Many people are a lot closer to being medically obese that they care to admit. There is a misconception that you have to be 100 lbs or more overweight to be considered obese. The reality is that you can be obese and at risk for all the health problems associated with obesity with only 40 pounds excess weight. Where do you fit? Are you overweight or obese? Read on . . .
Obesity is determined by your BMI (Body Mass Index), which is the measure of body fat based on height and weight. This measurement is not infallible, but it gives a fairly accurate measure of your body’s fat composition. For adults 20 years plus, BMI is interpreted using standard weight status categories. The categories are the same for men and women of all body types and ages.
Then, take a look at this BMI Chart (which corresponds with the weight categories shown):
BMI Health Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal
25.0-29.9 Over weight
30.0 and Above Obese
According to this chart a 5 foot 5 inch woman who is 140 lbs is within a normal BMI range, with a BMI of 23.3. So, how much weight does she have to gain to be 30.0 or above? Surprisingly, only 40 lbs! At 180 lbs, the 5’ 5” female, will have a calculated BMI of 30.0. That is very disturbing when you think about it. How many women do you know who are carrying 40+ extra pounds? I know quite a few (men as well).
There are different levels of obesity. When a woman has a BMI of 40 or greater, she is classified morbidly obese, which affects 1 in 20 people. Morbid obesity is rapidly overtaking smoking as the second leading cause of preventable death.
Our 5’5” woman would have to gain almost 100 lbs to be morbidly obese; but, she will be in danger of many illnesses associated with obesity such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke long before she reaches that point.
By the time a woman gets to the level of morbid obesity, it is very likely that she already has one or more serious health conditions. Unfortunately, without drastic intervention most morbidly obese people do not lose weight and keep it off.
I am not saying that it is impossible; but, statistically, it is unlikely. Sadly, when people prove the statistics to be valid and remain morbidly obese, they cannot live a long and happy life. They usually die younger than they should from a whole range of painful and deadly diseases.
Surgery is an alternative and for some may be the answer, though a dangerous one. The truth is you that it is not the only alternative.
While statistics show the obese person as unlikely to lose weight and keep it off, it is possiblestick to a diet that meets nutritional needs, caloric needs, and adequate mobility so that the individual has a real chance for a long, healthy life.
With discipline and absolute commitment to a whole foods healthy diet (rich in veggies and fruits, low in processed GMO (genetically modified organisms), elimination of refined sugar and white flour, and low in processed/fast foods) it is possible to experience a slow and healthy weight loss, plus improved health.
However, it is not just the diet that has to be changed – it has to be an entire lifestyle change. Weight loss is not a race or quick fix in spite of the diet industry and reality TV’s portrayal of weight loss. The most effective way to permanent weight loss is through a lifetime change in what and how you eat, plus exercise and plenty of rest.
Even if you do resort to surgery, you will still have to make a huge change in what you eat. Making those same changes without surgery would bring about the same result – it would just take a little longer and be much safer.
If you are in the overweight category and have not yet reached the extreme danger zone of obesity, you may want to change your lifestyle now, to prevent the problem from escalating.
BMI (Body Mass Index)is a calculation based on height and weight that is used to determine a person’s health risks due to the amount of body fat they are carrying. It is a preferred first step used by doctors because it is non-invasive and costs nothing. Based on BMI, a doctor can make decisions on whether or not to do more tests.
There are a few situations for which BMI is not a good indicator of overall health. For example: Body builders may have a high BMI but not actually be overweight or carrying excess fat. They just have higher muscle mass than the average person. But, generally speaking, BMI is a good measurement for determining general good health (or the lack thereof.)
BMI is very easy to calculate. Fill in the blanks for the formula:
(Weight pounds / Height inches²) 703
Translation: Weight in pounds, divided by height in inches squared, times 703.
An example for a 160 lbs, 5 foot 9 inch tall person:
(160/4761) = 0.0336063 x 703 = 23.62 (round up to 24)
According to the chart below, this person is at the high end of the normal weight range, and should be watching his/her weight.
BMI Health Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal
25.0 – 29.9 Overweight
30.0 and above Obese
This chart applies to all adults, both men and women – 20 years old or older. This creates a slight discrepancy because men typically have more muscle than women and women carry more fat than men. But, it is a good start to determine if your weight is within a healthy range, or not.
If you really dislike math, there are BMI calculators online that you can use. One that I recommend is offered by the NIH ( National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute), click here: BMI Calculator. It is very easy to use.
The most important reason to track your BMI is to help you stay within a healthy weight range. If you are – great! If not, it is time to do is to do whatever you need to do to get your weight where it should be. Unhealthy weight (under or over) is not good. There are many risks associated with both that should be addressed.
Let’s look at the same person above who is at the high end of the normal range – edging toward the overweight category. Let’s increase his/her weight by 40 pounds to 200. He now falls into the obese category with a BMI of 30.0, which puts him at risk for health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and more. Don’t let this happen to you!
This is a follow up to a previous post from a few days ago in which I talked about the dreaded dieter’s plateau – the point in the dieting process that always appears no matter how much you do not want it to. You are moving along great, the pounds are coming off, you feel confident that you will reach your goal and suddenly the scale seems to be broken – it doesn’t change from day to day. It is maddening! You start to think if things don’t change soon, you will go backwards and gain all you have lost. What can you do?
First – recognize that hitting a plateau is part of the process. Instead of letting it get you down and knocking you off track, look at it as an opportunity to clear your head, intensify your focus and develop a strategy to move forward toward your goal.
Below are eight things you can do to re-light the spark that ignited your determination in the beginning and get across the plateau to higher ground.
Check your ultimate goal – is it realistic and healthy?
When you are stalled it is critical to consider your ultimate goal carefully. Ask these questions: 1) Is the weight you are planning to reach realistic? 2) Is your expected rate of weight loss reasonable and healthy? 3) Are you going about it the right way? Whatever the answers, don’t let them discourage you or be a reason for quitting. Simply make the necessary adjustments to keep you moving forward.
Hopefully you have chosen a healthy, nutritionally-rich weight-loss program. If so, you should be losing one to two pounds per week. Also, remember that everyone’s body is different, with its own ideal weight and size. An easy trap to fall into is the desire to look like your friend, a model, or a celebrity.
Comparisons are dangerous and goals that are based on such comparisons are faulty. Your body knows your ideal weight, so listen and pay attention to what feels right. A good marker can be set by using a Body Mass Index Calculator to find your ideal weight. (Be sure to read the information to understand how it works.)
The ideal weight range is wide enough that you can figure out which end of the range should be your goal. As I get older I tend to feel better a little on the heavier side. Be sure to factor in age and your current health. Remember that healthy weight is a lifestyle – not a diet!
Switch to eating high-protein/low-carbs for a while
You must eat enough protein – even on a diet – to maintain your lean muscle mass. When you cut your protein down too low, you will lose weight, but it will come from both your fat and muscle tissue, which is not healthy.
In order to preserve muscle tissue during a weight loss regimen, men need 150 grams of protein per day, and women need 100 grams. If you made a mistake in the beginning and have already lost some muscle tissue, you should seriously consider adjusting your diet to include more protein in order to sustain your muscle tissue and jump-start your diet again.
Every diet or weight loss program must include the necessary nutrients to preserve your body’s muscles. If you have chosen one that does not do that, make the necessary changes NOW.
Incorporate aerobic exercise and resistance training into your routine
A great way to boost metabolism is to make aerobic exercise a regular activity. For people under 35, a 30-minute brisk walk – three to four times a week will do wonders. Over 35 or terribly out of shape because of prolonged lack of exercise, you should start with 10 to 15 minutes two or three times a week and build up slowly.
Another great exercise choice is weight training with free weights or machines, if you are up to it. It is an excellent way to increase your metabolism almost overnight – as much as 5% to 10%. Workouts several times a week will increase muscle mass, which burns more calories faster. Studies have shown that a solid weight training workout can boost your metabolism for as long as 21 hours after.
Look for hidden carbs that may be stalling your progress
Stay alert and pay attention to what you are eating. When your weight loss slows to a standstill (hits a plateau), check for hidden carbohydrates that may be piggy-backing unnoticed into your diet. For example – sugar can be found in very unlikely places, especially condiments such as salad dressing, ketchup, teriyaki sauce, BBQ sauce, etc.
Processed foods such as gravies and sauces that are found on frozen veggies must be avoided – they often contain sugar, milk solids and cornstarch. AND, watch out for low-fat foods. Yes, they take out the fat, but they add a lot of sugar and sugar products as flavor enhancers.
If you can’t immediately identify the culprits, put on your detective hat. . . for a couple of days make a list of everything you eat and drink, and read labels. Then, each night study the list and find the hidden carbs that may be keeping you stuck. Once you know what they are, you can stop eating them and break through the plateau.
Stop eating refined and processed food
Eliminate all refined foods from your diet – especially refined sugar and grains. In case you don’t know, this includes all white rice and all white flour products such as white bread, pastries, pasta and crackers.
The second group is anything that contains refined sugar – even small amounts. This group includes soda pop, sugar-coated breakfast cereals, pop-tarts, cookies, cake and most desserts.
This is probably the simplest step, but for many people one of the hardest. However, if you can take the step, chances are you will experience a huge dieting breakthrough that will not only jump start your diet again, you will have more energy and feel better than you have in a long time.
Stay away from caffeinated drinks and diet sodas
The jury is still out on these but, there are enough studies that support the ill effects of both caffeine and diet drinks for people who are trying to lose weight that it isn’t worth the risk.
According to a report from researchers at Purdue University, drinking diet soda may not only be as bad for your health as the regular stuff, but it may be causing you to pack on the pounds.
Drinking just one can of diet soda per day is “enough to significantly increase the risk for health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.”
The report explains that diet soda and artificial sweeteners trick the body into thinking that it is consuming real food and sugar even though it isn’t, which could lead to metabolic confusion and over-consumption. Diet soda should not be considered a “healthy” alternative to regular soda – learn to drink water instead.
According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, caffeine affects cravings for food because it raises the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol raises heart rate and blood pressure and tells your body to increase its energy stores. Cravings are always a challenge when dieting, so don’t add to the problem by drinking caffeinated drinks. One last thought on caffeine . . . . avoid completely the energy drinks which are very bad for your overall health on many levels.
Be sure you eat enough
How much and how often are you eating? When you cut back on either, or both, quantity and frequency, it can negatively impact the way your body functions and easily create the weight loss plateau. There is a lot of evidence that eating small amounts, frequently can satisfy your hunger and produce better results than if you were to eat the same number of calories in three whole meals space evenly throughout the day.
When hunger pangs hit, munch on healthy, low-calorie, crunchy snacks such as sliced carrots, celery, jicama, green peppers, zucchini, and cucumbers. Eat as much as you want – no hidden culprits will be found. You can also treat yourself to a few raw almonds a couple of times during the day for a slightly sweet, healthy snack.
Stay completely hydrated
Water is an important component of any diet. You must stay hydrated with a continual replenishment of water. Dehydration can actually slow down your weight loss. Become one of those people who always have a bottle of water in their hands or sitting next to them as they work. Hydration not only helps the body burn fat efficiently, it also helps control your hunger.
A high-quality aloe concentrate added to your water can be an excellent aid in keeping your digestive tract working at its best. Also consider taking a probiotic supplement to assist in maintaining healthy intestinal flora.
Keep Your eye on the prize – stay motivated
If you are like most of us, once you decide to begin a serious weight-loss program and commit yourself to the process, there is a sense of right-mindedness and excitement about the end result; and, the excitement mounts as the pounds began to fall off, one-by-one. Keep that feeling alive in your mind and tap into it whenever doubt and discouragement start to creep in.
Remember what helped you make the decision to start losing weight. Think about your primary motivation and see if it still works, or if you need to find a stronger motivation. Then, keep reminders in critical places such as your master bathroom mirror and/or the refrigerator.
A picture of you looking great is often helpful – maybe a before and after from years past – maybe a favorite dress or new suit, or the perfect swimsuit for your summer vacation that you can’t wait to wear.
We all have our hot points – for me it is simply the way I feel when I a slim that motivates me the most. What is yours? I know you have one (or two). Find it and keep it clearly in your mind’s eye – or physically where you can see it every day.
Most important of all – don’t forget – THE PLATEAU IS TEMPORARY. Don’t let it defeat you.