I have several New Year’s resolutions but, by far, the most important is losing weight and getting back in shape. I’ve chosen this week as my starting point. Healthy Weight Week (Jan. 15-21) started Sunday, and I’ve been planning my weekly menus and working out several times a day in preparation. I have several health problems that don’t allow brisk, hard workouts so I’m adjusting my schedule to get as much physical activity as I can in a day. I hope to gradually increase my endurance and performance. You may also need to do this. Talk with your doctor and see what he or she recommends.
Now is definitely the time to work on a healthier lifestyle that can become part of your daily routine and will prevent weight problems. Everyone should learn to eat well, live actively and feel good about themselves rather than jumping from diet to diet and living on “tomorrow’s promises.”
The Centers for Disease Control, public health departments and professional health-care workers want to do everything they can to improve your health. They remain highly alarmed about the United States’ “obesity epidemic.” Caused by consuming too many calories while participating in too little physical activity, obesity leads to several serious and sometimes fatal diseases.
Maintaining a healthy weight can increase life expectancy, quality of life and physical and mental well being. As an individual, you can maintain a healthy weight by eating the recommended number of calories each day and getting regular exercise. Communities and schools can promote good health by establishing safe areas for children to play, ensuring that school lunches are healthy and encouraging physical activity.
If you are overweight, losing as little as 5 percent of your body weight may lower your risk for several diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. If you weigh 200 pounds, this means losing 10 pounds. Slow and steady weight loss of one or two pounds per week — and not more than three pounds per week — is the safest way to lose weight.
To lose weight and keep it off over time, try to make long-term changes in your eating and physical-activity habits. Choose healthy foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat meat and dairy products. Eat more often and eat just enough food to satisfy yourself. Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity — like walking — on most days, preferably every day. To lose weight or to maintain weight loss, you may need to do more than 30 minutes of moderate activity daily.
People with unchecked obesity are at risk of developing one or more serious medical conditions, which can result in poor health and premature death. An estimated 300,000 deaths per year may be attributable to obesity.
The risk of death rises with increasing weight. Individuals who are obese (body mass index over 30) have a 50-100 percent increased risk of premature death from all causes, compared with individuals who are at a healthy weight. Obesity is associated with more than 30 medical conditions, and scientific evidence has established a strong relationship with at least 15 of them.
Weight loss of about 10 percent of body weight for people who are overweight or obese can improve some obesity-related medical conditions including diabetes and hypertension.
Weighing too much may increase your risk for developing many health problems, such as impaired immune response, impaired respiratory function, infertility, low joint and back pain, obstetric and gynecologic complications, birth defects, gout, pancreatitis, urinary stress incontinence, abdominal hernias, endocrine abnormalities, depression, gastroesophageal reflux, heel spurs, lower extremity edema, skin damage, cervical pain, musculoskeletal disease, prostate cancer and hiatial hernia.
Join me in becoming a healthier, slimmer American. I’ll share any tips and recipes I’ve come across in an upcoming article and you can call me to share your finds.
Ratcliffe is a consultant to the Coastal Health District. You can call her at 876-6399.