testing on May 20, 2010 5:46 am
just a test
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It's Killing Us on May 6, 2010 12:18 pm
The last time I checked, you can not do too much to change your age, race, genetic attributes or family history. All of these can be risk factors for a number of different diseases and conditions. For better or worse, once born, you are stuck with these traits. On the other hand, there are also a number of variables that we do have personal control over that can increase or decrease our risk of developing a particular type of disease. With personal choices, not only can we increase or decrease our risk, but we can also exacerbate or reduce the potential risk associated with those factors we can’t control. Tobacco use, our environment and stress levels are all things we have various levels of personal control over. Perhaps, the most powerful personal choices we make, as they relate to obesity and other diseases, is how much or how little we use our bodies and what we fuel our bodies with.
What is killing us?
First, let’s take a depressing look at the leading causes of death in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the top ten leading causes of death are; 1) Heart disease 2) Cancer from all causes 3) Stroke 4) Chronic lower respiratory diseases 5) Accidents 6) Diabetes 7) Alzheimer’s disease 8) Influenza and Pneumonia 9) Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis, and 10) Septicemia. Notice that obesity is not on this list, but at least half of the leading causes of death, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, share many of the same risk factors and/or contribute to one another. Furthermore, many of the leading causes of death are a direct result of or influenced by obesity. Historically speaking, obesity has not been classified as a major cause of death. It is clear, however, that obesity contributes to more deaths than any other single disease or condition alone. It is for this reason that many are labeling obesity as the new leading cause of death in the United States.
Genetics and other nice bed time stories
As obesity has become more prevalent here in the U.S., it is not surprising that increases have been seen in heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and other obesity related diseases and conditions. It is interesting to consider some of the other changes that have also occurred at the same time. During this same time, medicine has advanced tremendously. The number of health clubs and health club memberships have increased drastically. Health food stores such as GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe, as well as the number of health food products they sell, have risen sharply. Public initiatives to walk for so long or take so many steps each day are pouring out of Washington. The list goes on and on, but what has it accomplished? Sure, a select few folks are making some serious money, but it is quite obvious that the endless list of “health products” has not made a positive impact on the rising rates of obesity and associated conditions. So, where have we gone wrong?
It’s our genetics!
As with many other diseases, there is certainly a genetic component to obesity. With that said, our genetics now do not differ greatly from our genetics 100 or 200 years ago before we had a major problem with obesity. Each time a new genetic link to obesity is discovered, it is important to remember that the human genome did not evolve overnight. Those same genetic links we are finding today have been present for quite some time, long before this obesity epidemic we are currently struggling through. For the majority of us, thin, obese, pear shaped, black or white, our genetics are just fine, but we are choosing to do things that our genetics simply do not handle or tolerate very well. If you have one container with one square hole and ten pegs of varying shapes and sizes, but the peg you are trying to fit into the container is not working, what would you do? You can’t select another container but you can choose from a variety of pegs to put into the container, until you find the one that fits. Our genetics are here to stay for a while, but how we deal with our genetics is up to us.
Make it a lifestyle...well kind of
You had to know that physical activity and food were going to come up sooner or later. Whether you are pre or post weight loss surgery, losing weight non-surgically or not concerned with weight loss at all, we always hear that a healthy lifestyle includes regular physical activity and wholesome foods. But, what does that really mean? Does an hour in the gym four days a week constitute a physically active lifestyle? Does regularly eating low-fat, high-protein, vitamin fortified protein shakes and bars constitute a wholesome diet?
Physical activity or something like it
This is how I see a typical American’s “active lifestyle” (proceed with caution, an unusually long sentence ahead). We mow the lawn with a riding mower, we hire someone to do the rest of the landscaping, we wash dishes in the dishwasher, we change the channel with the remote, we get money from the drive through ATM, we take the dogs to the groomer, we eat out more than we cook at home with our families, we find the closest parking spot we can and the elevator takes us up to the office. But three to four days a week, we drive our cars to the gym and hop on the treadmill for 30 minutes. We spend another 30 minutes on weight machines and then we get in our cars and drive home. Ah yes, a physically active lifestyle at its finest. I would like to say that I am exaggerating with the uncomfortably long sentence above, but I am not.
Something worth mentioning briefly, is the impact regular physical activity has on disease. Let’s use cardiovascular disease as an example. While an individuals body weight and numerous other factors impact one’s cardiovascular disease risk, more than 40% of the U.S. population is at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease simply because they do not move enough. Perhaps you have achieved your goal weight after weight loss surgery, but are relatively inactive. Cardiovascular disease risk, while reduced as you lose weight, does not simply vanish with weight loss. If you are inactive, even at a healthy weight, your risk of cardiovascular and other diseases are higher than if lived a truly active lifestyle.
One hundred or more years ago, health clubs were hard to come by. Pilates was just some guy’s last name and water aerobics, well, let’s just say that in-ground pools were slightly less common. Yet, the risk of becoming obese or developing cardiovascular disease or diabetes due to physical inactivity was not nearly as prevalent as it is today. The fact of the matter is that the majority of us do not live physically active lifestyles even if we exercise four, five or six times a week for an hour. An hour of your day, several times a week, does not represent a lifestyle. Our bodies are not accustomed to moving 30 or 60 minutes a day. Our bodies are designed to do work, not depend on something else to do it for us. Food, if that’s what you call it Do you know who grows your food? Do you know how far your food has traveled? Do you know if any of the foods you eat contain genetically modified ingredients? Were your tomatoes ripened with ethylene gas? Do you know what all those ingredients are on the food labels of the foods you eat? Is the beef you eat from cattle that eat primarily grass? Is your salmon really wild? If you answered “no” or “I don’t know” to most or all of these questions, how do you know you are truly eating healthy food?
For the most part, we are disconnected from the food we eat unlike we have ever been in the past. We eat and purchase more foods in a box than raw whole foods. Calorically dense, sweet and salty foods are on every street corner. Few of us know a farmer by name (other than your great grandfather) and fewer of us grow our own vegetable gardens or have a tomato plant and a few herbs growing in the kitchen window. Many of us can rattle off facts about protein and vitamin needs, but don’t know where the local farmers market is. We depend far too much on large companies and big corporate interests to supply the foods we put in our mouths numerous times each day. There is something really wrong with this scenario and if we keep depending on others to essentially make our food choices for us, we will continue to face the same issues we are facing today.
I challenge you to investigate your food. What country are your bell peppers coming from in the winter? What pesticides are used on your fruits and vegetables? How was your chicken raised and treated before it found its way to your plate? Bell peppers, chicken, fruits and vegetables; these are healthy foods right? Well, we live in a time of industrial food and as food is mass produced, even the healthiest of foods can sometimes fall prey to unintended consequences.
In dependency we trust
The fight against the obesity epidemic and a number of preventable diseases is really one of dependency. It is not a fight against genetics or laziness. We depend far too much on someone else or something else to do our work for us and to supply us with “healthy” food. It’s not a poor recommendation to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. But, until we actually use our bodies, live actively and depend far less on someone or something to do our work, the problems associated with physical inactivity will persist. It’s not a poor recommendation to get at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. However, if we don’t become more familiar with how our food is treated and grown, know where it comes from, purchase more locally grown foods and/or take the initiative to grow some of our own, we will continue to be inundated with bad, unhealthy, mass produced food.
Bottom line, we each need to make a conscious effort to use our bodies more, not just in gym or on our 30 minute walks, but to do basic things each day that we have otherwise just let some machine do. We also need to take responsibility for the quality of the food we are eating and demand better. Uncle Sam can regulate this food and that, but unless you pick the food from your backyard or you can go visit the local farm your food was grown on, it is difficult to ensure that you are eating quality food. We enjoy modern conveniences and the efficiencies they offer, but what good are they if we allow 5, 10 or 20 years of our lives to be taken from us?
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Fitness & Food: Fact or Fiction on April 27, 2010 8:18 am
Originally published in the April Member Newsletter. Not a subscriber yet? Click here to subscribe to the ObesityHelp Member Newsletter.
You could probably fill an entire Encyclopedia Britannica with all of the fitness and food folklore spewed from the pages of popular health and fitness magazines. Since I don't have the option of spending the rest of my life dispelling all of the myths out there, here are a few that come across my desk most often.
FICTION: Low intensity exercise is better for burning fat than high intensity exercise.
Nearly every treadmill, elliptical machine and stationary bike display a graph of the different training zones. One of those training zones listed on the graph is the "Fat Burning Zone" which corresponds to low intensity exercise such as walking or light jogging. These graphs are not actually incorrect, but the way this information is interpreted often is. When low intensity exercise such as walking is performed, the majority of the energy used to fuel that activity does indeed come from fat (this is what those graphs imply). The way this is often interpreted is that low intensity is actually better for burning fat than higher intensity exercise. This is not the case.
As exercise intensity increases, the percentage of fuel from fat decreases. With that said, just because the percentage of fat used decreases, DOES NOT mean less fat is utilized during exercise or after exercise is complete. Three things to keep in mind in regards to the fat burning zone:
FICTION: Organic is best.
Just because the canned foods or fresh produce you buy has the USDA organic stamp of approval, it does not mean the food has not been treated with chemicals or pesticides. There are a number of natural/organic chemicals and pesticides that can be used on crops while allowing that food to remain certified organic. Additionally, many of the local farmers at your farmers market can't afford to go through the process of becoming certified organic despite the fact that they may engage in organic growing practices.
- 60% percent of 200 is equal to 30% of 400. Just because the percentage of fat decreases as intensity goes up, does not mean that less fat is utilized.
- Higher intensity exercise can cause greater and longer lasting post exercise increases in metabolism than low intensity exercise.
- At the end of the day, it honestly does not matter whether the majority of energy used during exercise comes from fat or carbohydrate. Total caloric expenditure is most important when it comes to weight maintenance and weight loss.
Unless you personally know the individual growing your food or you take it upon yourself to grow your own, it is difficult to know exactly what chemicals/pesticides are used on your food. The benefit of shopping at local farmers markets is that the farms are generally close enough to visit and you can actually see how your food is grown regardless of whether it has the USDA organic stamp of approval.
FICTION: Cardiovascular exercise is best for weight loss.
There is no evidence that cardiovascular training causes greater weight loss or more beneficial body composition changes than strength training.
FACT: I can divide my exercise sessions throughout the day and get the same results.
Exercise can be divided into 5, 10 or 15 minutes several times and still receive the same health benefits as one continuous session. However, if you have specific fitness goals in mind, your activity should be similar to or support the specific goals you are trying to achieve. For example, if you are trying to run a half marathon, divided sessions throughout the day is not going to prepare you properly for the event.
FICTION: Protein is the most important nutrient to fuel and recover from exercise.
Especially for those who have had weight loss surgery, protein is often the macronutrient that takes precedent. When it comes to supporting a decent bit of physical activity, however, protein does very little to meet the energy demands associated with high intensity and/or long duration exercise. Carbohydrate is a must before and after exercise and the quantities of carbohydrate should be greater than that of protein.
For more details on this topic, check out the article, Weight Loss Surgery, Carbohydrates and Exercise.
FICTION: High repetitions and low weight are best for "toning".
First, let me say that I can't stand it when I hear "tone" and strength or resistance training mentioned in the same sentence. High repetitions and low weight are NOT best for "toning". There are two ways to make muscle more visible. You either need to decrease body fat % or increase muscle size (generally a combination of both occurs). Heavier weight and lower repetitions are best for increasing muscular size and strength. For those of you who are concerned about "bulking up" too much if you lift heavy weight, don't be. For the most part excessive "bulking up" is not even an option after weight loss surgery. In fact, it’s all you can do to retain muscle tissue.
FACT: Low levels of physical activity can dramatically improve health.
About 60% of the reduction in cardiovascular disease associated with regular physical activity are achieved through low to moderate levels of physical activity. Higher levels of physical activity can certainly provide additional benefits but don't be frustrated with yourself if you are only able to perform a small amount of activity at first. This is still great for your health.
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Site Changes Coming Soon on March 16, 2010 12:00 am
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In the coming weeks you will see a number of changes here at ObesityHelp. The first of those is the addition of the Meebo bar. Meebo will allow you to instant message with other members in your ObesityHelp friends list. If you choose, Meebo will also allow you to connect to other instant messaging services such as MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, Facebook and others. There will also be an option to disable instant messaging if this is something you do not want to participate in.
The new look and feel will include a much improved navigation and a redesigned homepage.
||Some of the tabs currently available will be removed and some new tabs will be added. This will provide easier access to some of the most important and highly used feautres on ObesityHelp.
||The new "Smart Menus" will be easier to read and navigate.
||The search bar will allow you to quickly search and drill down on areas you are interested in such as forums, members, photos and more.
||Before and After pictures will be reintroduced to the homepage.
||The latest blog posts from members, groups and the OH Blog will be readily accessible from the new homepage.
||There will also be a new section, OH Pulse, that will highlight community stats such as total pounds lost, calories burned, glasses of water drank and activity minutes.
Metabolic Madness on March 16, 2010 12:00 am
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Originally published in the March Member Newsletter
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Which weighs more, a pound of muscle or a pound of fat? Ok just kidding, a pound is a pound but you would be surprised to know how many times I have been asked that question. Generally that question or others like it, refer to the old adage about muscle weighing more than fat and muscle increasing metabolic rate. There is no doubt about it, the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate will be. The same however can be said about weight in general; the more you weigh the higher your resting metabolic rate is. Similar to many other nuggets of knowledge that we often take as "fitness gospel", the trail of misinformation is often lined with money. So, how overstated, understated or misrepresented is the muscle-metabolism link?
Buy this, build muscle and ignore the disappointment
Imagine you are watching TV and some sculpted, somewhat irritating, energizer bunny type guy or gal is riding some odd contraption doing hip thrusts while somehow speaking with perfect clarity. You know the type I am talking about. My favorite lately is the guy on the Teeter Hang Ups commercial. He is like 70 years old and swings upside down and back upright while simultaneously talking to the camera without pausing for a single second. It's crazy. Anyway, the hip thrusting energizer bunny is saying something like, "Burn fat and build muscle! For each pound of muscle you gain you will burn 50 extra calories a day!" Wow, fifty extra calories day is pretty spectacular. That means if you build a measly five pounds of muscle, you will burn 250 extra calories a day just sitting around. Sign me up!
If you browse around the internet for a little while you will see numerous articles that claim you will burn 50-60 extra calories for each additional pound of muscle you build. This does sound pretty appealing but does it add up? Let's take a look at an average male. The average 160 pound male will have about 65 pounds of skeletal muscle. So about 40% of an average male's body weight is muscle tissue. If each pound of muscle does indeed burn 50 calories per day that would mean 65 pounds of muscle will burn about 3250 calories a day. Consider for a second that this does not yet include the metabolic activities of the heart, lungs, liver, brain or additional calories expended through exercise. Needless to say, skeletal muscle does not burn 50 calories a day at rest. What can you expect from a few extra pounds of muscle?
At rest the actual caloric expenditure per pound of skeletal muscle is roughly 5-6 calories per day. Using our male subject, we can expect his resting metabolic rate to be somewhere around 1700 calories a day. As a side note, if you are interested in getting an estimate of your resting metabolic rate, click here
to get an estimate using ObesityHelp's Health Tracker
. Now, let's say each pound of his skeletal muscle burns 5.5 calories a day at rest. This would put total calories expended by his skeletal muscle at 357.5 calories a day. This represents about 20% of resting metabolic rate. If this same individual added five extra pounds of muscle tissue, this would expend a whopping 27.5 extra calories a day. I know this sounds a bit disappointing but there is more to the story.
After the fact
What does it take to gain considerable amounts of muscle tissue? Strength or resistance training is generally regarded as the best way to gain muscle tissue. Additionally, high intensity exercise such as interval training or strength training can impact resting metabolic rate for up to 24-48 hours after exercise has been completed. Some of these increases in resting energy expenditure can be as high as 7%. Again, considering the resting metabolic rate of the male subject mentioned previously, a 7% increase in resting metabolic rate would amount to an extra 119 calories. If intense exercise such as strength training is performed several days a week, in addition to other activities or exercise you may involved in, the temporary increases in resting metabolic rate associated with strength training can certainly add up. Steady state cardiovascular exercise, while the caloric expenditure the exercise is fairly high, any increase in resting energy expenditure is short lived.
One place people often go wrong, especially women, is the intensity and type of the strength training they participate in. In order to increase resting energy expenditure, muscular strength and to some extent muscle size, it requires more than performing a few five pound bicep curls. You need to perform exercises that involve large muscle groups such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, chest and back. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss an actual exercise program but complex exercises such as squats, dead lifts, lungs, bench presses, lat pull downs, shoulder presses and a number of others, will engage large muscle groups and allow you to lift significant amounts of weight.
It’s always worth mentioning that women should not be concerned with "bulking" as a result of lifting too much weight. For reasons such as caloric restriction associated with bariatric surgery and the typical female hormone profile, most women simply can't "bulk up" to begin with.
Different stages = different results
I always like to touch on the fact that you can expect different results depending on the level of caloric restriction you are currently under. As caloric intake increases the further post-op you become, so will the level of exercise you can tolerate. If you are just starting, take it slow, do what you can and set yourself up for success by creating realistic goals.
Next to simply controlling caloric intake, regular physical activity is the most powerful tool at your disposal. While exercise may not be best at actually causing weight loss, its ability to help you maintain weight loss is second to none. Whether it is the calories expended during a spin on the bike, a good strength training session or those five pounds of extra muscle you have developed, together they act as a powerful set of resources to control weight and ensure long-term success.
What have you been told about exercise, muscle and metabolism?