Don Thompson, the CEO of McDonald's, recently reported he lost 20 pounds in the past year by returning to a regular exercise regime. At the same time he hasn't stopped eating McDonald's food every single day. Fast food companies are criticized for being the driving force behind obesity rates. Although McDonald's has introduced healthier options to their menu including chicken wraps, salads, and egg white breakfast sandwiches, salads make up just two to three percent of their sales. Given the rates of obesity in this country (one third of adult Americans are obese), limiting intake of high calorie fast foods is surely worthy of consideration.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (htpp://wwwcdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/) reports on research showing that as weight increases to "overweight" and "obesity" levels, the risks for the following conditions also increases:
- Coronary heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
- Liver and gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
- Osteoarthritis (degenernation of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
- Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)
In a special supplement to the MAYO CLINIC HEALTH LETTER (July, 2013) an article on achieving a healthy weight stresses how health risks are greater if a person is physically inactive and unfit. This is compounded by the fact that weight-related health problems increase as one gets older. Being motivated to eat healthfully and engage in physical activity are the building blocks of a healthy life style. Healthy eating can include delicious meals that allows you to eat your favorite foods--at least some of the time--while also including optimum nutrition. The Mayo Clinic emphasizes at least 4 servings of vegetables a day (unlimited); at least 3 servings of fruits a day (unlimited); 4 to 8 servings of carbohydrates a day (whole grains); 3 to 7 protein/dairy servings a day; 3 to 5 servings of fat a day; and up to 75 calories of sweets a day.
Healthy cooking is important such as baking, grilling, broiling, steaming and sauteing. Flavor with herbs, spices and low-fat condiments instead of butter and salt. Use nonstick cookware or vegetable cooking sprays instead of oil or butter. Replacing half of the fat in baked goods with applesauce and reducing sugar by one-half does not affect texture or taste. Choose lean meat and fish and try going meatless a few times a week. Eat at restaurants that offer healthy options. If you know you'll be consuming more calories when eating out, increase your physcial activity that day and limit appetizers, bread, side dishes or high-calorie beverages. Weight loss of about 1 or 2 pounds a week is considered a healthy goal for most people. Keeping a daily food record can be helpful.
It's never too late begin an exercise program regardless of age, weight, fitness level and health condition. If you've been leading a sedentary life or have health concerns, consult with your doctor to find a safe way to increase the amount of physical activity. For best results, exercise every day for at least 30 to 60 minutes applying a moderate degree of intensity. If you eat 250 fewer calories a day and burn an extra 250 through physical activity, you'll lose one pound a week. If you eat 500 less and burn 500 more, you'll lose 2 pounds a week. Including three types of exercise helps prevent monotony and will help keep you motivated.
- Aerobic exercise increases breathing and heart rates and helps you use oxygen more efficiently. This improves cardiovascular endurance for doing chores or climbing stairs without becoming short of breath. The advantage of aerobic exercise for weight loss is that if the intensity is low enough you can do it for a long time, and thus burn a lot of calories. In the beginning increase your activity level gradually. Eventually, engage in aerobics most days of the week for at least 30 minutes.
- Strength training with weights or resistance bands builds stronger muscles which stabilize and protect your joints and make daily activities easier. Strength training reduces body fat and increases lean muscle mass which improves your body' capacity to burn calories since muscle burns more calories thant fat.
- Stretching can improve your flexibility and reduce stiffness, as well as improving circulation, better posture, stress relief and relaxation. It also enhances coordination and balance and reduces risk of injury. Just 5 to 10 minutes of gentle stretching after aerobic activities can be of benefit.
Maintaining an exercise program is one of the best predictors of long-term weight control. This involves your degree of motivation. Ask yourself: Why do I want to lose weight? What will help me stay on course in following a healthy eating program and exercising that will help me reach my goals?