Weight-related health problems are a leading cause of avoidable health costs. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index over 30. Despite much medical research into managing obesity, the foundation of weight control is still diet and exercise. Many people struggle with these fundamentals. These are some of the common problems we hear:
I started exercising, but I haven’t lost any weight! This raises many questions. How long have we changed our activity level? How intense was the exercise? How many hours a week are we exercising? Are we performing aerobic exercise such as walking, or strength building exercise like weight lifting?
When trying to lose weight, it is important to recognize that 30 minutes of vigorous walking will be cancelled out by drinking a single latte or a few cookies. For many, this seems hopeless. In reality, for most people it takes large amounts of exercise (such as marathon training) to burn enough calories to lose weight. But there are a few key ideas to understand.
Long and slow exercise burns fat calories the best. Long walks and hikes are wonderful fat burners. If you have bad knees or feet, go for a long bike ride (check out the Orting trail). Strength building activities complement aerobic exercise. They make you stronger or faster, allowing you to burn more calories more easily in the same amount of time. But most important, the biggest payoff with exercise is simply feeling better. More alert, more energy, and usually, less hungry through the day.
So exercise is very important, but most people will not lose weight simply by increasing their exercise. And it’s ok to do easy exercise. Forget “no pain no gain”, just go out and find a way to feel good with it.
Start with exercise, but to really lose weight you need to study your diet. There really is not a lot to say about this; since people are so different in their food preferences and habits it is hard to make a rule about how to lose weight. The closest thing to a rule we can recommend is, if you don’t know how it grew or was prepared, avoid it.
Here’s a good place to look at what a well balanced diet should look like.
If you are still struggling despite this advice, see your doctor. But please be prepared to review what work you have done. Write down your story. What worked in the past, what didn’t seem to help, and what you think you want to try next?