Sunday, April 6, 2014

Obesity and weight loss

It's that time of the year again. You know what time of the year I'm talking about. The weather is getting warmer, flowers are blooming and your friends and family start flocking to the water for some fun in the sun. Your children and friends beg you to go to the beach but you are hesitant. You start trying on bathing suits you’ve worn in the past and you wish you could go back to January when you made that resolution to lose a few pounds and actually stick with it. You start to think “what happened to my pre-children body”. Well, you’re not alone as this is the feeling of many adult women across the U.S. The good news is that it’s not too late to change things.

Although this blog is to provide insight into accomplishing your weight loss goals, I would be remiss if I didn’t give some background on the impact of being overweight/obese on both the health of the individual and our community. Obesity is more than just a cosmetic concern. According to the CDC, more than one-third of adults in the U.S. are obese. The estimated cost of obesity in the U.S. in 2008 was $147 billion. Obesity occurs over time when you eat more calories than you use. Factors that may affect your weight include your genetics, over-eating, eating the wrong types of foods and physical inactivity. Being obese increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and some types of cancer. There can also a profound effect on your children as the rate of obesity in children is much higher in families whose parents are obese. Now that everyone is feeling good about themselves, let’s look the two steps needed to not only improve our health but to also look and feel better this summer.

Step one is to develop a proper diet. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen”. While this sounds so simple and difficult at the same time, there is a lot of truth to this statement. You can do hundreds of crunches or a daily ab ripper routine, but unless you are eating healthy no one will ever notice that six pack. There are a thousand and one diets currently available and while they each tout that they’re the most effective, but there are some easier ways to diet that aren’t so restrictive. I like to call this process eating clean. Here are some of the major highlights of the eating plan I recommend to patients:

1.      Buy groceries from the outside aisles of the store. By doing this you will avoid the majority of processed foods and eat more fresh fruits and veggies

2.      Eat lean meats such as chicken or turkey breast, lean beef or steak, fish and lean pork

3.      Do not skip meals (especially breakfast)

4.      Try eating 5-6 small meals a day at a frequency of every 2.5 to 3 hours

5.      Limit simple carbs and salt intake

6.      Track the amount of calories you eat (there are many phone apps for this) and depending on what your goals and activity level are, limit your intake between 1,500 to 1,800 calories a day

Step two is to begin an exercise program. I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t have time for exercise. I have children in all sorts of activities. My job is too demanding. It’s too hot or too cold. I didn’t sleep well last night.” I could keep going but you get the point. You HAVE to make time for exercise. A regular exercise program will increase your energy and actually make you more productive at the excuses listed above. Once again, there are no right or wrong choices when deciding on a program as long as doing nothing isn’t one of your programs to choose from. Here are some highpoints on exercise I recommend to patients:

1.      Exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week ( a minimum of 5 days)

2.      Try to incorporate both weight bearing exercise and cardio into your program

3.      If you are just starting to exercise start by walking for 30 minutes at a stroll. Start off at a pace that you are able to carry on a conversation with someone and then increase your intensity over time

4.      Exercise with a friend as this will increase your chances of sticking with a program and make the experience more enjoyable

Although these two steps are recommended for most adults, it is still important to discuss your diet/exercise plans with your physician and allow them to help assist you in your weight loss and physical fitness goals. For severe cases there may be medication therapy that can assist you in achieving your goals. Call your physician today and erase the doubt that weight loss can’t be achieved.