Health 106: Weight Management

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In Western society, there is a lot of information about losing weight

  • Most of this information is either false, redundant or is selling a product that isn’t necessary for effective health
  • Every effective weight-loss trend, idea and product is based on the following concepts
    • Eat fewer calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates, etc. than you need for weight maintenance
    • Exercise more frequently to burn more calories than you need for weight maintenance
    • Distract your mind from eating via a conditioned response or food alternative
  • As tempting as it is to follow trends, the best approach is to learn the science of metabolism
    • Diet trends have a lot of money in them and tend to ignore some of the rules of metabolism
      • Excess body fat is often tied closely to self-image, which has created an industry comparable to the cosmetics industry
        • Though these diets can create results, the results often can only stay as long as the diet is maintained
      • The only diet that is worth your time is one that you can imagine yourself using for the rest of your life
    • Some long-standing values have been forgotten
      • Everyone’s body is different, so they all have different requirements
        • A 100 pound girl is not going to have the same health requirements as a 300 pound bodybuilder
        • 2,000 calories a day for diet depends highly on what is being consumed
      • Fat is a necessary and healthy part of the body
        • Contrary to the verbiage, eating fat will not make a person fat near as much as eating too many carbohydrates or proteins
      • Proteins are more necessary to the body than any carbohydrates
      • There is no link between cholesterol and heart disease, and eggs are part of a healthy diet
      • Traditional fats are much healthier than processed vegetable oils
      • Variety in diet is necessary for a full diet that has trace amounts of various fats and proteins
        • Foods like butter and meat have very hard-to-find nutrients in them that makes it challenging to replace
        • Shake diets and other artificially made programs can’t account for the small other items that are still needed
      • Moderation in consumption is more effective than following rules or eating special foods
      • Fruits and vegetables are absolutely necessary to “fill in” the mass that is being consumed
      • Regular exercise is necessary for proper food restraint and overall feelings of wellness
  • Applying any diet and exercise principles are about changing habits, which are naturally uncomfortable and frustrating
    • Though following a system of rules gets to the goal, it doesn’t do as much for self-discipline, which is necessary after the goal
    • A 21-day workout and diet regimen will help you lose weight, but it’s your own restraint that keeps it off afterwards
      • However, a yo-yo diet (fluctuating up and down quickly in weight) is overall more healthy than staying obese

The process of metabolism isn’t too hard to understand

  1. Food is digested via saliva, stomach acid and bile
    • Saliva starts the breakdown of the food
    • Stomach acid and microbes in the stomach break down the food
    • Bile and microbes in the intestines break down whatever couldn’t be digested in the stomach
    • The large intestine and colon take water out of the waste
  2. The different parts of the foods go to different places
    • All carbohydrates go into the blood stream as glucose
      • Simple carbohydrates like sugar are more quickly digested than complex carbohydrates like grains
        • The “time-release” of complex carbohydrates makes them better for sustained energy than simple carbohydrates
      • The faster the digestion, the faster the blood sugar levels spike and the harder a shock it can be on the body to produce insulin
        • Too many carbohydrates in the body over a long enough time will lead to an insulin production problem (diabetes)
    • Proteins are used to constantly rebuild the body
    • Fats are used for a variety of things including storing energy, doing things the body can’t do on its own, and maintaining body cells
  3. Anything extra is converted or gotten rid of
    • Extra glucose is either stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver until needed, converted into fat or disposed of through urine
    • Extra protein is either turned into energy to fuel the body or converted into fat
    • Extra fat is used for energy or converted into body fat

Weight management, fat management and health management are separate concepts

  • Weight management is about keeping weight down
    • This is medically the least useful to the body, since it doesn’t account for health or appearance
    • Many diets use this measurement system
    • It is easy to measure, but the results may vary wildly since muscle will be counted as worse than body fat
  • Fat management involves trying to get rid of excess body fat to improve appearance
    • This requires more work to measure (fat calipers instead of a scale) but is best for maintaining physical appearance
    • Since muscle weighs more than fat, this is better, but isn’t considering the overall impact on physical wellness
    • To have good-looking abs, you would need to lose nearly all your body fat
    • Learn to improve your posture to give the quickest appearance improvement
      • When standing, make sure you can’t see the back of your shoulder but don’t have your head behind your shoulders
      • To improve your posture, stand up straight with hands at sides, breathe out while forcing belly inward, hold 15-30 secs and repeat 10 times
    • On camera, wearing yellow makes you look bigger and wearing green makes you look smaller
  • Health management is about maintaining a proper healthy diet and exercise regimen
    • It is the least direct approach to maintaining physical appearance, but is the most long-lasting
    • The idea is more about maintaining or improving vitality and physical wellness than looking good

Anything you eat is technically a diet

  • There are some scientific requirements for being healthy
    • Exercising enough
    • Eating enough
    • Eating the right vitamins and minerals
    • Staying within a certain percentage of body fat
    • Staying hydrated enough
  • Many small mistakes can invalidate diet goals
    • Ignoring cravings
      • When a person craves something, often it’s the body’s natural system asking for it
        • It’s based on what is considered “normal” by a body
        • A detox can often “reset” the body from years of poor diet
        • Specific cravings are often desires for nutrients the body most needs at that moment
      • Most cravings can be resolved with a few tricks
        • Drink tons of water, especially before or instead of the item itself
        • Snack frequently and eat light meals
        • For eating before bed, brush your teeth instead
        • For late-night cravings, eat a spoon of peanut butter
    • Overeating
      • Eating when HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired
        • Ask yourself if you want an apple to figure out if you are actually hungry
        • Drink an enormous glass of water instead of eating
      • Eating too quickly
        • It takes about 15 mins for the body to recognize it’s full
        • Eating quickly also increases stress, decreases digestion and decreases the enjoyment that may come from it
      • Eating lunch at work
        • Exercise instead during lunch break to improve overall health
      • Giving yourself too much flexibility
        • Taking the weekends “off” can sometimes fully undo what was done during the week
        • Overeating at “special occasions”, which requires discipline and a long-term view to overcome
      • Overeating on workout days
      • Lack of awareness of healthy daily portions of the food groups
        • Dairy – 3 cups
        • Vegetables – 2-4 cups
        • Fruits – 1.5-2.5 cups
        • Grains – 5-10 oz
        • Meat, Beans, Nuts – 5-7 oz
        • Fats, Oils – 5-12 tsp
        • Use a smaller plate to help with portion control
    • Eating the wrong things
      • “Diet” foods and drinks – the chemicals in them slow metabolism
      • Taking weight-loss supplements – many of them promise unrealistic results
    • Eating at the wrong time
      • Don’t eat anything within 4 hours of bedtime, since everything will store straight to body fat
      • Alcohol before bedtime can bring calorie count up from a weight-loss level
    • Not eating the right things
      • Malnutrition from cutting back on junk food without replacing it
        • People eat less when they have all the nutrients they need
        • Add the following into your diet to lose weight
          • Fruits like bananas, berries, grapefruit and watermelon
          • Vegetables like celery, cucumbers and hot peppers
          • Grains like quinoa and oatmeal
          • Dairy and meats like eggs, fish and Greek yogurt
          • Drinks like green tea, oolong tea and coffee
          • Drink lemon juice with a pinch of salt in it every morning
          • Eat a small amount of chocolate in the morning
      • Cutting fat out of the diet
        • The body needs fat, and will naturally eat two 1/2-the-calories food items to get it
      • Not staying hydrated
        • The body needs water, even if it’s from unhealthy food
        • Drinking 2 cups of water before meals will make you lose more weight
      • Skipping meals
        • Starvation does willpower no favors
        • Eating breakfast in the morning makes it 10 times easier to burn calories throughout the day
      • Food guilt from eating some foods
        • Think deeply on it instead of reacting to it, since it’s a silly belief
        • Most food guilt is from social pressure to be at a non-verbalized ideal
    • Focusing on  the wrong things
      • Looking at total calories consumed
        • Many natural foods are low-calorie and are usually more satisfying and more healthy
      • Looking at everything but personal health
        • Weight gain usually comes from a lack of consideration of personal health habits
      • Looking at setbacks
        • Failing is natural, it’s the trying again that’s important
      • Trying to lose weight too fast
        • It’s a permanent lifestyle decision, not a race
      • Trying to out-exercise a bad diet
        • It is mathematically impossible to lose weight through exercise alone
      • Weighing yourself too often
        • Your body will naturally fluctuate up and down by a few pounds every day
        • Measure your weight about once a week at the same time each day
    • Not being determined enough
      • Not planning meals – without a weekly plan and a kitchen well-stocked with healthy items weight management is impossible
        • Don’t make dining out a routine, since some restaurant salads and sandwiches are actually less healthy than burgers and fries
          • When you do eat out, get smaller portions
            • Starbucks offers a Short size
            • Consider children’s meals
            • Dedicate yourself to only eating one of the items in the meal and taking the other to go in a box
        • Never let your baking skills out-pace your cooking skills or it will be harder to exercise restraint
      • Insufficient or irregular sleep
        • This causes extra stress and can ruin weight management
      • Ineffective stress management techniques – can lead to extra fat storage
      • Lack of a creative outlet – a lot of eating comes from boredom
      • Lack of physical fitness – exercise is a type of detox that is necessary for the body to be healthy
      • Avoiding weight-lifting – muscle cells require three times as many calories to maintain as fat cells

Exercise doesn’t have to be painful or negative

  1. Before working out
    • Schedule HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) throughout your day
      • Exercise for 1-2 minutes and then go back to whatever you were doing
    • Consider working out before bed to burn calories while you sleep
    • Watch out for exercise trends that mislead
      • Most of the more extreme exercise trends don’t take into account that everyone is coming from a different physical starting point
        • Don’t overwork yourself, since your goals should have you coming back on a regular basis
      • Though focusing on muscle groups is silly for changing physical appearance, it’s still beneficial to focus on certain parts of the body
        • Jump squats and climbing stairs are great for having stronger butt muscles
        • Work out pectoral muscles to increase breast size and perkiness
      • Gatorade or Powerade are great, but only during a workout and only when watered down with water
    • Right before your workout
      • Increase your metabolism
        • Drink a cup of coffee
        • Eat spicy foods
        • Drink a mixture of honey and water
      • Don’t eat too much or too soon before you workout, especially high fat foods
      • Eat onions and garlic to strengthen yourself
      • Limit stretching before you workout, though limbering up is fine
      • If your thighs keep rubbing from wearing shorts, rub deodorant between them
      • Put on music to run and lift more quickly
  2. Find easy workout repetitions you can do
    • While sitting
      • Shoulder circles – spin the shoulders in a windmill, use a weight to add resistance
      • Leg lifts – lift your leg and hold it
    • With a flat surface and some room
      • Jumping jacks
      • Squats – keep the back straight and hold your balance
        • Jump squats – jump once reaching the lowest point
        • One leg squats – put your hands directly in front of you and try to squat with one leg
        • Wallsit – squat against a wall for several minutes, use one leg for extra resistance
      • Lunges – take a large step with one foot while your hands are on your hips
      • Lift a textbook or other heavy object behind your head
    • On the floor
      • Crunches – lay on your back with your knees bent and contract your abs
        • There are many variations to this
          • Situps – sit up all the way
          • Crossed-leg crunches – lift one leg up over the other
          • Glute bridges – lift your butt off the ground from this position
        • If you get a neck cramp, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth
      • Military pushups – hold your back completely straight and lower to the ground
        • Diamond pushups – have your hands touch
        • Bench pushups – spread your arms further out
        • Mountain climbers – alternate bringing legs up to hands
        • Oblique pushup – turn your hips sideways to tone your whole body
        • Planks – hold body rigidly up off of the ground by balancing on hands and feet
        • Spiderman pushup – tap the elbow to the knee every time coming up
      • Handstand pushups – find a wall if handstands aren’t possible
      • Divebombers – Start with body completely stiff and butt in the air, lower to the ground, then push chest up, the back to chest and back to start
      • Burpees – squat, then shoot feet out into pushup position, do a pushup, then back to squatting and jump as high as possible
      • Leg raises – kneel down with palms on the ground, lift your leg backward and hold
    • In a hallway
      • Army crawls – slide legs across the ground and stay low
      • Bear crawls – walk on all fours
      • Sprints – run as fast as you can back and forth
    • With a chair or elevated surface
      • Box jumps – jump on and off of an elevated surface
      • Calf raises – use a slight ledge and extend calf muscles
      • Decline pushups – pushups against a desk or chair
        • Chair dips – turn around and bend your elbows
        • Shrugs – lift with your shoulders
    • With something that can hold your weight
      • Pullups – grab onto something and pull yourself up
      • Table rows – lay under a table and pull up while keeping back straight
    • Jumping rope works out many muscles at the same time, and 15-20 minutes will give you an unparalleled total body workout
    • Many things are exercise, so something is fun for you even if you hate conventional workouts
      • Official exercising – aerobics, gymnastics, jogging, running, treadmill, walking, weight lifting
      • Dancing – ballet, salsa, swing, tango, tap dancing, twerking, waltz
      • Team sports – baseball, basketball, field hockey, football, hockey, soccer, softball, tennis, volleyball
      • Individual sports – boxing, golf, wrestling, martial arts, laser tag, paintball, ping-pong
      • Individual recreation – bowling, frisbee, trampolining, playing catch
      • Alternate transportation – bicycling, ice skating, swimming, horseback riding, roller blading/skating, skateboarding, unicycling
      • Outdoor recreation – boating, canoeing, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding
      • Performing – drums, juggling
      • Games – Dance Dance Revolution, Double Dutch, hopscotch, hula hooping, Kinect games, jump rope, Wii games
    • A simple walk has many benefits without as many risks as many other activities
    • Many people don’t run because they get pain from it
      • For good running form, try to run as quietly as possible
      • If you get cramps, exhale on alternate feet or when your left foot hits the ground
      • If you have foot pain, skip tying your shoes across the second level
  3. After every workout
    • If you need to catch your breath
      • Stand on toes with head tilted far back and inhale deeply
    • Stretch thoroughly
      • Stretching after a workout is best, since before the workout runs the risk of stiff muscles being overworked
      • By stretching, it expands the range of tendons, ligaments and muscles, which reduces risk of injury in the long-term
      • A few key muscles are more likely to cause problems if they aren’t stretched
        • The quadratus lumborum runs along the sides of the lower back
          • Lay with your back on the floor and twist your hips to where your opposite knee is touching the ground
        • The hamstring is on the back of the knee
          • Place your heel on an elevated surface and bend down to grab your elevated toes
          • Lean forward on something while keeping your feet flat on the ground
    • Replenish the body’s resources to heal quickly
      • Eat nutrient-rich foods after workouts that give the feeling of fullness such as protein, fats and high-fiber foods
      • Drink chocolate milk
      • Drink fruit juice or eat fruits high in antioxidants
        • Cherries
        • Cranberries
        • Pomegranates
        • Watermelons
      • Drunk peppermint tea
    • Keep an eye out for muscle soreness
      • Rub aloe vera plant sap on the muscles
      • Take a muscle-relieving bath by mixing 1/2 cup Epsom salt into a warm bathtub
      • Soak your feet
        1. Combine 1/2 Epsom salt and 1 cup lemon juice in a small tub of warm water
        2. Dissolve and soak feet for 30-45 mins

There are many tricks to make weight management easier

  • Drink tons of water throughout the day
  • Be on constant lookout for healthier alternatives and improvements to your cooking choices
  • Pay more attention to what you eat
    • Draw physical lines before you eat about how far you will consume
    • Learn more about the nutritional content of your food in relationship to other foods
  • Always finish and save some food for later
  • Making eating, or at least snacking healthily, a priority and always have something ready
  • Make your house a better place to eat
    • Place out a fruit basket to make the food easier to see
    • Put away sweets or make sure they’re never purchased for the home
    • Don’t do anything else while eating; set aside specific time where you do nothing else but eat and maybe converse
    • Use smaller plates for serving food
    • Install mirrors in your eating area to be more self-aware
  • Find ways to exercise more
    • Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator
    • Go for walks in the evenings
    • Sign up for a fitness club or join a friend’s physical activities
  • Learn to become a happier and more fulfilled person
    • Dieting and exercise are only small parts of what life is about
    • Health is just as much connected to mental wellness as it is to physical diet
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