What’s The Big Deal About Getting Big?

So who cares if you’re carrying a few extra pounds? Perhaps being a little chunky doesn’t bother you. But think again, it’s not just looks that count. Did you know that the number one cause of death in the United States these days is obesity?  In fact, according to the AMA, “Someone who is 40% overweight is twice as likely to die prematurely as is a normal-weight person.”

Yikes! Those are dire odds!

The short list of diseases includes:

Heart disease and stroke.
High blood pressure.
Diabetes.
Cancer.
Gallbladder disease and gallstones.
Osteoarthritis.
Gout.

Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea (when a person stops breathing for a short episodes during sleep) and asthma.
Chronic disease is increased exponentially for people who are overweight or obese compared to normal-weight individuals. Obesity is defined as when a person weighs at least 20% more than the maximum healthy weight for his or her height.

The good news is that by just losing 10 to 20 pounds, a person can bring significant health improvements, such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  But how to do it?  We all know stories of individuals going on kamikaze-diets and dropping 20 pounds in two weeks.  Unsurprisingly, that approach comes with its own dire consequences and health risks.

Typically, weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week is the most maintainable and achievable. As a rule, one pound of fat contains 3,500 calories. That said, in order to lose 1 pound a week, you need to burn 500 more calories than you eat each day (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories).  To amplify the problem, once our bodies become accustomed to storing fat, they like to hold on to it AND as our metabolism slows down with age, it gets harder to shed the extra poundage.

In my humble opinion, diet is a four letter word.  Making small changes in one’s eating habits is the smartest approach.  Small sustainable steps are the way to go.  For instance, try focusing mostly on fruits and vegetables, or simply cut out “white” foods like refined sugar and flour.  By investing time and energy into finding and gaining skills to maintain your healthy weight now, you will undoubtedly save yourself a great deal of heart ache, discomfort, and medical bills in the future.

Cindy Nasky