Weight loss is a big issue in today’s world. American Heart Association estimated in 2013 that “Among Americans age 20 and older, 154.7 million are overweight or obese”. The scary part about that statistic is that it is only an estimation of people that were documented. Can you imagine what the actual number would be if we were able to count everyone?
23.9 million children were reported to be obese in that same year, costing the system roughly $245 billion in excess costs. The next quote really hurts my heart. It goes on to say in parenthesizes “$208 billion in lost productivity secondary to premature morbidity and mortality and $46 billion in direct medical costs.”
We as a country spent $208 billion last year in lost productivity secondary to kids literally dying from being overweight. Our fast food, convenience food, malnourished and sedentary lifestyles are literally killing our kids folks! I am sure that someone somewhere will bring up the illnesses that cause adolescent weight gain and complications, but that is not what we are talking about here. The majorities are cases of reversible, preventable, self-inflicted weight gain leading to morbidity. Take a moment to process that, then go to American Heart Association to see the full article HERE
Obesity has been linked as a high correlating risk factor to lots of illnesses including cancer, heart disease, respiratory issues and depression. This whole topic is depressing and completely within our control to change. If you don’t get anything else out of this, just know that your health is your choice. You might be facing some awful medical conditions now and if you are, I am truly sympathetic and I want to help you take a hold of your situation (secondary to the guidance of your doctor of course). The first step in anything is education. Surround yourself with education that moves you to act. Watch a documentary, read a study, find a quote that stirs things inside of you and makes forward progress feel irresistible. You have to want it, but trust me, health is there for you when you want to start working toward it.
Eating for Weight Loss
Weight loss is 80% what you eat and 20% how physically activity you are. This is not new, we just covered this concept in a recent blog titled “Stop Starting Over”. Speaking of diet, there are some generally accepted foods that have been know to contribute to weight gain. Foods like processed sugars, processed packaged items, artificial sweeteners and high fat foods (fast foods, animal products, fried food) have all been correlated to weight issues in addition to poor sleep and high stress. While that is very true, the facts can be broken down into even simpler terms. Balance calories in with calories out. We are talking about portion sizes here! I never count calories, but I do eat before I get too hungry and stop eating when I start to feel to full. Many people have eaten so far over their fill line for so long that they are not able to recognize when the body has had enough. This where portion control comes in. Find out about portion sizes on choosemyplate.gov HERE
Exercising for Weight Loss
A well rounded exercise program should have three components; Cardiovascular Exercise (CV), Resistance Exercise or Resistance Training (RT) and Flexibility Exercise (or stretching). Each type of exercise has specific benefits and should be incorporated for maximum results. Your exercise program should be heavy on the CV types of exercise because it helps you to lose weight most efficiently. What you need to know about RT is that it does help you keep the weight off in the long run by improving your body composition (decreasing fat while increasing muscle) and should be included into your program once CV exercise is established.
Weight loss is an all or nothing kind of issue. You are not able to lose weight in target areas because the body loses weight collectively in all areas at the same time during periods of total body energy expenditure. The speed and areas in which you will lose weight are relatively random and beholden to genetics. That means that no amount of sit-ups or other various core exercises will make you lose weight in your midsection. You have to do total body CV exercise to lose weight. This includes walking, jogging, biking, elliptical, swimming, cycling or stationary bike; anything where you move your whole body continuously to increase your metabolic energy expenditures.
It is recommended that you do this for at least 10 consecutive minutes at a time to increase your metabolic rate (including heart rate, ventilation rate, muscle energy consumption and body temperature). RT at low weights and high amounts of repetitions can also provide you with CV types of gains, but you will have to stay tuned into the blog for more info on how and why to RT.
How Much Exercise Should I Do?
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has researched the physiological adaptations that take place during exercise. They researched how much and what types of exercise it takes to reverse heart diseases, to lower cholesterol, to decrease weight and to improve performance. They recommend that you have a minimum of 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each week to keep healthy and to maintain your current weight, or 300 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a week to lose weight. That is 30-60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 x a week or 20-60 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise three days a week.
ACSM has also recommended that 1-2 pounds a week of weight loss is healthy and sustainable. Be patient with yourself, try to see the bigger picture of what you are accomplishing with your health and be realistic about the time it will take. It will take you 3 months to lose 24 pounds if you are consistent and that is the best case scenario. Some people may have much larger reductions in weight if their starting weight is high, but consult with your doctor if you have any concerns.