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Obesity: Curse of the 21st Century

Posted Mar 29th, 2012 by Laurie Marbas
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 35.7% of American adults are obese and in 2008 medical costs associated with obesity were $147 billion.  Obesity increases the risks of type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke.  There are many reasons why we must fight the war against obesity.  Where do you begin when you need to lose weight?

First, speak to your doctor regarding your health status and if you are able to exercise.  Exercise is an essential part of the healthy weight loss formula.  It increases your metabolism, decreases stress, and decreases risks of heart disease, stroke, cancer and    diabetes.  Exercise can be as simple as walking in the beginning and increase the intensity or duration as it becomes easier.  Resistance training is also important to increase the muscle mass which also improves metabolism.  

There are many exercise regimens available and deciding what to do can be overwhelming.  However, it is very important to just get started by putting one foot in front of the other.  One ebook that is informative, accurate and thorough is “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle” by Tom Venuto.  It discusses cardio and resistance training for the beginner.  It can be found here

Second, you have to look at your diet.  Throw out any ideas of following fad diets.  They can be dangerous.  You may lose weight in the beginning but most of these diets encourage severe caloric restrictions which not only cause you to lose fat but muscle also.  No one can keep up these type of diets for the long haul and will eventually go back to their old eating habits.  When this happens you gain all the fat back plus some more and this time you have less muscle.  This is not healthy!  

You have to change how you think about food.  Food is meant to fuel your body like gas is for a car.  You cannot expect your body to function at its best on junk food.  Would you put garbage in you car’s gas tank?  Of course, you would not, so why do you do to your body?  There is no trading your body in for a newer version.  You have to take care of what you have. 

How do you start to improve your diet?  First, take a garbage bag and remove all the junk out of your house.  That includes sodas, diet sodas, junk food including chips, high sugar cereals, etc.  Then replace it with whole foods, natural foods that can be picked off live plants, lean meats and cheeses, and skim dairy products.  Find a program to begin to count your calories such as  Do not assume you know how many calories you consume until you count them.  This is a great lesson in what comprises the foods you eat.  Another informative website if with free delicious recipes and shopping lists.

How many calories should you be eating?  Enough calories to be greater than your basal metabolic rate (BMR) yet have a 10-20% calorie deficit.  A great resource to calculate calories needed to lose weight can be found at Healthy Calculators,  
Monitor your weight weekly and when you are losing one to two pounds per week this is a safe and healthy weight loss.  If you hit a plateau, look back over your week and readjust either the calories or the activities.  If you continue to have difficulty losing weight consider seeking the advice of your doctor, personal trainer or dietician.  

Last but not least, get rest!  Studies have shown that you need at least seven hours of sleep a night or you risk decreasing your life span.  Your body requires sleep in order to properly handle stress. 

These steps are only the beginning to healthy lifestyle.  When you optimize your body’s potential with a healthy diet and exercise you will lose weight and gain energy.  All of these things will have a positive impact in all aspects of your life.  
About the author

Laurie L. Marbas, MD
Grand River Hospital District
Rifle, CO

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