What can be said about weight loss that hasn’t already been said or written? It’s hard to count the number of books that have been published on the subject but I bet you can list the top five as quickly as recalling your kids’ names. How many television specials and infomercials have you seen on the subject? If every one of us can list off the foods to avoid, how to cook the foods we should eat, and the amount of weekly exercise we should get, why is there an obesity epidemic on this continent? And why are new fads emerging and endless diet books being published every year? Are we under-educated? Have we lost our motivation? Maybe it’s not “us” as a whole. Maybe we should look closer to home. Are we getting in our own way?
So many factors come into play when you decide to lose weight. Weight loss and/or nutritional reconstruction (healthy eating) is a 24/7 undertaking. It involves mental exercise as well as physical exercise. You have to think about it every minute of every day until it becomes second nature. Your motivation has to be unshakable to keep up that kind of commitment. And you have to build in the pitfalls so you don’t beat yourself up and quit altogether if you fall off the wagon. Who has that kind of time or energy?
Are you at the helm? How much weight should you lose and who decides what is enough? Seriously, think about this. Is it your spouse, the TV, magazine ads, your daughter, or you who decides? Are you doing it for yourself because, if you’re not, your motivation could suffer serious setbacks. Who supports you when you lose two pounds? Who supports you when you lose twenty?! Who supports you regardless? Let’s have a look at these, and more, questions about weight loss.
FIT vs FAT – Or Fit AND Fat
Over the years, some experts have touted fitness over fatness as a measure of health. But does that mean it’s OK to be overweight if you hit the gym on a regular basis?
It’s been a common line of thinking that the high blood pressure and cholesterol levels that are often seen in overweight individuals are to blame for the increased disease risk, rather than the fat itself. And because regular exercise can help to keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check, it was believed that overweight individuals might not face an increased risk so long as they got enough exercise.
While being overweight and fit is better for your health than being an overweight couch potato, research shows the excess weight itself is still a major risk factor for developing heart disease and diabetes.
But if you are of normal weight or even on the thin side, that doesn’t mean you are off the hook either.
Where you carry your weight plays an important role in how healthy you are. Carrying excess fat around your middle – even if your weight isn’t otherwise a problem – increases your risk of developing health problems more than weight carried anywhere else on the body.
But here’s where working out comes into play: Research has shown exercise works better than diet alone when it comes to targeting deep belly fat. 1
The typical response to gaining pounds is to try to lose them, usually by dieting. But what if we were to accept some tubbiness as a consequence of our cushy 21st-century lifestyles and instead figure out ways to offset its bad effects? Several studies have suggested that exercise might be just the thing.
Physical activity “cools off” inflammatory processes and helps our bodies keep insulin and blood sugar at healthy levels. Extra weight, especially when it’s concentrated in a pot belly, stirs up inflammatory processes and disrupts blood sugar regulation. So it makes sense that exercise might significantly blunt obesity’s ill effects even if it doesn’t cause weight loss.
Moreover, research shows that it’s possible to be heavy and fit, cardiovascularly speaking. In various studies, a sizable percentage of people who are overweight — particularly in the moderate range (a BMI between 25 and 30) — do well on treadmill tests and are fairly physically active, judging by their answers to questionnaires.
The first major fatness versus fitness study was conducted by researchers at the Cooper Institute, a nonprofit organization in Dallas that promotes fitness. In a study of 22,000 men, ages 30–83, the researchers measured subjects’ body composition (the proportion of fat to muscle) and put them through treadmill tests. During eight years of follow-up, 428 of the men died. Men who were overweight but fit (as measured by a treadmill test) were two times less likely to have died than men who were lean but not fit. Moreover, the all-cause mortality rate of fit, overweight men wasn’t significantly different from that of the fit, lean men. Their heretical conclusion: If you’re fit, being overweight doesn’t increase mortality risk.2
Buying Into The Advertising About Being Slim
Being slim does not automatically mean you’re a healthy individual.
Genetics plays a larger role than weight in things like cholesterol levels and arthritis however being overweight can add to the problem of arthritic knees. Age, inherited traits, presence of other conditions, high blood lipids (fats) and high blood glucose levels also influence the development of diseases associated with weight. Making sure your daily intake of food is nutritionally sound and balanced is more important than a few extra pounds. Human beings’ bodies were designed to be different. And each body will look different at different stages of life. We’re not all supposed to look the same. Can you imagine?! The actual problems start when you’re looking at more than just a few pounds.
Though we all use the terms “fat” and “obese” casually in conversation, there is a medical definition of the condition—and yes, obesity is considered a health “condition.” According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a person is considered “obese” when he or she weighs 20 percent or more than his or her ideal body weight. At that point, the person’s weight poses a real health risk. Obesity becomes “morbid” when it significantly increases the risk of one or more obesity-related health conditions or serious diseases (also known as co-morbidities). Morbid obesity—sometimes called “clinically severe obesity”—is defined as being 100 lbs. or more over ideal body weight or having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher. 3
Damage To Our Self-Confidence When We Don’t “Measure Up”
There’s another risk to our health if we buy into what advertisers are trying to sell us regarding weight; our self-esteem falls through the floor and depression can set in. We start to consider ourselves as inferior and a failure. When you feel badly about yourself you tend to avoid social situations that can include exercise classes, outings with your workmates, shopping and lunch with friends.
So, are we getting in our own way? Probably. It’s so important not to let yourself fall into this trap. You are who you are, inside and out. We should be celebrating our differences, not trying to glaze over them. Do you have the time and energy to devote to a full diet and exercise plan? If you do, make sure you’re doing it for yourself and not someone else’s idea of what you should look like. And if not, just try and make sure the foods you eat are quality, not quantity. Having a good and faithful support system in place is important but don’t forget, you can be your own best support system just by looking in the mirror.
WHAT IS THE BMI AND IS IT STILL VALID?
The Body Mass Index (BMI) was originally created in the mid-1800s by a Belgian sociologist named Adolphe Quetelet. It was originally created as a population measure, and was not originally intended for purposes of health care. In the 1980s, the World Health Organization (WHO) began using the BMI as a standard for determining and recording obesity statistics.
How were the BMI numbers arrived at? Technically speaking, the formula for determining BMI is kg/m2 (weight, in kilograms, divided by the square of height).
The BMI or Body Mass Index is a ratio of weight-to-height. Research studies in large groups of people have shown that the BMI can be classified into ranges associated with health risk. There are four categories of BMI ranges in the Canadian weight classification system. There are:
- Underweight (BMI less than 18.5)
- Normal weight (BMIs 18.5 to 24.9)
- Overweight (BMIs 25 to 29.9), and
- Obese (BMI 30 and over)
Most adults with a high BMI (overweight or obese) have a high percentage of body fat. Extra body fat is associated with increased risk of health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease and some forms of cancer. A low BMI (underweight) is associated with health problems such as osteoporosis, malnutrition and eating disorders.4
While the validity of the BMI has come under some scrutiny of late, it is still a valid diagnostic tool and indicator. You just have to remember that the BMI of a 250-pound athlete will be the same as a 250-pound couch potato. A individual may only weigh 125 pounds and still be very healthy, so long as all other tests indicate the absence of disease. At the extreme end of the scale, Australian aboriginies have been found with BMIs as low as 13 and are still very active and healthy. Using the BMI alone, actors like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are both considered obese.
The BMI only takes height and weight into account, meaning that things like muscle mass, bone density, age, gender, and ancestry/nationality are irrelevant.
Let’s look at another example of how the BMI would be applied…
The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 140 pounds.
- This means that she has a BMI of 24.0 (“normal”).
- If she were to gain 6 pounds, she would be “overweight” (with a BMI of 25.1).
- If she wanted to have the same BMI as the average American model (16.3) she would have to lose 45 pounds to drop to a weight of 95 pounds.
The average American model is 5’11” tall and weights 117 pounds.
- This means that she has a BMI of 16.3 (“underweight”).
- In order for her to be considered “normal” weight with a BMI of 18.5, she would have to weigh 133 pounds (a gain of 16 pounds).
- In order for her to be at the same BMI of the average American woman (24.0 – still “normal”), she would have to weight 173 pounds – a weight gain of 56 pounds.
- In order for her to be classified as “starving” (with a BMI of 15.0), she would weigh 108 pounds – only a loss of 9 pounds.
INDICATORS OF GOOD HEALTH
Blood pressure – A “normal” blood pressure has long been held to be anything below 140/90. 6
Cholesterol – For total cholesterol, less than 200 mg/dl is optimal, and the total level should be kept below 240 mg/dl to avoid the risk of heart disease. For LDL, less than 100 mg/dl is optimal, and the total level should be kept below 160 mg/dl.
Finally, a healthy HDL cholesterol level is set above 60 mg/dl, and should be kept above 40 mg/dl for men and above 50 mg/dl for women to prevent excessive accumulation in the blood and along the artery walls.7
Placement of Body Fat – Gaining fat in your abdomen is particularly unhealthy when compared to other locations in your body. Excess belly fat increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers.
Clear Skin – Acne and other skin conditions can be indicators of a toxic internal environment. Clear skin indicates that your liver and other toxin-eliminating organs are working at peak efficiency.
Stress – “Stress induced illness” is not just a misnomer. Many studies demonstrate that stress, personality, attitude and emotion are causative factors in many diseases. Try to live as stress-free as possible. Take time for yourself, delegate tasks, learn to meditate, get enough sleep, exercise, and don’t meet trouble half way!
STRESS AND WEIGHT
Why do we reach for food when we’re stressed? Most foods can actually alter your mood. They set off chemical and emotional reactions in your body that can temporarily make you feel calm or powerful. When your stress meter goes up, food can have a calming affect but only for a short time and then the problems start. Sugar crashes, headaches, weight gain, and painful self-judgment that can actually drive you to reach for more food. Here’s the vicious circle: while a little chocolate may help fight stress by releasing endorphins (neurotransmitters that promote a sense of wellbeing and euphoria – “nature’s morphine”), excessive stress depletes neurotransmitters like endorphins that help regulate emotions. The answer isn’t to constantly consume chocolate. You need to challenge old beliefs that willpower alone can stop you from eating when you’re stressed. Try a walk around the block in the fresh air. It gets you away from the food and will release just as many endorphins without adding any calories or doing any harm to your body.
Do a stress inventory when you find yourself eating more, or not eating at all. Symptoms of excessive stress include aching back or shoulders, procrastination, clenched hands, impatience, rapid heart beat, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, depression and anxiety. By tuning in to your physical and behavioral reactions, it’s easier to face stress-causing problems head-on.
If you do much stress eating, ask your health care professional about stress reactive hypoglycemia. This condition can set off physical and emotional reactions, including tiredness, anxiousness and extreme hunger.
Learn what purpose food is serving. Stress eating is usually a response to emotional hunger. Keep a chart for two weeks to monitor your food and feelings connection. Divide it into columns noting when, where and what you eat; what precipitates eating; and your feelings during and after eating.
Although approaches and philosophies may appear to be dramatically different, all diet programs foster the same objectives: prevent the storage of additional fat and burn off the layer of fat that has already accumulated. Some diets achieve this goal by limiting the intake of calories. Others attempt to eliminate certain kinds of food, such as carbohydrates. Regardless of the approach, one thing is certain. All have an unacceptably high failure rate, for the most part because old habits die hard or because the temptation of forbidden foods (many accurately described as junk food and most prepared and packaged with an almost frightening degree of sophistication) overwhelms even the best of intentions. HoodiaTrim has been formulated to help those committed to weight loss, whether or not they are following a formal dietary regime, to:
- reduce the intake of fattening foods
- increase the metabolic rate in order to help burn stored fat
- suppress the urge to eat due to stress
- fortify resolve and willpower
- resist the negative, psychological impact of deprivation
INSOMNIA AND WEIGHT –Your Late-Night Fridge Raids Will Start To Add Up
Lack of sleep could make you fat. In an editorial published in the January 10, 2005 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, two Northwestern University researchers stress the need to better understand the growing epidemic of obesity in the United States by studying how loss of sleep alters the complex metabolic pathways that control appetite, food intake and energy expenditure.
Commenting on two obesity studies also published this week in the journal, Joseph Bass, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, and Fred W. Turek, Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Biology and director of Northwestern’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology, write: “In recent years, a new and unexpected ‘obesity villain’ has emerged, first from laboratory studies and now, as reported by Vorona et al in this issue of the Archives, in population-based studies: insufficient sleep.
As younger and older Americans alike struggle with an inability to get enough sleep and to control weight, the authors stress the need to investigate whether intervention in sleep disorders could help reduce obesity’s negative effects on metabolism and health.5
If you find yourself tossing and turning, waiting to fall asleep – don’t. Get up out of bed. Find a relaxing activity, like reading, that keeps your mind off the problems of the day. Keep the lights low and play some soft, slow-paced music.If you do get the munchies, have a hot cup of milk or a piece of cheese. There’s more to that old wives tale about hot milk; dairy products contain calcium – a natural muscle relaxant. Sometimes taking deep breaths by an open window helps. If the weather is nice, step outside your back door and listen to the night music while doing some deep breathing. When you feel relaxed and sleepy, that’s the time to return to bed. Good night!
Carol Roy is a Natural Health Practitioner, registered with Natural Health Practitioners Canada, who received her diploma from the Alternative Medicine College of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. With 9 years experience in her area of expertise, naturopathic medicine, Carol has also trained to become a fully qualified Reiki Master, Quantum Touch ® Practitioner and Reflexologist.
The suggestions by Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods and the contents of this article
are recommendations only and not a substitute for any medical advice or a
replacement for any prescriptions. Seek medical advice for any health concerns.
Consult your health care provider before using any recommendations herein.
2. The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
3. University of Rochester Medical Center
4. Health Canada, Food and Nutrition
5. Science Daily, Article – “Sleeping Less May Be Related To Weight Gain”, Science Daily, January 11, 2005
7. Healthy Heart Guide