According to several health experts, overweight and obesity has become the number one health problem in the United States today. The majority of Americans are either overweight or obese (extremely heavy), and the end appears to be nowhere in sight. Making the issue even more critical, obesity claims approximately 300,000 lives each year, second only to cigarette smoking.
Part of addressing this escalating health issue is taking personal responsibility for your own weight. The first step is to honestly and accurately assess your weight to determine just how many pounds you may need to lose. This brochure will outline ways to assess your weight as well as explore some simple strategies to help you maintain a healthy weight.
Source: Surgeon General, CDC, and Dr. Donnica.com
Certainly, there are several contributing factors for why Americans are gaining so much weight—a problem so widespread is bound to be pretty complicated. But after all is said and done, experts agree on at least three key factors driving overweight and obesity in the US today. They are outlined below.
Factor #1: The Working Life
The world of work is changing. Cell phones, pagers, faxes, and e-mails now dominate our working lives. And while Americans aren’t working any less, they are moving less. 100 years ago, most people made their living through hard physical work—farming the land, building railroads, and burning calories. Today, more than half of us sit in front of a computer all day, burning very few calories at all. Even those of us not using computers during the day are burning fewer calories because of technological advancements that make our work easier.
Factor #2: Food, Food, Food
Food is abundantly available—in fact, it’s everywhere. And America is eating it up. Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music—combined. Consider this: In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they spent more than $110 billion.
Factor #3: Our Sedentary Society
In total, there are 168 hours in every week. The vast majority—nearly 70%—are devoted to sedentary activities. Consider that employed adults work an average of 47 hours per week. In addition, the typical American spends 16 hours and 55 minutes sitting in front of the TV, and averages 50.6 hours of sleep. These three everyday activities alone account for over 113 sedentary hours per week—almost five days of not moving!
Sources: Fast Food Nation, The Overworked American, and The National Sleep Foundation
Listed here you’ll find three key things to keep in mind when attempting to lose weight—they will be referenced throughout this booklet. Don’t forget to check with your healthcare provider before making important changes, and remember to take it slow. Getting hurt is no fun, and it will set you back in reaching your goals.
1. Adjust Your Diet.
A few simple changes can make a big difference when it comes to what you eat. Because one pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories, cutting just a few hundred calories out of your diet each day can go a long way. Easy ways to cut calories include eating less dressing and sauce and substituting an apple or banana for your afternoon candy bar.
2. Increase Physical Activity.
We’re not talking about running a marathon here—in fact that’s the last thing you want to do if you’re just getting started. Begin to increase physical activity by making small changes like parking your car farther away from the entrance of a store or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Later, you may want to start taking short walks in the evening hours after work.
3. Avoid Fad Diets.
Stay away from fad diets at all costs. Why? Plain and simple, they just don’t work. The only way to lose weight and keep it off is to adjust what you eat and get more activity into your daily routine.
One of the most important steps people can take to protect their health is becoming aware of their true weight status. Our weight, be it healthy or not, can be an important risk factor for a number of diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. In fact, more than 300,000 Americans die each year from diseases caused or worsened by overweight and obesity. So, it’s important to know your true weight status.
You’re probably wondering, “How can I determine my true weight status?” Unfortunately, because we tend to underestimate our weight, and overestimate our health, we need some help. The best way to measure our weight status is, “by the numbers.” This means using a tool like Body Mass Index (BMI). Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds, and understanding BMI could be one of the most important things to know about your health. The rest of this brochure will help you understand a little bit more about this tool for determining your weight status.
Body Mass Index (BMI), is one of the best measures of our true weight status. Put simply, BMI is a common measure expressing the relationship of weight-to-height, and is an easy calculation using inches and pounds.
When calculated, your BMI will help you determine your true weight status as either un-derweight, normal, overweight, or obese. These BMI ranges are based on the effect of weight status on disease and death. Generally, as a person’s BMI increases, so does their risk for a number of health conditions and diseases.
These include the risk of premature death, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, cancer, and diabetes.
The BMI Chart found on the following page (Chart 2) makes determining your BMI easy. Simply find your height and weight and circle the number where the two lines intersect. This is your BMI. Once you have determined your BMI, you can use this number to determine weight status (using Chart 1—underweight, normal, overweight, or obese). BMI values for adults are interpreted using a fixed number, regardless of age or sex, using the following guidelines:
Using Chart 1, we can tell that a BMI of 28.5 is clinically defined as being overweight. As Chart 2 shows, as BMI increases, your risk for disease increases as well.
Recently, the “Mediterranean Diet” has received increased attention as a healthy way to reduce weight and maintain excellent health and body weight over the course of your lifetime. The term “Mediterranean Diet” refers to the traditional diet consumed by people who live around the Mediterranean Sea. And while foods consumed in that part of the world often differ from country to country, the common thread is a plant-based diet low in meat and moderate in fat—with much of the fat coming from olive oil. Numerous studies attest to the health benefits of this diet and prove that traditional Mediterranean foods are ideal for long-term weight management.
The following list comes from Mary Flynn, PhD, expert on the Mediterranean Diet and author of Low Fat Lies, High Fat Frauds, And The Healthiest Diet In The World. Flynn suggests stocking up on the following items and making them a regular part of your diet. Doing so will help you manage your weight and live a long, healthy life—all the while enjoying what you eat!
You don’t have to stop eating all your favorite foods in order to eat healthy. In fact, you can still enjoy ice cream or occasional fast food, as long as you control your portions and are physically active on most days of the week. Remember, like most things in life, the key to eating healthy is moderation.
So how much is too much? Well, serving sizes are designed to help you determine how much to eat at meals so you won’t over-indulge on some of your favorites. Check out the suggestions listed here to help you judge if you’re eating the right serving sizes. With the help of some visual aids, eating the right amounts won’t be such a challenge.
The following comparisons will help you estimate the right amount of food to eat in one sitting.
Try the following tips the next time you visit your favorite restaurant—they’ll help you control your portion sizes.
OK, so those are some tips for eating out, what about reducing portion sizes when eating at home? Check out the following tips.
Cutting portion sizes takes some getting used to. If, after attempting to cut your portion size, you’re still feeling hungry, try filling up on fruits and vegetables. The American Cancer Society recommends five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day to help prevent cancer, and chances are you’re not getting enough. By filling up on fruits and vegetables, you’ll not only cut your cancer risk but you’ll also be substituting low calorie, high-fiber food for higher calorie foods and snacks. Plain and simple, in the battle to cut portion size, fruits and vegetables will help you feel full and save on calories at the same time. Give ‘em a try!
Source: American Cancer Society
Only 1 in 5 Americans eats the recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. But, what would you think if someone told you that consuming the daily-recommended number of fruits and vegetables could dramatically reduce your risk for serious diseases like heart disease or cancer? Would you doubt it? If so, you may just be surprised by the amazing preventive power of fruits and vegetables.
By now we know that eating five to nine servings of fruits and veggies every day isn’t easy. Our lives are extremely busy, and sometimes just finding enough time to eat is difficult—let alone finding time to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.
But have no fear—there’s no reason to get down about our diets. Below you’ll find three strategies that will help you eat great throughout the day, no matter where you are, what your budget is like, or how much time you have. Let’s take a look.
If you think about it, fruits and veggies are actually some of the fastest and simplest foods to eat and cook with. Below you’ll find some ideas on how to fit fruits and vegetables into your daily eating routine.
Slice a banana or some strawberries on top of your usual bowl of cereal. You may also want to drink some fruit juice. As long as it’s 100% juice, just six ounces counts as one serving toward your five a day.
Pack some carrot sticks or broccoli for dipping instead of those greasy potato chips. Not only will you get one of your five a day servings out of the way, but you’ll cut fat and calories at the same time.
There’s nothing like a baked potato as part of a healthy dinner—as long as you don’t load it up with toppings that increase calories and fat. Also, cooking up a can of corn or green beans in the microwave is about as simple as it gets.
Depending on what you buy and when, fresh fruits and veggies can be expensive. But they don’t have to be. Check out these tips for saving big when it comes to getting your five a day.
Be a Bargain Hunter
When learning how to shop smart for fruits and vegetables, you’ll need to learn your prices. Once you have a good idea of what constitutes a good deal, you’ll be able to load up on your favorite items. Don’t forget, it helps tremendously if you can buy produce that’s in season and local. You won’t pay extra to have it shipped.
Once you learn to recognize a bargain when you see one, chances are you’ll have too much produce to eat before it spoils. The solution? Just freeze it. There’s nothing wrong with freezing fruit. It keeps very well and in some cases, can make fruit even easier to work with. Consider refrigerating bananas, the skins may darken, but they’ll last a few days longer.
Let It Grow
Looking for the ultimate money saving technique when it comes to getting your five a day? Grow a garden! Sure, there will be some expense wrapped up in seed, water, and fertilizer, but the cost will be quite low. Plus, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of eating homegrown food. Eat healthy and start a new hobby all at once!
There’s no doubt that Americans are working harder, and spending more time at work than at any other point in history. But this no excuse to eat poorly—in fact, quite the opposite is true. If we’re going to maintain our work pace, we have to make sure we’re getting the nutrition and energy we need. The fact is you can get your five a day no matter where you are.
Eating Away from Home
The key to getting your Five A Day—even when you’re away from the house—is sub-stituting. Just because your favorite restaurant has certain menu items, doesn’t mean you have to stick to them. Try substituting fresh fruit for fries, or vegetables in place of potato chips.
Eating in the Car
Americans are spending more and more time in their cars—either commuting to and from work, or racing around running errands. To eat healthier when you’re out and about, try keeping some dried fruit in your glove compartment, or bring something easy like cauliflower or grapes to snack on in between stops.
Most foods people consume at work come straight from the vending machine. And these foods, rather than being loaded with healthy vitamins and minerals, are packed with extra calories and loads of fat. The following tips can help you eat healthier when you’re at the office.
If your idea of stretching is to reach across the table for another chicken wing, think again. Stretching is a great way for everyone to prevent aches and pains and can also help prevent injuries from overuse and repetitive motions, which account for one-third of all missed workdays. So what do you need to know about stretching? Remember the four basics—how to start, how to stretch, how often, and how long.
How Do I Start?
Warming up can help your stretching results. A light warm-up before stretching can help increase your range of motion, but will not prevent injury. Try jumping jacks or walking in place to get the muscles active and warm.
How Should I Stretch?
Slow and controlled—not fast—and avoid bouncing. Also, it’s best to hold the stretch continuously for 15 to 30 seconds per muscle group. If you feel any pain, back off. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that you have gone beyond your limits.
One stretch per muscle group, once a day should be sufficient. However, some muscle groups may require more stretching.
For 15 to 30 seconds per muscle group. Research shows that this is effective for both immediate and long-term results. These recommendations are for healthy individuals. If you are injured or have other health conditions, be sure to consult your physician before starting a routine.
Source: Physicians and Sportsmedicine
When starting an exercise program, most of us have the very best of intentions. We want to jump right in and lose those extra pounds. But it’s important to remember that beginning an exercise program is something you’ll want to take slowly. After you’ve become better conditioned to regular exercise, you’ll want to step it up, but slow and safe is the best prescription when first getting started.
So what exactly is slow and safe? When you first begin, try exercising 3 times a week for 20 minutes, working up to a goal of exercising for 30 minutes, 4 to 6 times a week. And you don’t have to get in all your exercise at one time. You may want to exercise twice a day for fifteen minutes or take three, 10-minute walks.
In fact, multiple, quick exercise sessions (like exercising during your lunch break) may help you incorporate exercise more easily into your busy schedule. Building your capacity and sticking with it means positioning yourself for success. To give yourself a better chance of sticking with it and achieving your goals, try exercising with a friend or a family member—it makes exercise more fun and adds an element of accountability. Also, mix up your activities. Try walking, swimming, or riding your bike to add variety to your exercise routine.
Are you a “weekend warrior?” Do you try to push yourself during exercise or sports even when you know you shouldn’t? If you answered, “yes” to these questions, you’re a prime candidate for an exercise injury. In addition to following the central recommendations in this brochure, keep the following six quick tips in mind to stay even safer when exercising.
The plain and simple fact about fad diets—regardless of what they promise—is this: THEY DON’T WORK. And not only are they ineffective, but some can also be very dangerous for you. But despite their danger, millions and millions of Americans are looking for “quick-fix” weight loss solutions.
There are many reasons fad diets are flawed, but they all share one thing in common. They don’t encourage behavior change. Losing weight, and keeping it off for life requires you to make actual lifestyle changes. You have to develop good eating habits, and make physical activity a part of your life. And believe it or not, this isn’t breaking news—the word “diet” actually comes from the Greek word “diaita,” which means, “manner of living.” Even the ancient Greeks understood that losing weight was a matter of making lifestyle changes.
The following are common flaws shared by fad diets…
Read on to learn more about spotting fad diets, and what it takes to lose weight safely.
Losing weight takes hard work and dedication. You’ve got to exercise when you feel like sitting, and eat healthy foods when that cheeseburger and fries is calling your name. The fact is ninety-five percent of all dieters falling for false promises and miracle solutions regain their lost weight plus more within 1 to 5 years. The following characteristics will help you spot a fad diet a mile away…
Miracle foods that burn fat.
There is no such thing as “foods that burn fat.” Healthy weight loss involves nutritious eating and increased physical activity.
Look out for “miracle diets” that involve bizarre quantities of food. You’re better off paying attention to the portion sizes of foods you normally eat. Oftentimes, portion sizes are twice what they should be for healthy eating.
A healthy diet is a balanced diet. If you find a diet that rigidly restricts what you eat, take a closer look—it may be a fad diet.
Specific food combinations.
As far as combinations are concerned, the two most important combinations involved with managing your weight are diet and exercise. Eat nutritiously and exercise more.
Rapid weight loss.
Be aware of diets or programs that promise rapid weight loss. In a typical, healthy weight loss program, you shouldn’t lose more than 2 pounds per week.
No physical activity involved.
Managing and losing weight is a matter of calories in, calories out. To burn calories in a healthy way, you need to increase the amount of physical activity you’re getting. When you find a diet that doesn’t involve physical activity—it’s not healthy.
There are literally hundreds and hundreds of fad diets on the market today. In fact, the diet industry has become a booming business—Americans spend more than $30 billion per year on diet plans, equipment, and supplements. But Americans are still gaining weight. That’s because fad diets, like the popular ones below, can’t help you lose or maintain weight safely. Avoid these fad diets at all costs.
Suspect #1: The Food Specific Diet
Food specific diets are diets that require you to eat a specific food designed to encourage weight loss. These types of diets, especially if sustained over a long period of time, can deny your body important nutrients it needs to function properly.
Suspect #2: The High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Diet
The idea behind this fad diet is that cutting “carbs” will cut calories. And while this diet can be effective in cutting calories, it fails to acknowledge the important role carbohydrates play in providing your body the energy it needs for an active life.
Suspect #3: The High-Fiber, Low-Calorie Diet
Although fiber is an important part of a healthy diet, and can play an important role in weight loss, this diet typically encourages the consumption of unusually high levels of fiber, which can cause diarrhea, bloating, and cramping.
Suspect #4: The Liquid Diet
Although liquid diets can produce short-term weight loss, they fail in a major way because they do not encourage any behavior change. Liquid diets can very often be too low in calories, which will eventually inhibit your body’s ability to lose weight.
Suspect #5: The Fasting Diet
Fasting actually slows your body’s ability to lose weight. When you fast, your body isn’t getting the fuel it needs. Instinctively, your body begins storing fat and burning muscle, which slows your metabolism—making it harder to lose weight.
Nutrition Fast Facts
Source: Fast Food Nation
The information contained in this guide was taken from WELCOA’s line of Nutrition bro-chures and has been reviewed for accuracy. This information is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. If you have any questions about managing your own health and/or seeking medical care, please contact a medical professional.
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