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Not a Second to Waist: Live Healthier and Longer
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Why all the fuss?
According to a recent government study, 65% of American adults and 16% of American children are overweight or obese. These increased waistlines bring with them an increased risk in heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other lifethreatening diseases. With the constant bombardment by advertisers promising miracle diet pills and weight loss solutions without the work, consumers desperate to lose weight are endlessly chasing the latest fad in the hopes for a quick fix. Despite these promises, the only proven and safe method of losing weight still consists of three things: eating less, exercising more, and setting clear and reachable goals.
Eat in Pro-portion
With many restaurants serving larger portions and fast-food chains boasting breakfast sandwiches weighing in at over 700 calories, it’s no wonder Americans are heavier. Even when people think they are being good by choosing the “low fat” brand of cookies or chips in the snack aisle, they undercut most of the health benefits by eating more. In 2003, the USDA found that American total daily caloric intake has risen from 1,854 calories to 2,002 calories over the last 20 years, amounting to an extra fifteen pounds of bulge each year. During that same period, the percentage of fat in American diets has dropped from 40 percent to 33 percent. The lesson is obvious—cutting fat without cutting overall calories does not produce weight loss. Cooking at home more is a great way to eat less—you control your portion size and as an added bonus you save money. Eating more fruits and vegetables instead of meats or starches also helps lose the belly—since fruits and veggies are lower in calories, you can eat more of them, feeling fuller while not calorie-loading. When you do have a hankering for that steak, remember to eat less; generally, a piece of meat the size of your fist is a good portion size. If you eat out, try eating half your meal and then wrapping up the other half for later.
Work it Out
Eating less is half the battle, but if you really want to see healthy weight loss, you need to exercise as well. It is generally recommended that adults engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity such as walking five times a week for effective weight loss. Just this small amount of exercise could dramatically improve your health, as shown by a Health Human Services clinical trial whose participants lost 5-7 percent of their body weight and reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. In addition to reducing the risk of diseases, exercise ensures that the weight you lose is not muscle, but fat. Exercise also increases your metabolism, helping you burn fat faster and slim your waistline quicker.
One of the most common problems people experience when losing weight is that they want to have their ideal body in a month’s time. They starve themselves and work out like crazy, become worn out and frustrated, and in a few weeks end up back in the same unhealthy eating pattern, only a few pounds heavier. Setting realistic and reachable goals is the best way to lose weight safely and for good. You can’t train for a marathon when you’ve never run before by going out and running 26 miles, so why would you do the equivalent when losing weight? It is recommended that you lose about two pounds per week for safe and healthy weight loss. If you’re starting a new workout program and you’ve spent the last five years on the couch, begin slowly. Walk short distances and gradually increase both distance and speed. If you’re weight training, lift light weights and if you feel soreness in your joints, reduce the amount of weight you’re using. Setting simple and reachable goals like walking five miles per week gives you a sense of accomplishment when you’ve achieved your goal and motivates you to set even higher levels of fitness.
Before starting any diet and exercise program, be sure to consult a physician. Factors such as age, height, weight, and family medical history often decide at what intensity level a person should be training. For more information about diet, check out the new food pyramid at http://www.mypyramid.gov released by the USDA, where you can find out your personal food intake and activity level. To make sure you lose the weight and keep it off, remember that this is a lifestyle change, and one that will lead to a healthier you.