Weight Loss Programs for Healthy Living

Obesity

Approximately 40 per cent of Americans are considered obese and inactivity is a key factor in the problem. Setting aside our society's inappropriate expectations of body shape and size, obesity is a serious health condition. It can lead to death because of heart disease, high blood pressure and/or diabetes, to name a few health risks.

Obesity occurs when an individual is more than 10 per cent above his or her ideal body weight. It tends to be caused by a combination of factors, including lifestyle (exercise and eating habits primarily), genetic, nutritional and medical issues. In virtually all instances, however, obesity can be linked to an excess consumption of food versus an insufficient amount of exercise.

Physical activity usually accounts for nearly half of total daily energy expenditure. The rest is from our metabolizing the food even as we rest. There is no quick fix for obesity.

Health is not a quick fix but a life-long commitment to appropriate eating and exercise choices. If we eat beyond our energy requirements, our bodies will store the excess food in the form of fat, not muscle.

Psychology is a major factor for an obese individual because often this person will have a poor self-image and being overweight doesn't help. Unfortunately, our culture puts a great emphasis on physical appearance. Women are particularly vulnerable to the pressure.

Some day we'll learn to accept that we all come in different body sizes and no matter what we do (short of major surgery), we cannot turn ourselves into a so-called super model unless our body has a build that predisposes us to it. Those models work on their body constantly with personal trainers nutritional consultants. After all, their body is their livelihood.

For the obese individual, that Vogue image only adds to the problem of obsessing over dieting. There is an "easy" answer but it's a long-term solution: Appropriate eating and regular exercise. Exercise is a good alternative to overeating. Many individuals who overeat, do so to reward themselves, to relieve stress, to deal with depression or for other reasons.

Exercise is a healthier and physiologically more successful way to deal with many of the reasons that some people overeat. Exercise is a wonderful stress reliever so it's a good substitute for eating. You also get a psychological boost from exercise so if you are feeling down about yourself, exercise can help you feel better.

From a weight management and weight-loss perspective, nothing burns calories like exercise. Exercise also helps build lean muscle mass as it burns fat. Choose an activity that is enjoyable, whether it's walking, weight-lifting or skiing. Make sure you also include an aerobic activity because the cardiovascular system burns more fat than the musculoskeletal system.

The short answer to dealing with obesity is to exercise regularly and eat healthy. Just remember the short answer doesn't mean a quick fix but a life-long commitment to good health.