Being an outdoorsman with a background in animal behavior, I’m oft asked many scientific questions. One of the ones I hear most frequently from co-workers and park visitors is, “Why can’t I lose weight?”
It is a question that plagues many Americans. Sadly, over 50% of the people of our country are overweight and/or obese. These numbers directly contribute to national debt, as weight problems lead to health problems, which oft time give rise to disability.
Disabled Americans under the age of 65 hinder our economy, as they are unexpected non-workers who become wards of the state in terms of health care and food assistance.
The way to stay healthy is very simple. As prescribed by the AMA and FDA, every American needs to get 30 minutes of exercise. This simple and repeated behavior leads to happiness, as it keeps the heart fit and hinders the formation of excessive adipose.
Still, a closer look at the incidence of overweight/obesity affection the population is worth an in-depth look, as to edify the minds in understanding this important subject.
Figure 1: Is there a way to balance everyday tasks with proper diet and exercise? The answer is yes and you are never to old or “Out of shape” to start. (Photo Courtesy of BBC)
Fun In the Sun-dae
In many nations worldwide, the season of the sun is upon us. For some this season means hitting the beach, exploring nature trails, biking, and flaunting of taut bodies. For others however, it may mean going to work or school, perhaps grabbing a nice sack of burgers, driving in the car for a bit and seeing what twists and turns face our favorite characters on TV.
Today we live in a largely automated society which encourages a sedentary lifestyle and a bevy of commercial retailers are marketing unhealthy food. It should not come as a surprise that the WHO reports that over 1 BILLION people worldwide are overweight while over 300 million are obese. There are over 22 million obese children under the age of five. These figures continue to rise in both developed and developing nations. Many health professionals have classified it as a global epidemic.
So What’s the Big Deal?
Fat is essential to the human body in proper amounts, but sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet and excessive fat can directly lead to various health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, impotence, infertility, heart conditions, cancer, depression and more. The frustrating thing about this growing health crisis is that it is easily remedied, even for those who have the busiest of schedules.
Here are a few questions for reflection:
How much time have you or your children spent engaged in a proper amount of moderate physical activity in the past week?
What do you consider to be a moderate amount of physical activity?
How many times have you decided to eat based on what sounds good or is convenient?
The reality is if you have enough time to turn on your computer, take a stretch and browse a few websites, you likely have the time and capability to plan simple and healthy regimens of exercise and diet for you and your family. With just a few minutes, you can take steps to ensure a better quality for your life.
Where Do I Start?
1. Terminology: Some may not understand the distinction between the two terms overweight or obese. The BMI, or body mass index, is an approximation of what weight class you belong in based upon your height and weight and approximately tells you if you are underweight, average, overweight, or obese.
To calculate your BMI, please visit the United States Center for Disease Controls BMI Calculator.
Please note that this figure is an approximation, does not take into account very lean or extremely muscular bodies, and does not replace a proper analysis by a trained physician or dietician.
|Body Mass Index||Weight Status|
|30 and Above||Obese|
Figure 2: A simplified version of the Body Mass Index Chart. Please use this in conjunction with the provided link (above) to approximate your BMI.
2. Exercise: All it takes to get sufficient exercise, as recommended by the US Surgeon General and the WHO is… ready…30 minutes a day! This is the length of a typical TV sitcom, or the distance to a fast food joint on foot. It takes longer to set-up Jack Bauer for a heroic act on TV series 24 than it can for you to assure a better quality of life for yourself.
Children should get about 60 minutes of moderate exercise a day, so just pull the circuit breaker once a day, to get them away from their Playstation.
3. Diet: Last week, I passed at least 10 fast food restaurants when going to the local supermarket. Even inside the store, there was a fast food chain. Before I reached the carts, I passed the stores display of pastries, cookies and fried chicken. We are practically forced to buy what looks tasty and convenient.
When deciding what to have for dinner or a snack, pick foods high in fiber, green leafy vegetables, low fat dairy products and fruits instead of boxed snacks high in sugar and fat content. Try to buy lean meats and drain the fat when cooking. Leave the sodas out and replace it with water.
4. Consistency: Your quality of life will be positively affected if you increase your energy output in exercise, modify your diet and make sure you are drinking plenty of water. These simple steps, repeated with consistency, will leave you healthy and not a contributing stat to the growing worldwide epidemic.
While obesity is often attributed to lifestyle and diet regimen, genetics also play a role. Some may need special consultation to lose weight or maintain a reasonable BMI. Please consult your physician or a trained dietician to sculpt a consistent program.
Only a few minutes of consultation and preparation can yield a lifetime of good health and happiness for you. If you know your health is not in proper order, or even borderline, please follow the links in the article and try to make a few changes per day to improve your habits. Besides, there’s always TIVO to hold things in place for you while you get business in order.