So I want to start off saying I think everyone should feel comfortable in their own skin. I think you should own your body and completely agree with the sentiment of loving yourself for who you are. But on the other hand there are a lot of health benefits to maintaining a physically fit lifestyle and a healthy body weight. You have less cardiovascular issues, lower rates of diabetes, live longer, and live years with a higher quality of life. So today I want to talk about how a healthy body weight can be achieved and most importantly maintained.
Sex and body image are inevitably linked. If you feel uncomfortable about how you look, it becomes more difficult to engage in sexual activity because most sexual activity revolves around being naked. So today we will look at some ways you can lose some weight if you are interested (again I think everyone should feel comfortable with themselves, but losing weight can add to self esteem as well).
When first discussing weight, I think it is important to talk about fad diets. Now it is possible to lose 10 pounds in a week if all you drink is cranberry juice, but what happens after that week? You do not maintain that diet. No one is going to live off of cranberry juice for the rest of their life. And that is the main problem with a lot of fad diets. There is no maintenance and that is the main issue with them. If you look at people who maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is not just for a week or for a month, it is for a lifetime. They have days where it is not important to them and they are lazy or eat poorly, but 90% of the time they live healthy. And that is the first thing you need to realize when wanting to achieve a specific body weight, it is for life. It is not lose 10 pounds and then forget about it. It is about a personal philosophy of health.
So what I think is important is to realize weight is a life long goal, that it needs to be a lifestyle. It needs to be a part of you. It needs to be how you act. It needs to just always be there. Otherwise you are not going to continue that healthy trend. And that is the main message I want this article to convey. Health is not a quick fix. It is a lifestyle.
So today I am going to talk about the two most important things when trying to achieve a healthy weight: diet and exercise (and when I say diet, I mean what you eat, not going on a diet).
Exercise is an integral part of maintaining a healthy weight for a variety of reasons. First, the more muscle you have the more calories you burn and the thinner you stay. Now when I say muscle I don’t mean Mr. Universe. When you work out you can increase muscle density without increasing size. I know a lot of women I know are concerned about bulking up too much. But it is easy to put on muscle without actually getting bigger. You just get more toned and harder. And you will retain your feminine shape. Exercises good for this are longer exercises and low weight and high reps. So running, swimming, biking, and low weights but done many times. All of these are good for increasing muscle density without size.
Exercise also burns calories. When you exercise it takes energy. And that energy will come from your fat stores eventually. I want to clarify something, no matter what exercise you do you will burn fat from all over your body. You cannot target a specific region. That is simply not how you burn calories. So if you want to trim down belly fat you can lift weights with your arms, you can run, you can swim. You DO NOT just need to do abdominal exercises.
Diet is huge when it comes to weight. What you eat determines how many calories are coming in. But diet is not about calorie counting. Often times calorie counters do not lose weight. The body can adapt and use fewer calories (Another reason why exercise is important is that it raises your caloric demand back up). Diet is about a lifestyle and choosing to consistently eat good foods. The majority of the foods you eat should be vegetables, then fruit, then grains, then milk and alternatives, then finally meat. Look at your food guide. It will give you good ideas. Foods high in fiber are good because they increase that feeling of fullness. They provide nutrients your body needs. A healthy diet just does so much.
Finally I want to talk about the speed you make changes. You are not going to change overnight. It simply won't work. Take small steps or you are setting yourself up for failure. Understand weight comes off as slow as it went on. That’s about 1 pound a week. If you want to lose 50 pounds that is going to take a year. Be realistic about this. You are not going to be able to eat massive amounts of fiber overnight. You will get gas and pain and bloating. So small changes. These will eventually add up. An increase in exercise of 100 calories a day leads to a total of 36,500 calories in a year. That’s 4 pounds of pure fat you could lose with a small change. That really adds up over years.
So the point I want to make is throw out the idea of a diet. Throw out the idea of a quick fix. Any health care professional will tell you those don’t exist and what you really need is a long, slow, rebuilding of your lifestyle. And we all want an easy fix, but it simply isn’t possible.
As always feel free to ask any questions. Also I am a pharmacist so my knowledge comes from being a health care professional and interacting with other health care professionals.