Thoughts on preventing weight gain
When I was a teen, I could have eaten anything and not gained weight. I loved food. I could eat seven to eight pieces of pizza in just one sitting (I read that now and feel sick to my stomach). But 15 years ago, food + me = best friends. This is usually how it is for most teens. But once I hit about 21, my metabolism shifted. I couldn't just eat anything I wanted anymore. I was less active than in my teens, so I wasn't burning the calories. And slowly but surely, I gained 10 pounds. I wasn't upset by those 10 pounds—they were just there. But after I got married and realizing I had sub-par cooking skills, the pounds continued to pack on. I was one year into marriage and 10 pounds heavier.
After a lifestyle change including lessons in cooking and commitment to fitness, I slowly lost the excess weight I was carrying and found myself back to my high school weight. But now what? I reached my magical number of my goal weight—how do I maintain it?
As a fitness trainer, I work with many different populations: people who want to lose weight for health or cosmetic reasons, people who want to become leaner and carry less body fat, people who are training for more endurance or athletic ability. What I’ve noticed is that the majority of people who hire a trainer are looking to lose weight and keep it off. So, after you have lost the weight, how can you alter your life so the pounds do not creep up as we age?
One of the biggest hindrances to weight loss or even maintenance is the sedentary American lifestyle. Most of us get up the in the morning, drive to work, sit at a desk all day, drive home; only to sit on the couch and watch TV until bedtime. That does nothing for our health or wellbeing. We need to move it to lose it. It is a well-known fact that as we age our basal metabolic rate goes down. If we are not expending more calories than we are eating, insidious weight gain will be on the rise. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, middle-aged women need to aim for an hour a day of moderate exercise to keep the weight from creeping up. This study followed 34,000 middle-aged women over a 13-year period. Although none of these participants counted calories or watched their food intake, the study found those women who moved roughly an hour a day with moderate activity, gained less weight over time than the women who were less active. As a result of this study, the American Medical Association is suggesting an hour a day of moderate activity for middle-aged women to maintain weight.
Moderate activity can include walking at a brisk pace, dancing, bicycling and strength training. But finding time to do those activities daily can be a chore. Take the time to do a “values” check. Do you value keeping the pounds off and keeping yourself away from things like heart disease, diabetes and other weight causing illnesses? How important is it to watch the new episode of Modern Family versus going outside that hour to walk the dogs? If finding the time is truly impossible, break it up: 10-minute walks, six times a day. It’s time to decide what we value and live that way. Our health and longevity depends on it.
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