75% of American men and 60% of American women are either overweight or obese.
That’s a staggering statistic. Excess weight is a factor in a number of critical health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes – four of the top 10 causes of death in the United States. Managing your weight is essential to leading a long, healthy and active life. It’s also the key to avoiding conditions that rob you of your natural vitality.
The long-term effects of obesity
It’s impossible to overstate the seriousness of carrying around chronic excess weight. Obesity is a major contributing factor in heart disease, stroke, Type-2 diabetes and some cancers. Because body weight is generally controllable, this means that obesity-related deaths are largely both premature and preventable.
Obesity is also implicated in a number of other conditions, including arthritis, sleep apnea, osteoporosis, blood clots and hypertension. Some studies have even linked obesity to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.
For many people, the decline into obesity is a self-perpetuating cycle. Weight gain makes it harder to move, which slows metabolism and encourages weight gain. Excessive weight encourages conditions like insulin resistance, which make it difficult for your body to produce enough insulin to break down and eliminate sugars. This can lead to Type-2 diabetes, which can damage all of your major organs and significantly degrade your quality of life.
It’s important to note that there is a difference between being overweight and obese. The Body Mass Index (BMI) provides a quick comparison of a person’s weight to height. Taller people can safely carry more weight than shorter people. A person with a BMI that is:
- above 40 = extremely obese
- between 30 and 29.9= obese
- between 25 and 29.9 = overweight
- between 18.5 and 24.9 = healthy weight
- less than 18.5 = underweight
Scientists who have tracked the so-called “obesity epidemic” have noted that the percentage of US adults who are overweight has stayed relatively constant for nearly 60 years. Beginning in the mid-1970’s, however, the percentage of obese adults began to rise sharply. Prior to 1975, the percentage of obese adults hovered stably around 15%. Between 1975 and 2005, the percentage of obese adults shot up to 35%. Additionally, the percentage of adults who were “extremely obese” rose from about 1% in 1975 to nearly 7% in 2010.
Losing weight can seem to be a herculean task, especially once you’ve reached “middle age.” Many people swear that they diet and exercise to no avail. They may say, “It’s impossible!” The truth is that it’s very possible to lose weight, no matter your age. As you age, you need to employ different strategies for managing your weight. The right strategy at the right time can do wonders to help you shed pounds and keep them off.
Successful weight management involves a conscientious effort to change not only your movement habits, but also your eating habits. By taking a holistic approach to your health, you can reduce your weight successfully and limit your risk of premature illness and death. Fad diets rarely produce successful, long-term results. This is because they’re not balanced, and they don’t help your body consistently meet its nutritional needs over time.
Here are a few ways you can take charge of your health by managing your weight.
Believe it or not, starving yourself isn’t a good way to lose weight. Skipping meals and holding out during the course of the day can leave you cranky, distracted and just plain hungry. This actually encourages you to eat later in the day, which is bad. Eating three or more well-balanced, well-timed meals each day can help you lose weight over time. Eating a bigger breakfast and reducing the size of your remaining meals over the day can actually support your metabolism better than skipping meals can. Losing weight isn’t just about eliminating calories. It’s about making sure the calories you do take in will help your metabolism support your health goals.
Drink more water
Many people don’t drink enough water, although there’s no consensus on how much water humans should drink each day. Sometimes, people misinterpret thirst as hunger. As a result, they eat more than they need to. Their bodies may get water from the food they eat, but that comes at a big cost. Make a point of drinking water throughout the day. Not only will that turn off the thirst signals from your brain, it will also reduce your calorie intake.
Eat like you have diabetes
People with diabetes don’t produce enough insulin. Insulin helps your body break down some sugars. Your pancreas makes insulin, and a rise in your blood-sugar level tells your pancreas to get to work. People with diabetes actively control their blood-sugar level throughout the day. By injecting synthetic insulin, or sometimes just by avoiding foods that raise their blood-sugar level quickly, they manage their condition. Untreated, diabetes can damage all the body’s major organs. It can lead to heart disease, stroke, peripheral nerve damage, damage to the digestive system and even death.
The body doesn’t react the same way to all sugars. Some sugars – like the kind found in fruits and milk – don’t impact the body’s blood-sugar level the way processed or refined sugar does. By learning which foods raise your blood-sugar level rapidly, you can make consistently healthier choices when you eat. Researchers have measured the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) of many (if not most) foods. By knowing how a food is going to affect your blood-sugar level, you can eliminate those foods that will spike your blood-sugar level. This approach to food selection may offer a healthier alternative to your current diet. It can also help you make healthier long-term changes to your eating habits. As a bonus, becoming more “glycemic-aware” can also help you lose weight.
Increasing your metabolic rate – the rate at which your body burns calories – can help you lose weight. Physical exercise is one way to boost your metabolism. Contrary to what many people believe, “exercise” doesn’t have to mean spending hours each day at the gym. Simple movements like walking, yoga, stretching, aerobics and light weightlifting can all move your metabolism in the right direction.
Additionally, regular movement can help stabilize your blood pressure and heart rate and encourage your body to burn stored fat. Reducing your weight gradually can also make moving easier and relieve conditions like arthritis. New research also shows that people who exercise more naturally move toward healthier diets.
Our life coaches can design an individualized weight management plan just for you and start you on the path to a healthier, longer life. To set up an initial consultation, please give us a call at (509) 737-9355 today.