This word makes most people cringe. It is a topic that very few want to discuss. Even healthcare providers fail to have medical discussions with their patients about obesity. But this topic is so very important, not for reasons of vanity, but also for your health.
Let’s start with the definition of obesity. The National Institute of Health defines obesity as a BMI (body mass index) greater than 30. This number correlates height and weight to determine an estimated body fat measurement. To calculate a BMI, simply type “BMI calculator” into google! Plug your height and weight in and you get a number. A normal BMI is 18.5-24.9. A BMI can tell you if you are underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese. Another measurement of obesity is waist size. For women a waist size over 35 inches and 40 inches in men with two or more medical problems linked to weight is considered obese.
The biggest problem with obesity is the health complications that are associated with it. Obesity affects every single organ system. Some medical problems can be reversed, but others are permanent. Some of the most common medical problems that stem from obesity include, but are not limited to: heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, vascular disease, stroke, cancer, gallbladder stones, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and depression.
There is no magic pill or quick fix for obesity which is why 1/3 of the population struggles with it. Everyone knows the treatment, but people hate to diet and exercise. Many wait until they have a dreaded “wake up call”, a personal health scare or that of someone close to them before they take steps to deal with obesity. However, the best time is right now. The only way to manage obesity is to adapt to a lifestyle change. Unfortunately, some motivated people diet and exercise to reach their goal for a special event, but regain the weight again within 5 years. It is more than essential to make this a lifestyle change and stick to it, rather than a short-term challenge with a goal.
Many programs are now available, some are even covered by your medical insurance to help you eat properly and get appropriate exercise. There are lifestyle centers to aid with all aspects of weight loss, physical, diet, mental and medical. It is important to have a network of support around you and to take little steps toward a big goal. Small steps can drastically reduce the risk of permanent health problems. Start small and build on your progress. For example, use the steps for 1 flight of stairs at work or cut one soda from your day. Each week, increase that number. Then add other steps. Little sacrifices are often less drastic and not as unpleasant as quitting everything and exercising until you are too sore to move. When you work in this manner, you are more likely to achieve and more importantly, maintain your healthy weight goals.
Start the steps to a healthier lifestyle now!
Looking for new ways to stay motivated with your exercise program? Consider using Skype. Skype is a free program you can download by going to www.skype.com. It requires you to have a camera built into your computer. Once installed, it allows you to “call” someone (similar to calling them on the phone) and talk to them through your computer. You can also see them, and they can see you.
From an exercise perspective this allows you to workout with your exercise buddy without ever leaving home. Just set your computer up so that the camera catches you at a good workout angle. Then call your friend and start the workout.
There have been studies on the use of Skype to motivate exercise. The results were extremely positive. The use of this simple tool resulted in a 93% attendance rate for exercise (IDEA Fitness Journal, 2016 March). That's high!!
If motivation is a problem, consider using Skype with your exercise pal. It could be just what you need to stay focused!
The facts are in. The more time you spend sitting each day, the greater toll it takes on your body and your health. But what's a working woman to do? Most jobs require us to sit for long periods of time. Below are some tips to counter the negative effects of sitting:
We all know that exercise is important. Experts now recommend that you put in at least 30 minutes a day and mix it up with both aerobic and strength training. A great way to do this is by walking.
Why? Because most people can do it, very little equipment is needed (just shoes), and it can be done anywhere including your home. Walking is an excellent aerobic workout but with a few tweaks it can become a strength gem as well.
Here are ways to make your walk more beneficial:
Please note that I do not recommend you carry hand weights while walking. These tend to pull your posture out of alignment and can hurt your back muscles.
Fitness does not have to be expensive or elaborate. With just a few small tweaks, even a walk around the neighborhood can get that heart pumping and keep you healthy!
We are already one month into the new year and I am sure several of you have wavering New Year’s resolutions, especially about healthy eating and weight loss. If it was easy, it would not be such a frequent struggle or the most common resolution. I’m just as guilty, so I won’t stand on my soap box; rather, I will provide you with some suggestions to help make you more successful. It is not too late to try again.
When we think of occupational health hazards, an office job usually doesn't come to mind. It should. Sitting for long periods of time can wreak havoc on your body, especially if you are using a computer.
Let's look at the facts. When you sit for long periods of time your gluteals (rear end muscles) become weak because they're not being used. Meanwhile your hip flexor muscles (in the front where your leg meets your hip) get overly tight because they are kept in a shortened position for too long. Both of these translate into back pain.
As we move up the body we often find that people do not sit with good posture. Instead they hunch over their computer which tightens the chest muscles and curves the shoulders. It also pushes the neck forward which can lead to headaches. Finally, if the arm is not fully resting on the desk surface it can cause pain in the forearm and wrists.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to fight these issues. Your first line of defense is to sit at your desk with good posture. Move your computer closer and make sure you are sitting so the screen is at eye level. Consciously work to keep your shoulders and neck pulled back. Also try to keep both feet flat on the ground. instead of crossing your legs or ankles.
Next, be sure to get up and move around every single hour. If you have to set a timer on your computer to remind yourself to move, then do it. I like to get up and refill my water bottle which has the added benefit of keeping me hydrated. While you're up, do some light body movements such as swinging your arms and gently twisting from side-to-side. This will get your blood circulating. You can even take some deep breaths, which has a relaxing effect on the mind and body.
At least once a day it's also a good idea to do some stretching. You'll want to warm up beforehand so do the stretches after you have taken one of your hourly strolls. The following moves will target each area of your body that may have issues. Aim to hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds and be sure you're breathing throughout.
Hip Flexor Stretch (as seen in the photo below)
Stand next to a sturdy chair. Hold onto it with your right hand and step the left leg back about 2 feet. Then bend both knees and lower down until you feel a stretch in the left hip flexor. Repeat on the other side.
Stand with good posture and your feet directly below your hips. Keep your arms straight down at your sides and then slowly bring them behind your body. Try to clasp your hands behind your back if you can. If not, just keep them behind your body and feel the stretch in your chest.
Stand with good posture and your feet directly below your hips. Bring your right arm out in front of you so that it is level with your shoulder, palm facing up. Reach up with your left hand, grasp your right fingers and pull them down so that they point towards the floor. Keep your right arm still at shoulder level. Repeat on the other side.
Sit in a sturdy chair with both feet flat on the floor. Bring your right ankle up and rest it on your left thigh. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in your rear.
Sit in a sturdy chair and keep your feet flat on the floor. Twist your upper torso to the right while keeping your lower body straight. Hold. Then twist to the left.
Sit in a sturdy chair and keep your feet flat on the floor. Tilt your head down and to the right as if you are trying to touch your right ear to your right shoulder. Hold. Then tilt your head down to the left.
I get it. Really, I do. You're busy, and the last thing you want to think about is adding more exercise to your life.
But you know as well as I do that exercise can make a HUGE difference in your life. Studies have repeatedly found that adding even a small amount of movement to your day can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and other medical issues.
Hard to argue with that, isn't it?
So I've put together a list of ways that you can easily add more movement to your day. You've probably seen most of these before but it's always good to have a quick reminder! Please leave a comment if you have additional ideas.
I love Sundays. It's our day to unwind. We usually get up early and cook a big family breakfast. We try to keep it semi-healthy, but a little indulgence is okay too. This morning we had an old fashioned sausage bake with scrambled eggs, potatoes, turkey sausage, and lite cheese. So good!
Once breakfast is over it's time to hit the trails. That involves lacing up the hiking boots, slapping a harness on Scooby, and hitting the road. Today's hike took us over two rivers, down a winding trail, and through a bit of forest where the autumn leaves were blowing. By the time we got home we were all relaxed and in a fabulous mood.
I'm telling you this because hiking is a wonderful form of cardiovascular exercise. Your body has to make continuous postural adjustments on a typical hiking trail. You also tend to walk longer which keeps that heart pumping. Best of all, it's something you can do with the entire family. Smaller children and dogs usually love walking in the woods. Even teenagers can slap on their headphones and trek along while the adults chat to each other. Jim and I have had some of our best talks while walking in the woods.
Hiking can even take on a spiritual quality for some people. Paying attention to the birds singing, the squirrels playing, the wind, the sunlight reflected on a stream....all of these things can be quite magical in the right frame of mind. I personally find that reconnecting with nature on a weekly basis keeps me calm and grounded. It also tones my heart muscle and my legs!!
If you think you might want to try hiking, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
If you are looking for a fun cardiovascular activity to do with friends or family, hiking may be just the ticket. Happy trails!!!
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