Merry Fitness: Assessing the ‘bottom-line’ of an appetite-indulged holiday season

Written by John A. Anderson – Editor-in-Chief

Ah, the festive weight of the holiday season. As a general rule, holidays leave some persistent reminders. Combine Halloween sweets with Thanksgiving dinner and these Christmas cookies, then wash yourself with the New Year holidays and you'll have the recipe for a healthy holiday treat deliciously left around half. The "bottom line" of a holiday season spoiled by appetite is a city analogous to T.S. Elliot's belt – at least in terms of health.

Okay, sophisticated dietary euphemism, but official confirmation is that 61% of adult Americans – about two out of three – are overweight and growing. According to statistics from the US Surgeon General, this figure is the same as last year and higher than 10 years ago.

So much for the resolutions! Yet the coming new year offers a chance to start from scratch. And if one of your resolutions is to lose weight, the best way to do it is slow and regular. The only quick fix in terms of weight loss is perhaps a modest caloric decrease offset by increased activity.

Consider these statistics:

Overweight people have a double risk of high blood pressure compared to a normal weight.
They are also two to three times more likely to suffer a heart attack, twice as likely to have a stroke and up to four times more diabetes.
They are two to three times more likely to develop gallstones, twice as likely to develop colon cancer and at least twice as likely to suffer from knee arthritis.
Overall, overweight people have a risk of all-cause death that is 50 to 100% higher than those with normal weight.
Overweight people report having a less satisfying sex life.

Losing even a pound a year, over several years, can dramatically improve your health. For example, one study found that people who lost a pound a year for eight years reduced their risk of diabetes from 37% to 62%.

To lose one pound a year, you just need to cut 10 calories a day, which is less than the number of potato chips! But do not forget the exercise component. Dieting alone is not the way to improve overall health. The best way to start is to walk, a simple activity that everyone can do and that requires no equipment. The Surgeon General recommends that every American do 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as walking, every week (22 min / day). You do not have to be a marathon runner to be fit.

And if you feel a bit tricky, combine walking and weightlifting; you will do better. By replacing fat with muscle, you burn more calories. A recent study found that women who carried weight for 40 minutes continued to burn an additional 155 calories within two hours of stopping exercise. Men burn even more.

It's time to get out of the belt. Start by adopting a new attitude towards diet and exercise. To be specific. Forget the big promises that will not last a week. Determine to slowly implement food choices for the better. (I.E. – No soda for two weeks, no fries or fries, cut white flour). Controlling portions and moving to regular physical activity makes it easier to succeed. When you can exercise for 30 to 60 minutes each time, increase the number of days. Become stronger each day.

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