Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Year New You!

It is a new year and we all fall into the social custom of making "resolutions."  These resolutions are goals we want to accomplish in the new year.  The most common resolution is losing weight.  The over-indulgence during the holidays can add on the pounds.  It is estimated that Americans gain over 10 lbs from Thanksgiving to New Year's day.  That amount may not seem much, but it is and is unhealthy.

That fat collects around the body, usually around the abdomen.  Each of our bodies are different so each of us will store fat in different areas.  Depending on our diet, some of us might store fat around the abdomen, legs, upper arms, or the rear end.  Fat is necessary in human physiology.  Fat is stored energy, or a reserve in case the body does not have nutrients available.  When we eat more calories than we need, those extra calories are converted into triglycerides.  The adult human body needs about 2,000 calories a day.  A child needs about 900-1000 calories.  Anything beyond that will turn into fat and will be stored until the body burns it off.

Fat is a "good" per se; however, anything in excess can do harm.  It is not good to be overweight or obese.  Excess fat, especially around the abdomen can damage vital organs.  The liver is like a sponge and when too much fat enters it, the liver will grow and turn yellowish.  This is called "Fatty liver."  Imagine taking a sponge, dipping it in oil and letting it dry.  The oil will solidify turning into a buttery substance.  This is what a fatty liver basically looks like.

The liver is extremely important.  It regulates chemicals, nutrients and produces bile which helps break down fat.  The liver also filters the blood of any impurities.  This is why they call it the "live-er."  A fatty liver decreases the function of the liver.  It will make you feel weak, disrupt your concentration ability, and other problems will arise in your body.  A fatty liver is detected via simple blood tests.  Elevated enzymes found in the blood will indicate that the liver may have too much fat or is damaged.  Fortunately, fatty liver is reversible.  Diet and exercise will eventually restore the liver to its normal function.

Diet is probably the second "D" word people fear after the "D" word death.  We all love food.  Those yummy chips, cookies, cakes, twinkies; oh, that fried chicken, McDonald's hamburger or Burger King meal hits the spot.  Let me not forget the cannoli, pizzas, rice and beans, and pork chops.  Let me stop the temptations :-)
These foods all taste good, but too much of them is not good.  We all can live without them.

The foods we should eat are vegetables, fruits, fish, some meats, grains and dairy.  There are no vegetables or fruit on Earth that are bad for you.  These are sacred items that we should always eat.  I call them sacred because they keep us alive and healthy.  Fish is an excellent alternative to red meat.  It has nutrients that help brain development and is generally low in fat.

Lean meats are also good for the body, but should be eaten in moderation.  This means no huge drumsticks or ribs like Fred Flintstone likes.  Grains such has whole wheat bread should be eaten instead of white bread.  Low-fat dairy products must replace those high in fat.

If you are overweight and want to get into a healthy wealth, a diet is a must.  This does not mean that you have to starve yourself.  Instead of having a 2,000 calorie intake, lower it to 1,200.   By doing this, you are skipping 800 calories which will force the body to burn the fat you already have to make up for those missing calories.  The burning of fat equals weight lose.  When you add exercise to this, the results will come even faster.  You will burn the fat you have plus prevent any fat from even storing.  The human body is amazing right?

Exercise is another thing most of us hate.  Who likes to go to gym?  When we were kids we probably preferred gym over math, but as not so much.  Exercise is extremely important.  Our bodies are designed to work against gravity.  We can use this in order to maintain healthy bodies.  Exercise can be done anywhere.  One does not need to buy a gym membership.  A simple chair, a wall, sofa, even the floor can be used to do simple workouts that will bring about results.  One can even use a book, phone, water bottle as a weight.  Exercise helps keep the blood flowing.  It helps the heart and helps with the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the body.  There are many exercises that can be done.

In order to burn fat, one must do cardio - or exercises that get the heart rate going.  For those who are young, the heart rate for maximum burning is about 135.  The rate decreases as you age, so it is important that you keep your heart rate at the the right level depending on your age in order to avoid over stressing the heart.  In other words, a person who is 50-80 years old should not have a 135 heart rate while exercising.  A heart rate of 90-115 is suffice.  Cardio can be done with walking, jogging, running, swimming, dancing; basically any activity that gets your heart pounding.  One can walk around, jog or use a treadmill.  If a treadmill is too much in regards to impacts on joints, then an elliptical is best.  Elliptical's are excellent workout machines.  They are probably the best.   They workout the whole body and also keep your heart rate up.  Exercise programs such as Zumba or even video games such as Just Dance offer good cardio routines.  

Weigh training is important as well.  The more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn.  Muscles need energy to repair themselves and grow.  When we lift weights, this causes tiny tears in muscle tissue (pain/soreness).  Our muscles then absorb fat in order to repair those tears.  When muscles are repaired, they will become bigger and more toned. Weigh training might not be attractive for some, especially women who do not want to look manly, but it is important.  Light weights can prevent a women from looking like the Incredible Hulk.  Nevertheless, it is important that weight training be part of exercise especially if you want to lose weight and keep it off.

So it is possible to lose weight and be healthy.  Don't give up!  If you start now, by spring you will be a new person, physically speaking!


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