Friday, November 16, 2007

A Beginners Strategy for Losing Weight - Part 2

In "A Beginners Strategy for Losing Weight - Part 1" I referenced previous blog posts that focused around "the doing" and how uncomplicated it was to find time to exercise. In this segment, I will touch briefly on the concept of the "D" word - Dieting.

When I work with my clients, I feel that educating them on all aspects of health is vital to their success. Resistance training, cardiovascular conditioning and flexibility training are among the different aspects that I consult them on as we work together, but the one facet of the whole health equation that is usually the most difficult is the nutritional piece. I find it challenging at times to convey what I consider to be a healthy approach to nutrition because of all the “special diets” that are circulating among the American population. It seems that almost every diet propagated amongst friends, co-workers, the media, etc. all seems to work…..for a while anyway. More diet gurus have come and gone and have come back again to suggest that you “Stop the Insanity” and “Deal a Meal” yourself to a better body. Personally, I can’t imagine buying prepackaged food and being told what to eat or running out of “points” and not being allowed to eat or better yet, having extra points left over and being told its OK to eat that big piece of chocolate cake (even though you want to)and not to worry. It’s my contention that the immediate focus should be on our health, not a tight pair of buns and a chiseled chest (although they too can be obtained through hard work). The aesthetic improvements that everyone hopes for is usually the last to happen once they realize that efforts aren’t just at the dinner table and that resistance and cardiovascular training are part and parcel to achieving the health and body you dream of having (but that’s for another article).

A major health concern that we should be addressing is obesity in America. An estimated 97 million adults in the United States, 55% of the population, are overweight or obese. The American Public Health Association (APHA) has supplied statistics stating that nine million children between the ages of 6 and 19 are overweight. The proportion of children who are overweight has tripled since 1980 according to this study. Now, keep in mind that these studies are based on BMI (body mass index) which is calculated based on your gender, height and body weight only, with absolutely no regard for your actual LBM (lean body mass). To be honest, it is a feeble attempt at predicting what your LBM is. Basing it solely on the parameters listed above is ridiculous. For the heck of it, I used a “health” calculator
to determine my BMI based using my current statistics. I am 5’7”, male and weigh 175 pounds. The “ideal body weight calculator”, (the governments misleading term, not mine) tells me I should be 148 pounds at my height for my gender. According to their health calculator I am 22 pounds over weight - which is absurd. This figure puts me in the “over weight” category – which isn’t the case. This means of determining body fat levels skews the obesity number in my opinion, however, there is still a large (no pun intended) amount of Americans that should certainly address their body fat levels and overall health and well-being.

So, with all the diets out their and the amount of people who participate in these programs, why are we as a nation still seeing a majority of people still carrying excess body fat and suffering from stressed immune systems, heart disease (the number 1 killer in America), stroke (#3 killer), elevated cholesterol levels, hypertension, etc.? Why are there still unsuccessful attempts at losing this unwanted body weight and fat? Why are we still so unhealthy? As far as I’m concerned, most diet plans are short term in nature, whereby the individual sees some weight loss in the beginning and once they go back to what’s deemed as “normal eating” they then tend to “yo-yo” or “rebound”, which means they gain the weight back and on most occasions, go above the weight they started at.

The way to lose weight is a basic concept, take in fewer calories than you expend and you will lose weight. That is why most people lose weight immediately because they may cut out the junk food or all the breads and pasta they eat, blaming carbohydrates for their excess weight, not the amount of calories. Adding in some type of resistance and cardiovascular exercise also helps in burning calories and so does portion control to an extent, but evaluate what is being focused on by some of these diet plans. Looking good is the prime concern when a diet is proposed. Vanity is what is played on, with little regard for health. The idea that “thin is in” does not, I reiterate, does not ensure that you are healthy. Keep in mind that losing weight isn’t the primary goal; losing body fat is what you are ultimately trying to accomplish along with enriching your body with nutrients to make you healthier. Can you see a theme here with the amount of times I’ve referenced the term HEALTH?

It comes down to some fundamental principles and implementation. I am not trying to imply that losing body fat is easy, it certainly isn’t (I know, I’ve done it), but it isn’t as difficult and mundane as some propose. The beauty of eating good, wholesome foods and structuring a sound eating plan doesn’t revolve around meetings or the need to be afraid of fats, nor do you need to join the “anti-carb” committee to achieve positive results.

You need guidance, time, patience and dedication to make it happen. You have the ability to make a permanent change that will benefit you for life.

If anyone is interested in more information on how to lose body fat and improving their health, feel free to contact me by email or call 908.433.4542 and I will send you a Healthy Living Questionnaire to get you started. - Fred Fornicola