Posted in Wellness Wednesdays
It’s the time of year when many of us turn our attention to our health. Ok, let’s be honest, by health I mean weight. Now three weeks into my resolution to lose six pounds, I’m down two. Not exactly a stellar performance, but it beats the alternative.
The startling facts are, according to the CDC, 33.9 percent of U.S. adults are obese, and another 34.4 percent are merely overweight. Which leaves those folks at healthy weights in the minority.
There is certainly no shortage of approaches to weight-loss. The multi-million dollar weight loss industry hawks thousands of books, magazines, weight-loss centers, and food substitutes. Our problem is not from lack of information, or even for lack of trying. I know very few people, even in the healthy-weight category that aren’t trying to drop at least a few pounds.
To be fair, the problem for obese people is a lot harder to tackle, it’s not just their imagination. Tara Parker-Pope’s NY Times article, The Fat Trap, explores the frustrating problem that so many people encounter of gaining back weight that they so diligently worked to lose. Turns out it’s not a problem of willpower or discipline. And it also turns out it’s not true that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.
A typical 30-year old woman who weighs 190 pounds can eat about 2,600 calories a day and maintain her weight. But the same woman who achieved that weight by losing over 10 percent of her body weight will only be able to eat about 2,300 calories per day without gaining weight. Yes, unfair!
To blame are the metabolic and hormonal changes that accompany significant weight loss. So it really is harder for someone to keep the weight off after losing it than it is for someone who never varied from that weight in the first place. To really add heft to the unfairness of it all, this effect on calorie burning may last up to six years.
Which brings me to my six-pound goal. I am not overweight by any measure of the word. But I have consistently gained a half a pound a year for the last 16 years. So I’d rather reverse that course now, before I land in the land of the metabolic catch-22. And for that, I will share a little inspiration, Michael Pollan’s, Food Rules, an Eater’s Manual.
Most of us have figured out that it’s easier to keep up a moderate exercise program consistently than a drastic, complicated, intense one. Well, it’s the same with an eating program. I don’t buy the philosophy that the more complicated it is, the more effective it is. I think we all know what to do, we just need a little reminder.
Michael Pollan’s compact book is just that, a quick reminder of what you already know. The book contains 64 rules, they read much like a series of blog posts. They revolve around the central advice, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” The first section defines food. For example, food your great-grandmother would recognize as food, things with ingredients that a third-grader can pronounce, foods that aren’t pretending to be something they are not. The last two sections are on making the healthiest food choices and tips for portion control.
If you, like I, need a little inspiration to keep the resolution you’ve made year after year by following advice you already know, I recommend this short read. It’s not rocket-science, it’s just common sense, something we can all use a little of from time to time.
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