women

The Fat Stats

This journey shall begin with what I call “the Fat Stats.” You know, those gloomy statistics that are so depressing they can drive any one of us to a doughnut shop for a pure panic pastry attack. I’m talking about those nasty numbers that make you want to throw your arms up and say, “why bother?” After all, it is estimated that almost 40 million Americans are obese—about one-third of all adults and one in five children. More than 50 percent of our entire population is considered overweight.

As a result of this high incidence, obesity is reported to contribute to at least 300,000 deaths in this country and hundreds of millions of dollars in health care costs each year. Before you grab that glazed confection, let’s look at this scenario a little more closely. Being aware of the fat stats and putting my program into practice can help you change those figures—well, at least your figure. And that’s the one that counts!

In the old days, being overweight and even obese was a sign of prosperity and wealth. The more prosperity and wealth we had, the better we ate and the more corpulent we looked. Perhaps that is the real reason why the fat king in the fairy tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, ran around naked. He probably really was showing off his extra girth to prove his gross worth. Who knew it was a PR stunt? What a catch! Today, we look at body weight in just the opposite way. The smarter we are, the richer we are, the more visible we are, the thinner we want to be. We feel that our weight reflects on us as a person. Excess weight makes us look as though we don’t take care of ourselves. There is much we can discover from these very diverse attitudes. The good news is that, finally, you are holding in your hands a diet plan that sorts it out. We shall explore this further in my program.

First, it is imperative that we define the terms overweight and obesity. They are often used interchangeably in speech, but they are quite different in meaning. An overweight person is defined as one who carries extra weight in the form of muscles, bones, water, and fat. An overweight person could be a competitive athlete who may have increased muscle mass or a person with short stature who may have a large bone structure. On the other hand, an obese person has an excess of body fat only. His or her weight is found in extra fat stores throughout various parts of the body. Knowing this can help you understand where you really weigh in and how much you realistically need to lighten up!

Excess Weight—Risky Business

There are no two ways to look at excess weight—quite simply, it’s risky business! Unless you are yearning for unhealthy drama in your life, there are plenty of good reasons to take off extra pounds. Just losing as few as ten or twenty pounds can do wonders to improve your overall health. Getting to know obesity risks and understanding your body shape can serve as tools to help you prevent disease as well as significantly improve your outlook on life. Oh, and did I forget to mention that you just might look hotter than before, which can rev up your self esteem tenfold? Hey, baby—toss those attitude shirts away. You don’t need them. Newfound confidence after healthy weight loss is in the writing all over your face. And if excess weight is risky business, making these healthy improvements can be risky, too—you just might like the new you!

The Risks of Being Obese

Here are some of the risks of being obese:

  • Being obese puts people at risk for some types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, gallbladder disease, and hypertension (high blood pressure)—some of which are leading causes of death in America today.
  • Being obese adds stress to the body; extra weight makes your body work harder to function—it becomes harder to breathe, move, and keep the heart beating normally.
  • Being obese causes depression; it is not uncommon to find many obese persons who are depressed about life in general.
  • Being obese reduces your self-esteem.
  • Being obese may cause discrimination; obese individuals can face discrimination at work, school, and in social situations, too.

Obesity as a Disease

People who carry excess weight are often ridiculed for putting it on and keeping it on. Until recently, obesity in a person was thought of as a sign of the person’s lack of willpower. It was a stigma assigned to people who were thought to have no control over what and how much they ate. Although many people still have this prejudice, medical experts now categorize obesity as a disease, just like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer. It’s a disease that many people have no control over. It’s time to exhibit some compassion, people!

Recent efforts by medical experts and the National Institutes of Health have labeled obesity as a disease—a disease that is caused in part by genetics, the environment, and psychological factors. It is known to lead to other chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, gallbladder disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer. All of these chronic conditions can lead to illness and even premature death. I’m not just talking about adults. The number of overweight children and teens has risen more than 200 percent in the last decade. That’s a scary stat! Obviously, not everyone needs to be as slim, as trim, and the size of a model. In fact, for many individuals who do not need to lose weight, weight loss offers no health benefits and can often be more harmful than helpful. However, for those who do need to lose the weight, losing even ten, twenty, or thirty pounds can bring on tremendous health benefits—decreasing blood pressure, reducing blood glucose levels, lowering cholesterol, increasing self esteem, and even bringing on a sense of accomplishment.

How Your Shape Affects Health Risk

Every person is shaped differently. Two people can be the same height and the same weight and yet be built in totally different ways. Your size, your shape, and how you work that body can raise or lower your risk of obesity. That means you can gain a lot from understanding your body type—I mean “lose” a lot! There is more than one way to study different body types. For our purposes we will bite into an apple- and pear-shape discussion.

Apple versus Pear.   Where a person carries his excess weight is a determinant of overall health risk. Men or women who store fat around their stomach or middle portion of the body are at greater risk of complications than those who carry weight on their hips, thighs, or buttocks. This is largely because the fat that accumulates around the vital bodily organs is more critical than that which accumulates around the legs and thighs. Often compared to the shape of an apple or a pear, body shapes are important in assessing risk of obesity-related health concerns.

Waist-to-Hip Ratio.   Are you an apple or a pear? Many of us instinctively already know from years of scrutinizing our bodies where we pack on excess pounds. However, using the waist-to-hip ratio formula can help you determine with more accuracy where your fat accumulates and help you to understand your body type better. Measure your waist at the narrowest spot. Then measure your hips at the widest spot. Divide the inches from the waist measurement by the inches of the hip measurement. For example, a person with a 38-inch waist and 40-inch hips would calculate her ratio like so: 38 divided by 40 = 0.95. A person with a 30-inch waist and 40-inch hips would calculate as 30 divided by 40 = 0.75. Women with ratios lower than 0.80 and men with ratios lower than 1.0 are considered “pear-shaped.” Women who have a ratio greater than 0.80 and men who have a ratio of greater than 1.0 are considered “apple-shaped.” They are therefore at greater health risk due to their body shape and fat distribution.

Whether you are a pear or an apple shape, there are plenty of things you can do to look and feel your best. I always say that whether you are a pear or an apple, at least you can have a juicy life!

Why Are You Fat? The Blame Game

We’ve established the fact that adults and children are fatter than ever before but what about you? If you are overweight or obese you should ask yourself—why? It’s very easy to point fingers when we don’t feel very good about ourselves. Besides health-related issues, there are many other factors that can contribute to obesity in our society. Gadgets like the remote control, garage door openers, computers, and video games are just some of the contributing factors. People just don’t have to move anymore to do what they need to do and get what they need to get. Kids are not as active as they used to be. Transportation is available everywhere. School physical education programs are limited in many schools. And the abundance of fast foods, convenience foods, and frequent snacks tends to cause additional weight gain. Poor eating habits in parents also lead to poor eating habits in children. These habits are passed on from generation to generation. As a result, children are more overweight than ever before. Their risk rises with obese parents, and even more so with obese siblings. To really understand these factors and understand why you may be overweight, let’s explore.

What Causes Obesity?

This is simpler than most of us care to admit. The majority of people become obese from eating too much and/or not moving enough. If you consume more food than your body needs or use up less energy than your body takes in, then you are going to gain weight.

Heredity and Genetic Factors.   Nowadays, it seems that everyone is blaming their weight gain on heredity and genetics. It is true that for a small number of individuals these factors could come into play. Genetic factors can result in endocrine problems as a result of an underactive thyroid. That means the metabolism slows down, which can contribute to weight gain. If you truly are dealing with serious genetic factors, my heart goes out to you. However, you can offset the hand of cards you were dealt by paying close attention to a healthier lifestyle and using the suggestions in my program.

On the flip side, many people may want to believe that their problem is genetic. This is most often the exception rather than the rule. It’s not uncommon for obesity to run in families. However, it’s most likely that a combination of genetics with lifestyle and eating habits is to blame.

Environmental Factors.   A person’s environment also can contribute to obesity. Take a look at your own surroundings. If you live and work in a place where everyone eats large meals and acts like a couch potato, it’s likely that your habits will follow suit. And, of course, your overall size may be a factor in extra weight gain.

For example—I am petite with a small body mass due to my genetics. A small body mass means there should be less to feed. I confess though that there are times I want to wolf down the same if not bigger portion sizes that my larger and taller counterparts can. It doesn’t seem fair, but it is what it is.

Being aware of these factors can help you conquer a potential or current weight problem. What we know about gaining weight is simple: What goes in must be balanced with what goes out. With my program, you will discover how to balance your food intake with your physical activity to maintain a healthy weight.

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