Sunday, September 25, 2005

World Heart Day Advances Weight Loss, Exercise To Reduce Obesity-Related Health Problems

Did you know that today, September 25, 2005, has been deemed by the World Heart Federation to be World Heart Day? There hasn't been much publicity about this day dedicated to a crisis that has been ignored at worst or mismanaged at best.

With obesity now a global problem that every nation in the world is having to deal with, the theme of "Healthy Weight, Healthy Shape" is being promoted to underline the severity of the obesity epidemic and to encourage people to "start a lifestyle change" to get their weight under control and to improve their health because of the dangers associated with cardiovascular disease.

There are some good and some not-so-good changes being proposed by the World Heart Federation for people to implement into their lives. Nevertheless, the effort is certainly worth highlighting because it at least gets people focused on taking action about their weight problem to prevent future health problems because of heart disease.

I am very pleased that they are recommending regular exercise, restricting sugar and salt intake, encouraging breakfast consumption, avoiding sweets and junk food, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, staying away from fried foods, drinking plenty of water, surrounding yourself with people who will support you, and being prepared for temptation. This is all excellent advice that I often share with others about why I have been so successful at losing weight and keeping it off.


It should not be surprising to anyone that they are also recommending lowering your caloric intake, eating a "balanced diet," avoiding "fad diets" that "offer unrealistic results and encourage eating (or not eating) specific foods" (a subtle derogatory reference to livin' la vida low-carb), losing weight gradually, and eating low-fat or fat-free products as well as lean meats. While these suggestions may sound good and we've heard them for most of our lives, they have been found to be totally unnecessary for some people who are trying to permanently control and maintain their weight, especially those of us who are on a low-carb lifestyle.

It has been determined that extra weight, especially in the abdomen are, significantly increases your risk of heart disease and stroke as well as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. But livin' la vida low-carb can help with all of these conditions and allow you to take your life back.

One excellent measuring stick for seeing how well you are doing to get these risk factors under control is not necessarily in your total weight, but rather in the size of your waist. Men who have a waist size of 40 inches or more and women who have a waist size of 35 inches or more are at a greater risk for heart problems.

The World Health Report 2003 found that 29 percent of deaths worldwide are as a result of cardiovascular disease and they link that to people who are overweight or obese. Just a minor loss of weight can pay big dividends in reducing your chances of getting heart disease.

A mere 10 percent weight loss (which is only 25 pounds for someone who is 250 pounds or 35 pounds for someone who is 350 pounds) may be all that is needed to lower your blood pressure, drop your LDL "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides, raise your HDL "good" cholesterol, and help you feel better than you ever have in your entire life. Too often people look at trying to lose a massive amount of weight all at once and it can indeed be overwhelming. Don't do that to yourself!

Do you know what I did? I started off my weight loss efforts by saying I wanted to lose 30 pounds. Then I did it. Great job, way to go! Then I challenged myself to lose another 30 pounds and did it again. You go boy, keep it up! From there on out, I celebrated every time I lost 10 more pounds and 10 more pounds until I hit that golden weight of 230 pounds after one year. WOW, WHAT A FEELING! But I never looked at it as HAVING to lose 180 pounds. Instead, I took it in much smaller increments which kept me focused on a lot of little goals along the way to bring me ultimately to my BIG one.

By the way, my weight has started to go down again in recent weeks. I currently weigh 227 pounds and my body fat percentage has dipped from 29 percent right after I lost 180 pounds in January down to 24 percent as of September (My body fat percentage WAS 54 percent when I weighed 410 pounds before starting my low-carb lifestyle!). All those strength building exercises have increased my muscle mass while helping me lose more fat although the scale has not shown any significant changes. Plus, I still have 10-15 pounds of excess skin hanging from my belly area and waiting on Oprah or Maury to call. :-) They both have requested my weight loss story and pictures, but I have not heard from the producers of either show yet. We'll keep hoping and dreaming, right?

The concept of World Heart Day is fantastic. People really need to put the problem of obesity on their radar screen. This condition is not an inevitable part of our lives if each individual stands up on behalf of themselves and their family and commits to doing something about it in their own sphere of influence. If you need to lose weight, then do it and be an example for others to follow. If a family member needs to lose weight, then muster up the courage and loving support it is going to take to help them deal with their problem. We need to stop making excuses for why we are overweight and deal with our weight head-on.

This isn't about who's right regarding calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Instead, this is something we all must face one-by-one, one day at a time, taking one step forward towards eradicating obesity. We can do this is if and when the misinformation that is spread about healthy weight loss and lifestyle change options is stopped. Only with the acceptance that there are multiple answers to the obesity problem can a lasting solution be implemented to bring about a significant change.

Let World Heart Day be the day when this all begins!


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