to my face but the hints were pretty overt through the years. I kept active through adulthood and excused my weight by believing that I was at least “Fit”.
“Yes, I’m heavy but at least I’m fit,” is the excuse I carried in my back pocket to justify what I ate and drank.
“Well, I travel for work and so I can’t maintain a decent diet,” was the other excuse I trotted out when I started feeling bad about my weight.
“You know, at mid-life, we women can’t help but gain weight no matter what we do,” is yet another excuse I bought into.
Breaking the power of those excuses took time. No one wants to become an obese old man or woman, suffering the diseases of obesity or having so much weight on their bones injuries occur and take longer to mend. If you are wallowing under a load of excuses its time to break through the denial of obesity. It is time to move into a healthier way of life and allow others to come along side of you and cheer you along the way.
But first, lets break into a bit of reality.
Obesity V. Overweight
The most commonly used measure of weight status today is the body mass index, or BMI. What’s considered a healthy BMI? For adult men and women, a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy. Overweight is defined as a BMI between 25.0 and 29.9; and a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
As in adults, obesity is also a growing problem in children and adolescents. Because children grow at different rates, depending on their age and gender, the definitions of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents differ from those in adults. It is based on standard growth charts and other factors.
As a child, I was neither overweight nor obese. As an adult, I sat right on the border with a BMI of about 30%. And where I carried that fat was right around the middle. I suppose that is why we are called “Middle Aged” – it has to do with fat deposit, not chronology.
Waist Size Matters
One important category of obesity not captured by BMI is so-called “abdominal obesity”—the extra fat found around the middle that is an important factor in health, even independent of BMI.
The simplest and most often used measure of abdominal obesity is waist size. Guidelines generally define abdominal obesity in women as a waist size 35 inches or higher, and in men as a waist size of 40 inches or higher.
Globally, 1.5 billion adults are either overweight or obese, a number expected to increase to 3 billion by 2030. The AMA recently declared obesity as a medical issue. Indeed, it is the root of many evils.
Obesity causes or is closely linked with a large number of health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol, asthma, sleep apnea, gallstones, kidney stones, infertility, and as many as 11 types of cancers, including leukemia, breast, and colon cancer. No less real are the social and emotional effects of obesity, including discrimination, lower wages, lower quality of life and a likely susceptibility to depression.
How Did You Get This Way?
The causes of obesity are as varied as the people it affects.
Many factors influence body weight—genes, though the effect is small, and heredity is not destiny; prenatal and early life influences; poor diets; too much television watching; too little physical activity and sleep; and our food and physical activity environment.
Basically, obesity results when you take in more calories than needed. The body stores these excess calories as body fat, and over time the extra pounds add up. Eat fewer calories than the body burns, weight goes down. This equation can be deceptively simple, though, because it doesn’t account for the multitude of factors that affect what we eat, how much we exercise, and how our bodies process all this energy. A complex web surrounds a basic problem.
For women, hormones play a factor. So do food allergies. And medications for various illnesses can inhibit fat burning. Steroids may help a man build muscle and burn fat but they may have the opposite effect on women prescribed a round of steroids to combat inflammation or a chronic disease. Medications may help with symptoms but they cannot restore you to health. Only you can do that. Your body has an amazing ability to heal itself – with proper nutritional support, rest, and appropriate exercise.
How Do You Start a Fitness and Weight Loss Plan?
The journey towards gaining fitness and losing weight begins with breaking through the excuses that keep you bound to your current weight. Once that breakthrough occurs, it is time to create a plan of action. Here are a few steps to point you in the right direction:
Step 1: Break through the denial. Are you overweight or obese? How much do you need to lose?
Step 2: Create a realistic plan of action according to your budget. Can you afford a weight loss spa like Canyon Ranch or Pritikin? Perhaps Weight Watchers ongoing support would be best for you. No matter what you choose, find a program that offers ongoing support. Figure out how much you can invest in the new you, what you like to eat and what is good for your body and create a plan of action.
Step 3: Solicit ongoing support – and turn off the judgment of others.
Weight Loss Coaching
Regular contact with a weight loss and fitness coach can help you create a plan of action and hold you accountable to reach your goals. Breaking through past excuses and shifting the cobwebs of failed attempts to lose weight calls for an extra measure of support. Most people benefit from a coach who co-creates the game plan, helps you dig deep into yourself to find the motivation to succeed, and cheers you on towards the finish line. A great weight loss coach will also help you identify areas in your thoughts and behaviors that sabotage your goals, while non-judgmentally nudging you towards a healthier way of living.
J “Kat” Loren is a Pacific NW-based journalist and author of more than a dozen books. She currently focuses on writing health, fitness, and travel articles. Her blog “Crazi Culture” is a popular read among those who like eclectic topics and travelogues about odd places and adventures. http://www.craziculture.com
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