Happy New Year from Ames Walker! As you celebrate, we are sure that some of you are making health and fitness resolutions. That’s great! Did you know that January is National Healthy Weight awareness month? If not you can read here all about it:
National Healthy Weight Awareness Month falls in January, most likely as a result of so many New Year’s resolutions focusing on the topic. However, many people simply set resolutions to “lose weight” not to reach a “healthy weight”, and there is a big difference. To become healthier, you need to know why excess weight is so bad for our bodies, what a healthy weight range is, and steps to take in order to reach your healthy weight.
What exactly is the cost of excess weight? In actual dollar terms, in 1998 excess body weight and obesity accounted for about 10% of U.S. medical expenses according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that about one million dollars are spent annually on diet and weight loss products. In terms of overall health, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that excess weight and obesity contribute to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer. Additionally, excess weight negatively affects blood pressure and cholesterol and put increased strain on your joints. Mentally, obesity can lead to low self esteem because of feelings of rejection, social discrimination, unattractiveness, and guilt from a perceived lack of self control. All of these add up to a very high cost to carry excess weight.
Now that we’ve covered the reasons for reaching your healthy weight, we need to discover what a healthy weight is. One common method for determining your healthy weight range is to use a body mass index (BMI). The CDC website has a calculator to determine your BMI (www.cdc.gov). However, BMI does not take into account how much of your weight is muscle and how much is fat. Another tool is to use waist circumference. Measure just above your hip bones all the way around your waist, holding the tape measure firmly against your skin. For men, waist circumference should not exceed 40 inches and women, unless pregnant, should not exceed 35 inches. To get a full picture of where you are health wise, you should consult a fitness professional to have more accurate tests performed. One accurate but affordable test is electrical impedance, which sends an electrical current through the body and measures the resistance as muscle is a good conductor of electricity but fat is not. While BMI and waist circumference should not be seen as the gold standard for healthy weight measures, they are helpful for establishing a target weight range.
We know now why excess fat is bad for us and what range we’re shooting for, but how do we get there? To lose weight, the basic equation is to eat less and move more. Eating less though doesn’t mean volume-wise but calorie-wise. Begin by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Substitute low fat dairy products for your usual full fat and choose leaner cuts of meat. Choose whole grains over refined carbohydrates whenever possible. Also remember that some foods, while high calorie, have significant health benefits. These include the healthy fats in avocadoes and nuts as well as the fiber in beans. On the flip side, remember that just because they’re healthy they don’t become calorie free. Be sure to enjoy these foods in moderation. As you reduce your calorie intake, remember also to watch your sodium and sugar intake. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, and too much sugar will cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Finally, don’t forget to drink plenty of water every day to help support proper functioning of all your body’s systems.
Physical activity is also a key ingredient to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. The government recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity workout, as stated on the CDC website. The best way to get this activity in is to find things you love doing. Take a walk with your husband, ride bikes with your kids, or swim laps at a local pool. If you love dancing, find a class and sign up. Cardio workouts don’t necessarily mean you have to hit a gym. If you enjoy time on the treadmill, then go for it! If not though, you are more likely to stick with your workouts if you do what you love. To fit in even more workout time, follow simple steps to sneak in exercise. These include parking in the furthest spot when running errands, take grocery bags out of the car one at a time, walk to the mailbox instead of driving, and pace around the table while talking on your phone. You’ll be surprised at how many extra steps you can take in a day by making these small changes!
Now that you know why being at your healthy weight is important, what that weight is, and how to reach it, you can jumpstart your efforts to get there. Maybe, with the help of these tips, 2010 will be the year you finally realize your New Year’s resolution to lose weight for good!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Healthy Weight - It’s Not a Diet, It’s a Lifestyle.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Harvard Publications, “Effects of Obesity and Exercise: Is Obesity a Mental Issue?” Harvard University.
Jones, JC, “Healthy Weight Week January 21-27.” Healthline Networks, Inc.
World Health Organization, “Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health.” World Health Organization.
As you charge forward into the New Year and declare that you will be healthier this year, let Ames Walker help by keeping your legs happy and healthy too. Click here to shop our wide selection of Active and Athletic products: http://www.ameswalker.com/active.html
And once again, Happy New Year!