With summer a-coming, you may have gotten out your old swimsuit and tried it on. “Wow, I don’t remember it being this tight,” you may have said.
And you may have muttered those famous last words, “Eat less and exercise more.” That’s all it takes to shave those pounds off. That and a lot of self-discipline and routine. The Mayo Clinic Health Letter of recent issue devoted a whole edition to weight loss, tossing in all kinds of advice and information, including BMI (body mass index) and what it means to the dieter. This BMI calculator calculates your BMI by entering your height and weight. The BMI is meant to give you a general idea of what your weight should be for your height.
To lose weight one needs to know what it takes. Yes, eat less to lose weight. But how much and of what?
And exercise — how much and what kind? A holistic approach means looking a your values, what’s important to you in your life and the underlying drivers of your diet and exercise routine, if you have one, such as boredom, isolation and depression. Knowledge of these factors will last a lifetime. Your behavior patterns will have the biggest impact on whether you can maintain a healthy weight.
Before starting a weight loss routine, it’s important to ask yourself, what will motivate me to make me change my eating and exercise habits? You know being overweight is linked to significant health concerns, and that may be all the push you need. What if instead you think about the impact that extra weight can have on daily life? Maybe you want to live independently as you age, or stay active with your grandchildren. Whatever the motive, this is the fuel for a commitment to a lasting change.
Consider these facts:
On a scale of food, portion size, calories and minutes walking to balance the intake with a walk:
Candy bar, 2 ounces, calories 271, minutes walking to use it up: 48.
Apple, medium, calories 72, minutes walking: 13.
Vanilla ice cream, one cup, 274 calories, 48 minutes of walking.
Strawberries, one cup, 53 calories, 9 minutes of walking.
Glazed donut, medium, 239 calories, 42 minutes of walking.
Whole grain toast with jam, one slice, one tablespoon jam, 125 calories, 22 minutes of walking to balance.
These figures are for a 175-pound man. I was hoping for a similar report for a 2-ounce martini with a peel, but no such luck. I guess it would take 55 minutes of walking to use it up.
So which is the most important, diet or exercise? While diet plays a more important role in initial weight loss, exercise plays the major role in keeping pounds off and has other health benefits. It’s much easier to take in calories than to take them off. You may be able to eat a candy bar in a few minutes but it will take an hour of brisk walking to make up for the bar.
This is why exercise isn’t too effective in shedding pounds — it’s hard to keep with intake by exercise alone.
If you thought your intense workout routine means you didn’t have to monitor your diet or you thought calories alone are the best way to lose weight, think again. Diet and exercise play complementary roles in maintaining weight loss.
People tend to lost muscle and fat as they age, and the BMI scale tends to worsen as they age.
So how do you know you need to lose weight? Ask your doctor, consider your overall body weight, BMI, waist circumference, body composition, activity and energy levels and nutrition. You may want to stop weight gain, keep current levels and including a healthy diet that includes high-calorie food such as nuts, nut butters and dried fruits.
On a personal note, while teaching skiing at Heavenly, I weighed about 180 pounds and was 5 feet, 9 inches tall. Now I weigh in at 140 pounds and stand about 5 feet, 6 inches. I don’t think I need to lose weight, but I feel heavy and probably should lose 10 pounds.
How important is exercise? Very, I think, and I do at least an hour every morning and work on balance standing on one leg for 30 seconds and follow that with toe-to-heel touches as well.
Exercise can make major difference in lifestyles.
Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic or 75 minuted of vigorous aerobic exercise a week. Double that for extra benefits. Whatever level of exercise you commit to, try to make it fun, something you look forward to, not something you agonize over.
Keep in mind that pairing aerobic plus strength training tends to be the most effective way for reducing body weight, waist circumference, overall fat mass and belly fat.
Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.