I'm sure you've heard it many times that excess weight can adversely affect your health. Specifically, the added pounds increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, asthma, kidney failure and other serious illnesses. And it doesn't take much. For instance, every two-pound increase in weight raises your risk of developing arthritis by at least nine percent. And a woman who gains more than 20 pounds after age 18 doubles her risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.
In addition, not only does being overweight affect your health, it can also affect how long you live. Being just 10 to 20 pounds overweight increases your risk of premature death, and the risk rises rapidly if you become extremely overweight, or obese.
The reason our nation is so overweight isn't a mystery: People eat more calories than they work off, and often they shun healthy fruits and vegetables in favor of super-sized junk foods. It sounds simple to solve, but it isn't. Losing weight – or even maintaining our ideal weight – isn't easy, especially with all the high-fat, high-calorie and high-sugar foods available to tempt our taste buds. So what can we do? What lifestyle adjustments can we make so that we can lower our risk of serious illnesses or life-threatening diseases?
First of all, be realistic about your weight-loss goals. Pounds that come off fast usually are gained back even more rapidly. It's best to aim to lose no more than one to two pounds per week.
Second, keep in mind that in order to lose weight, the number of calories you burn has to be greater than the number of calories you eat. Therefore, you must either increase your physical activity and/or decrease the amount of food you eat. (As a rough rule of thumb, one pound equals about 3,500 calories.)
Third, focus on the types of food you eat. Restricting the number of calories you eat in order to lose weight isn't always healthy, especially for many seniors who already have an inadequate amount of calories and nutrients in their diets. (Extreme diets of less than 1,100 calories also carry health risks, such as malnutrition, and are often followed by bingeing or overeating.) So focus on nutrient-dense foods. Studies show that replacing foods high in fat with low-fat complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, are more effective than calorie counting. Also, your fat intake should be no more than 30 percent of total calories, and should be in the form of monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, and essential fats, such as those from fish. Saturated fats, found in animal products, should be minimized and trans-fatty acids from hydrogenated (hardened) oils, like margarine, should be eliminated completely.
Finally, regular physical activity is a critical companion to any weight management program – as well as an essential component for overall health. Studies show that exercise:
Lowers risk for coronary artery disease and high blood pressure.
Improves insulin sensitivity.
Most experts, including the American College of Sports Medicine, recommend building up to 45 to 60 minutes a day of aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, jogging, or riding a bike, in order to lose weight. Resistance, or strength, training (lifting weights) two to three times per week should also be included in your exercise program. By increasing muscle tissue, or lean body mass, you will lose fat. Also, since muscle burns more calories than fat, your metabolism rate (the rate at which your body burns calories for fuel) will increase.
These lifestyle adjustments make up the foundation for an effective weight loss program. To build on that foundation, I also recommend including my Weight Management Program. For over 30 years, I have advised my patients on healthy weight control and weight loss. Using this experience, I've developed Weight Management Support, which contains eight essential minerals, herbs and nutrients that have been shown to increase fat metabolism, suppress your appetite and essentially help your body burn more calories. Taken along with Solumet, a carbohydrate blocker that inhibits the absorption of carbohydrates into your body enabling more fat to be burned as fuel, Weight Management Support can give you the extra boost you need to lose the weight you want.
Achieving your optimal weight can reduce your risk of serious illnesses and diseases and help you live the longer life God has intended for you. Take steps now toward a healthier you in the New Year – and for life!