America is currently undergoing a healthcare crisis! This crisis is NOT because of a lack of health care coverage for all Americans. The problem is obesity. America is fat! 6 out of 10 Americans are overweight or obese. Americans spend $4.4 billion per year on gastric bypass every year. Americans spend $147,000,000,000 (that is Billion!!!) per year on obesity related health issues. Of note, we spend $90 billion per year on cancer.
If you went from being obese to being at your ideal weight, you would save $1,000,000 over 40 years. Obese employees earn $7000 per year less than non-obese people. Individual and healthcare costs are enormous for obese people.
Losing weight boils down to a very simple concept.
Burn more calories than you consume.
Thus, there are 2 components to weight loss: calories burned (metabolsim) and calories consumed (diet/nutrition). It is important to address weight loss from both of these perspectives as they both play a critical role in successful, long-term weight loss.
Calories burned through metabolism can be broken down into 2 categories: Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and activity.
Activity metabolism is a result of daily activities and exercise. The more active you are, and the more you exercise, the greater your caloric expenditure.
Your resting metabolism is due to a number of factors such as body composition and hormonal influences. The greater your lean muscle mass, the greater your caloric burn - even while you sleep. This is why it is important to include muscle building activities into your exercise program. It is also why yo-yo dieting is so detrimental.
When you diet inappropriately and do not support your body with proper nutrition and exercise you often end up metabolizing your muscle to support normal body functions. This results in a loss of lean muscle mass and a subsequent decline in metabolism. These people often gain their total weight back but with a lower lean muscle mass.
Metabolism is also supported by proper nutrition. Your body will often decrease its metabolic rate in 'starvation mode' as a survival mechanism. It is important to fuel your body with proper nutrition for ultimate health.
You need carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in appropriate proportions. However, it is important to ensure that most of your carbohydrates are complex, low-glycemic index carbohydrates and your proteins are derived from lean sources. Fats should be unsaturated (such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) - avoid saturated and trans fatty acids.
Your total caloric intake must be less than your metabolism/caloric burn or you will not lose weight and burn body fat. Do NOT assume that severely cutting your calories will yield the results you want.
There are things that can be done to 'tip the scale' in your favor. These will be the subjects of future posts. There are no 'magic pills' or quick solutions. Anything, or anyone, that promises fast results without ultimately addressing these 2 issues is either extremely unhealthy or a scam (in my opinion).
Start considering your exercise and nutrition plan. Losing weight really is this simple but there are many factors that can confound these issues.
Losing weight requires sacrifice. Your road won't be easy. For some, it may be the toughest thing you will ever do. But, your life depends on it.
You have to make a decision. To quote Yoda (from Star Wars) "Do or do not. There is no try." You must make a decision today to live everyday, or die everyday. It won't be easy, but it is simple. You simply have to make a decision to make the changes required. As stated above, losing weight is as simple as tipping the scale in favor of burning more than you consume.
You will need to decrease your caloric intake. You will need to eat healthy. You have to give up most of your cake and deserts. You need to get up off your back-side and start moving.
There are many things that you can do to burn calories. Do not let perfection be the enemy of good - in other words, do something. Anything. Go for a walk or, better yet, start running.
Start lifting weights or some other form of muscle building exercise, you'll need the muscle.
Quit drinking calories (no sweet tea, colas, juice, milk, etc).
You can't go for a run and tell yourself that you have earned the right to have that box of fries. You have to burn calories AND decrease their intake. Many foods are just too calorie dense to burn off by a 3, 4, or even 5 mile run.
Ensure that every calorie you put in your mouth means something (has nutritional value).
Start thinking of food as fuel
Some can do it all on their own. Most will need help.
There are NO magic pills! There are some things that can help. You still have to do the work. Anyone who tells you any different is selling a lie.
If you aren't ready to commit 100%, do yourself a favor and don't lie to yourself. Make the changes you can, it will all help. But don't expect serious results! If you have decided that you are ready and will do what it takes, buckle your seat belt. Its going to be an incredible journey. And it will be worth every step.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard "but I've done everything and nothing works. I've been exercising and cut my calories to 1000 per day. It just isn't working."
There is something missing here. It is simple physics.
Over time, if you eat more than you burn you will gain weight. The converse is also true. It is simple mathematics.
Some people can make the appropriate adjustments without difficulty. Others have to take more drastic steps.
I'm certain you've heard the expression "If you fail to plan then you plan to fail." When being overweight or having too much body fat is an issue it is generally a problem of not having a plan and sticking with it.
You may have good intentions of eating correctly, counting calories, etc. But if you don't have a plan you will, most certainly, fail. To start, you must know where you are. I think one of the best ways to do this is with a food journal.
You should record EVERYTHING you put in your mouth. EVERYTHING!!! This includes water, gum, food, beverages, etc. Once you know where you are, you'll likely be able to identify what is wrong.
It is important to consider additional components of food such as oils it may have been cooked in, buttered bread, or anything else that may have been added. This is especially an issue when eating out.
You may order the steamed or grilled veggies but they may have a seasoned butter sauce drizzled over them. Your steak may have a butter sauce on it. Your salad may have twice the dressing that you thought (always get it on the side!). You have to be very careful how you order things and they way they are prepared. Remember, account for everything.
You must know how much you are taking in. Otherwise, you will never know what adjustments need to be made.
The scientific method requires the manipulation of only one variable and evaluating the results. The fact is, many people are inadvertently manipulating multiple variables without even knowing it.
This results in erratic responses and, ultimately, frustration. They will make some changes without knowing exactly what they are changing and hope for the results they want. This often leads to further frustration, depression, and failure. It doesn't have to be this way!
The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed
The body requires energy for nearly every function it performs, even during sleep and rest. We must eat in order to fuel these functions.
However, excess energy (calories) in the human body is mostly stored as fat. When our consumption exceeds the resupply of carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and proteins, the rest is stored as adipose tissue (fat).
If you don't take in enough calories to meet the energy demands, we will typically begin utilizing fats. For example, if we need 1500 calories per day in order to meet all energy needs but only consume 1200 calories, we have a 300 calorie per day deficit.
1 pound of body fat contains approximately 3500 calories.
Therefore, you should lose a pound every 12 days or so. Since energy cannot be created, taking in less energy (calories) than required forces the body to utilize energy stores. This will result in a reduction in fat stores (although it can also be due to muscle loss as well - the subject of another article).
The problem is that most people are horrible at being able to accurately estimate the number of calories they consume!
Even if they are accounting for everything they put in their mouth, they often fail at estimating the quantity. They are inaccurate at estimating the actual size of that chicken breast, amount of green beans, volume of rice, or weight of food X. This is a huge problem if you are trying to accurately state your caloric intake and make adjustments on it.