Gay Fitness: How Do I Lose 50 Pounds?
Q: Okay, I'm 35 years old, 5'9 and weigh 249 pounds. I love eating and I hate exercise. My doctor just told me my cholesterol is out of control, my blood pressure is high, I'm pre-diabetic and I have GOT to lose weight. I just joined a gym and I'm trying to exercise, but I can hardly do 10 minutes on the treadmill. Seriously, how do I lose 50 pounds?
A: You lose it one pound at a time. It takes time, patience and an unconditional commitment by you to adopt a healthy lifestyle in order to improve the quality of your life - and save it. You have got to believe that you and your health are more important than any pleasure you may derive from donuts, pizza, cheeseburgers and other unhealthy food. You have got to believe that walking, bicycling and engaging in other forms of exercise are worth the effort if the end result means a healthier, happier you.
You are not alone. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Just last month, researchers at the Mayo Clinic proposed classifying physical inactivity as a medical condition so that public health measures can be taken on a national level.
"A sedentary lifestyle is a common cause of obesity, and excessive body weight and fat in turn are catalysts for diabetes, high blood pressure, joint damage and other serious health problems," said Dr. Michael Joyner, Mayo Clinic physiologist in the August edition of Journal of Physiology. "Prolonged lack of exercise can cause the body to become disconditioned (seen in sedentary workers with desk jobs or immobilized patients), with wide-ranging structural and metabolic changes: the heart rate may rise excessively during physical activity, bones and muscle atrophy, physical endurances wane, and blood volume decline.
"I would argue that physical inactivity is the root cause of many of the common [medical] problems that we have," said Dr. Joyner. "If we medicalize it, we could then develop a way, just like we've done for addiction, cigarettes and other things, to give people treatments, and lifelong treatments, that focus on behavioral modifications and physical activity."
There are four components to successful weight loss: Nutrition (which is a critical part of the battle), Exercise (both resistance training and cardio exercise), Sleep, and Stress Management (the stress hormone, cortisol, has been shown to promote weight gain).
Here are a few practical steps you can take to shed the weight:
CLEAN UP YOUR NUTRITION: Cut out all fast foods, fried and processed foods, sugary cereals and snacks as well as sodas. Increase your intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and protein. Get into the habit of eating lean protein with every meal. Good sources of protein include chicken breast, fish (especially tuna), turkey, eggs, beans, yogurt, cheese, milk.
BECOME ACTIVE: Start with simple things like parking farthest from the mall entrance, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and opting to take a long walk with the dog instead of vegging in front of the television. Build on that momentum by planning activities outside of the gym. Ideas include swimming, walking, cycling, kayaking... the more active you are, the more calories you burn.
EXERCISE: Incorporate cardiovascular as well as resistance training into your new lifestyle. If the thought of going to a big gym makes you uncomfortable, consider using an experienced personal trainer for even a few sessions (but ideally three to six months) to get you on the right track. A knowledgeable personal trainer will be able to write a good metabolic training program for you, teach you proper form and help you make important changes to your nutrition. You will get the encouragement you need and, trust me, once the weight starts to fall off and your muscle tone shines through, you will be committed to a regular exercise program.
DRINK MORE WATER: Needs vary between individuals, but a good rule of thumb is to divide your bodyweight by 2 and drink that number in ounces. That means a person who weighs 150 pounds should drink roughly 75 ounces of water (about 4 standard bottles) while a 200-pound individual should consume about 100 ounces (approximately six bottles of water).
REDUCE STRESS: High levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been linked to obesity, especially in the abdominal area. Exercise has been proven to reduce cortisol levels. So if you are one of those people who are "too busy working to have time for exercise", you should re-think your priorities. Do you have time for a stroke? Start by a brisk 45-minute walk or riding a bicycle three evenings a week. You will soon feel the difference!
SUPPLEMENT: Take a good multivitamin and fish oil capsules daily. The multivitamin will compensate for any deficiencies in your diet while the omega-3 fatty acids (which the body cannot manufacture) in your fish oil capsules will help to keep your heart healthy, lower triglycerides, reduce inflammation in joints and elsewhere in the body and may help with depression. Speak to your doctor about dosage. My favorite natural source of omega-3's is fish, especially salmon and tuna.
CHEW, DON'T SWALLOW: Chewing your food slowly not only improves digestion but allows your stomach to send the signal to the brain that you're full. This prevents over-eating which results from "swallowing" your food. Instead of eating everything on your plate, make a point to stop when you are 80 percent full. The long-term lesson here is portion control.
SNACK, DON'T SKIP MEALS: Never skip meals, especially breakfast. Practice eating a small but healthy mid-morning snack (for example, an apple and 10 whole almonds) and a smaller lunch. Eventually, you can add a mid-afternoon snack as well. Plan ahead and pack your snacks the night before.