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Weight Control, Why Bother?

Media writers love controversy.  They are fond of reminding us that North Americans are fatter than ever, that obesity is dangerous to our health, but that weight-loss attempts are unhealthy and doomed to failure.  Where does that leave us?  Should we forget the whole business and find solace in a bag of chocolate chip cookies?

The observations above underscore the importance of a healthful lifestyle.  Rising rates of obesity and obesity-related diseases and failed attempts to control weight mean that, more than ever, we need to develop better eating and exercise habits.

Successful Weight Control:  A byproduct of a lifelong healthful lifestyle.

A significant proportion of overweight people do succeed in losing weight and, more important, keeping it off.  You already know what is required:  well-balanced meals that include plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Daily calorie and protein intake must be adequate, and not leave you feeling hungry and deprived.  Low fat does not mean no fat; just keep an eye on daily intake.

Physical activity five or more days a week is the cornerstone of successful weight control, building gradually so that you avoid injury.  A healthy attitude is essential. If you overeat, confront your reasons. Find other ways to nurture yourself and deal with stress.

As you develop a healthful lifestyle, you may find that you lose some extra pounds.  But you will also be preventing heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and a host of other lifestyle-related disorders.  And even better, you will be increasing your stress resistance and daily energy level.

Focus on Fitness Not Fatness

Many people encounter frustration when trying to achieve weight-loss goals.  Weight-loss success is hard to predict. Some people shed extra weight quickly, others very slowly. Many people do everything right but still have weeks where the scale shows no change.  For this reason, weight-loss goals can be counterproductive.

Focusing on the health and fitness you are achieving with lifestyle change will give you the right outlook.  Fitness is something you gain, something that makes you feel good. Lifestyle change works best when performed for positive reasons in the spirit of self-love.  Even if the scale does not show weight loss, you can feel good about sticking to your plans to increase physical activity, eat more vegetables or cut down on after-dinner snacking.

Focusing on fitness can help people who think they need to lose weight but really don't or can't.  Most of us will never look like a fashion model.  Our legs may always be a little larger than the ads say they should be.  See them as strong and powerful!  Exercise improves mood and self-concept, and reinforces our commitment to a lifelong healthful lifestyle, regardless of how thin we do or do not get.

Pleasure Comes First

Lifestyle changes must feel good to be truly healthful. Meals should be as flavorful, delicious and convenient as possible.  Many low fat cookbooks with simple recipes are available if you need some new ideas.  Physical activity should be fun, something you look forward to, a natural part of your day. Feeling good is good for your health.  Feeling stressed will undo all of your positive lifestyle changes.

Even a Small Weight Loss Improves Health

Banish perfectionism.  Perfectionists are doomed to misery and failure.  Avoid the success or failure thinking that is epitomized by on-the-diet versus off-the-diet eating.  All improvements are worthwhile, even if you are not perfect.

Research shows that if you need to lose weight, a loss of only 10 or 15 pounds has positive health benefits.  It helps normalize blood pressure, improve blood-sugar regulation and cholesterol levels, and ease the stress on burdened joints. Better to lose 10 pounds and keep it off than get on the crash-diet/weight-gain roller coaster.


From a flyer at my gym