Health 106: Getting To The Right Weight

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In the West, 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
  • 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 sense of restraint that keeps it off afterwards

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
    • 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
  • 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 requrements for being healthy
    • Exercising enough
    • Eating enough
    • Eating the right vitamins and minerals
      • If you look at specific cravings (cheeseburger, ice cream, etc.) those are often things the body most needs at that moment
    • Within a certain percentage of body fat
    • Staying hydrated enough
  • There is a lot of money in diet trends
    • 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
    • Some long-standing values have been forgotten in the interest of profit:
      • Everyone’s body is different, so they all have different requirements
        • A 100 pound girl is not going to have precisely 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
    • The only diet that is worth your time is one that you can imagine yourself using for the rest of your life
  • When a person craves something, often it’s the body’s natural system asking for it
    • This isn’t necessarily a good thing, since it’s based on what is considered normal by the body
      • A detox can often “reset” the body from years of poor diet
    • There is a lot of “food guilt” that comes from eating some foods, and that requires more deep thought than reaction to it
      • Most food guilt is from social pressure to be at a non-verbalized ideal
      • This ideal is silly if you think deeply on it, since everyone is uniquely different
    • Often, the simple trick of snacking frequently and eating light meals is enough to counter impulses to overeat
  • There are a lot of smaller mistakes that can invalidate your diet goals
    • Overeating
      • Eating when HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired
      • Eating lunch at work – exercise instead during lunch break will improve overall health
      • Alcohol before bedtime – can bring calorie count up from a weight-loss level
      • Overeating on workout days – eat nutrient-rich foods that give the feeling of fullness such as protein, fats and high-fiber foods
      • Taking the weekends “off” – sometimes can fully undo what was done during the week
    • Eating the wrong things
      • Disproportionate portions – learn how much you need daily of the 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
      • Cutting fat out of the diet – the body needs fat, and will naturally eat two 1/2-the-calories food items to get it
      • “Diet” foods and drinks – the chemicals in them slow metabolism
      • Taking weight-loss supplements – many of them promise unrealistic results
    • Not eating the right things
      • Malnutrition through junk food – people eat less when they have all the nutrients they need
      • Not staying hydrated – the body needs water, even if it’s from garbage food
    • Looking at it the wrong way
      • Focusing on total calories consumed – many natural foods are low-calorie and are usually more satisfying and more healthy
      • Focusing on everything but personal health – weight gain usually comes from a lack of consideration of personal health habits
      • Focusing on setbacks – failing is natural, it’s the trying again that’s important
      • Skipping meals – starvation does willpower no favors
      • 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
    • Not being proactive enough
      • Not planning meals – without a weekly plan and a kitchen well-stocked with healthy items weight management is impossible
      • Insufficient or irregular sleep – this causes extra stress
      • 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 a bad word

  • There are many benefits of simply walking without as many risks as other activities like running or tennis
  • Try HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) throughout your day, where you exercise for 1-2 minutes and then go back to whatever you were doing
  • Most of the more extreme exercise trends don’t take into account that everyone is coming from a different physical starting point
  • There are a variety of exercises that are extremely fun
    • Kayaking
    • Swimming
    • Hiking
    • Dancing
    • Rock Climbing
    • Trampoline Jumping
    • Martial Arts
    • Playing Drums

There are a lot of tricks to make the changes easier

  • Drink tons of water throughout the day
  • Be on constant lookout for healthier alternatives
    • Infused water instead of fruit juice
    • Tea or coffee instead of soda
    • Quinoa instead of rice
    • Fish instead of beef
    • Make sandwiches open-faced
    • Substitute other condiments for mayonnaise or ketchup
    • Coconut, hemp or soy milk instead of cow’s milk
  • 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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