By: Red Hot Mamas
Published: June 2, 2010
The holidays have come and gone. The grandchildren left but a few extra pounds are sticking around longer than expected. This season was a generous one for you. Everyone received a gift…including your waistline! If you’re like me, your tree was beautifully trimmed but your calories were not. On average, most of us will gain seven pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year.
Even a few extra pounds can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, back pain, joint problems, certain kinds of cancer and other illnesses. Dropping a few pounds can also lessen the symptoms of menopause.
Who doesn’t want to increase their energy level, lower cholesterol, improve mobility, sleep better and reduce aches and pains? Did you know that more than 300,000 lives could be saved each year if everyone in the United States maintained a healthy weight?
It’s January now and time to stop blaming the turkey for your weight gain. We’re already past “avoiding the extra holiday pounds”. They’re already in attendance. The scale does not lie. But there’s more to the story.
Know Your Numbers
How do you know if you’re overweight? A few basic principles can answer this question. How much damage did you actually do during the holidays? Quite often, your scale weight may not be the most accurate indicator of your ideal weight. The following numbers are the key to assessing your body:
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Pursuing Your Ideal Weight
We can be hard on ourselves. Our “ideal weight” may not necessarily mean you have the “ideal body”.
Doctors base your “ideal weight” on a series of measurements including Body Mass Index (BMI), Waist Circumference and Waist-to-hip Ratio. Your weight loss goals should include these numbers:
- BMI <25
- Waist Circumference <35 in.
- WHR 0.8 and lower
This number represents what experts call your “ideal weight”. It measures body fat and is calculated from your height and weight. For a handy BMI calculator, use the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s. You are considered overweight if your BMI is between 25 and 29.9. If your BMI is over 30, you have a lot of work to do because you are considered obese.
Are you an apple or a pear? According to experts, the amount of body fat around your middle area can mean you are at more risk for many diseases associated with being overweight (especially heart disease and diabetes). Wrap a tape measure around you at the belly button. If it measures greater than 35 inches (for women), you are an apple and probably at a higher risk for disease. Your goal should be to have a waist less than 31.5 inches if you are a woman.
Waist-to-hip Ratio (WHR)
WHR measures fat distribution. It is the proportion of fat stored on your body around your waist and hip. People with more fat around their waist are at a higher risk than people who carry more weight around their hips. Use a tape measure to determine your waist circumference, then hip circumference. Use these numbers to calculate your WHR here. A healthy range for waist to hip ratio is 0.8 or lower for women.
Want to Lose Weight?
Now that you know your numbers and your goals, you can move on to the second step of weight loss. Concentrate now on lightening the load and shedding the unwanted pounds. Losing weight involves burning more calories than you consume.
Balancing calories, nutrition and exercise should be your primary goals. Surprised? It’s not ground breaking news but not an easy thing to do. In order to lose weight the “healthy way”, you need to be aware of a few fundamental basics.
- Reduce calories (but maintain a balance of essential nutrients)
- Increase physical activity and exercise
- Keep the weight off
It’s time to drop the diet and concentrate on lifestyle changes to lose weight. Changes should be slow and steadfast but will eventually lead to a lifetime of better health. Reducing calories is important but dieting alone is not a healthy way to lose weight. You need to exercise too.
A good rule of thumb to keep in mind: a pound of fat corresponds to about 3500 calories of stored energy. This means you have to use 3500 more calories than you consume in order to lose one pound of fat. You shouldn’t try to expend this amount of calories in one day though. It’s more practical to spread it out over a week. It’s not healthy or realistic to lose more than two pounds in a week.
Before you begin any diet or exercise program, you need to thoroughly discuss it with your healthcare provider. It would help to bring in your current “numbers” along with your target “numbers”. Then, you can personalize a plan that fits your lifestyle and goals. Your healthcare provider can help you calculate the number of calories your body requires, how much you need to cut back and the amount you need to exercise.
You can do it! Take care of yourself, eat healthier and exercise more in 2007. Your body will thank you. Look for tips in our upcoming newsletters. In the meantime, here are some articles you may find useful:
Move Your Body; Avoid a Swelly Belly!