Dr. Cheryl Woodson

Woodsonian Thoughts on Thursday: Put Your Hands on the Wheel and Drive Your Weight Healthy!

woman-doing-fitness-exercise-rubber-band-mid-adult-training-muscles-white-background-31644397Joan Lunden invited me to her women’s retreat, Camp Reveille in Maine, to participate in a discussion of healthy lifestyles. The former anchor of Good Morning America and national eldercare spokesperson is also an intrepid warrior against her own health challenges. Joan asked why women have so much trouble losing weight. My answer was that most of us don’t know how to do it; we eat too seldom, (only one, or two meals a day,) and too late (after eight o’clock at night.) We over-eat (large portions,) and under-move (sit at computers.) I also learned that if we say “losing weight,” we’re sure to find it. We should say that we’re shedding unneeded energy stores (fat.)

Obesity is an illness, diagnosed when we weight more than recommended for our height. The body mass index (BMI) describes a relationship between height and weight, but it can be misleading in muscular people. They have higher BMIs because muscle weighs more than fat (it just takes up less space, makes us more healthy, and looks better (-: ) Also, over time, researchers have changed the level of BMI that defines obesity. Today, a BMI of 25-29 is overweight; over 30 is obese, but a waist measurement more than 80 percent of the hip measurement diagnoses obesity regardless of the body weight, or BMI.

Many people take offense, but the word “obesity” does not describe a character flaw, nor comment on beauty, sex appeal, intelligence, or work ethic. If obesity is the gun, active lifestyle and healthy eating are the safety; the trigger is poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle; diabetes is the bullet, and the target is all of your blood vessels. Obesity contributes to the risk of killers like heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure, but obesity-related vascular disease also contributes to joy-draining conditions: blindness, sexual dysfunction, and chronic pain. Poor circulation can lead to leg infections and life-altering amputations. Obesity is a major factor in arthritis and some cancers. Obese people can also suffer depression and discrimination, but you can fight obesity and decrease your health risks.

Learn about nutrition, not dieting. Eating too much SUGAR generates fat. Carbohydrates are the body’s favorite energy source. High glycemic index foods (like bread, pasta, and other starches) into sugar. Dumping large amounts of sugar into the blood, these foods call out insulin, the hormone that manages sugar transport and storage. If you are not physically active, you won’t burn off all of this sugar; insulin promotes storage, and the storage form is fat. Low glycemic index foods (mainly vegetables, but also substituting breads, pastas, and cereals with alternatives, higher in fiber) allow sugar to move into the blood stream more slowly. This lowers the insulin spike, decreasing fat accumulation.

The films “Hungry for Change” and “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead,” explain this, and they will change your life. The described long-term “no solid food” juicing is too extreme, but a 3, 5, or 7- day regimen (drinking six to eight ounces, six times per day, about 1500 calories) will break your carb addiction. After this short “reboot,” I no longer wanted cake, cookies, chips, bread, pasta, French fries, etc. The program also changes your perspective on cheating. Once, I “cheated” by eating a pear, instead of juicing it. Who needed a Snickers bar? I thought that was the best pear in the universe! I also learned that I can survive and feel satisfied with smaller amounts. Juicing, as part of a healthy diet makes it easier (and tastier) to get the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables every day. The recipes will also convince you that whole (less processed) foods that are low in fat can be delicious.

NEXT THURSDAY: Food is just coal, gas and wood; your body is an engine. Feed your engine right and go farther.

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