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Waste No Time to Reduce the Waistline!

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February 2009
Waste No Time to Reduce the Waistline!

By Aarti Patel

Take a close look at the people around you the next time you’re at a public place. Are most of them overweight? Do they have large waistlines? Are you one of them? According to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics, more than half of all Americans are either overweight or obese. The percentage of obese Americans has now exceeded that of overweight Americans. 32.7 % of Americans are overweight compared to the 34% that are obese. Just under 6% are classified as ‘extremely’ obese.

Scientists and doctors calculate obesity and overweight using a formula called body mass index (BMI) which is weight/height² (kg/m²). Someone with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is classified as overweight, 30 to 40 counts as obese and people with BMIs of 40 or more are morbidly obese. (To calculate your BMI, go to the site: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/.)

Should you be concerned if you are in the overweight or obese category? Most definitely, yes! Being overweight or obese puts you at high risk for diseases. So, how do you lose the weight and is there a ‘magic pill’? Unfortunately, when it comes to weight loss there is no magic pill! Millions of dollars are spent each year by consumers buying some form or other of a pill or ‘fat dissolve’ treatment that will once and for all get rid of that flab with promises of a leaner, firmer body. However, as good as it may sound, these are not approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and are usually a gimmick. Hundreds of nutritionally inadequate fad diets are out there luring consumers with a quick weight loss fix. The reality is that once weight has been gained, it takes time, patience, commitment; a lot of work-outs, a lot of healthy eating, and above all a lot of sweat to lose it!

Putting on weight is a slow process which doesn’t happen overnight and, therefore, losing weight is likewise a slow process which can take months. When it comes to successful weight loss, there are no quick fixes. The only way to lose it and maintain it is by making some lifestyle changes over a period of time. Good nutrition and lots of exercise are very essential along with being consistent.

In order to lose weight, calories must be burned. There are approximately 3,500 kilocalories (kcal) in one pound of fat. Therefore, in order to lose 1 pound of fat, 3,500 more kilocalories must burned than are consumed. In other words, to lose 1 pound of fat per week there must be a negative balance of 3,500 kilocalories per week. For most people this balance is best accomplished by increasing caloric expenditure and modestly reducing caloric intake.

The maximum effective rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds a week. Advertisements of weight loss products that claim up to a 10 lb weight loss in 1 to 2 weeks are simply not true. In all actuality, what is lost is lean muscle mass (which needs to be retained) and fluid weight which eventually is gained right back.

A structured weight loss program which incorporates strength training, flexibility, cardiovascular exercise and good nutrition is the only effective way to lose weight and keep it off. Concentrating on only one technique is not as effective as focusing on all four. When someone goes on a rigid diet and fails to work out, he/she will eventually get hungry, frustrated and give up when weight loss isn’t achieved. Or, when someone just does cardiovascular exercises and doesn’t incorporate strength training or good nutrition into their lifestyle, results are not achieved and therefore, disappointment and failure set in. In order to succeed, a well-balanced exercise program and good nutrition are a must. You have to make the effort in order to get the results you want. You have to make it a lifestyle!

Last month, we regret to note, there was a copyediting error in the Health Watch column. Here’s the correction: “Seniors should not perform vigorous intensity exercise unless under the supervision of a fitness professional and/or approved by their physician.”


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