“About 50 million men and 60 million women between 18 & 79 are ‘too fat’…”

Never in my wildest nightmares did I see myself worrying about being overweight, let alone counting calories. I always trusted that my being vegetarian would tame my weight with nary a struggle. Little did I know after bearing 6 children, with fatness encoded in my genes, that I would have a snowball’s chance in hell of wearing the same size today as in high school. Like they say, “we ain’t no spring chickens.” (By the way, ever seen a winter chicken?)

‘Tis a fact I tasted when I crossed the border past youth into gravity’s control, that fat becomes more attached to your body, so to speak, in later life. And, “new fats” come off easier than “pioneers”. Aurgh, the despicable things! So here I am, calorie counting, laying off the fats, working out, to effect a successful shedding of excess baggage…

But, why lose weight? Can’t we just let nature take its course and slide right through in corpulent bliss? Nope, because reality bites. These are the health-related correlates of obesity: 1) damage of cardiac function due to the heart’s mechanical overwork; 2) hypertension; 3) diabetes; 4) renal disease; 5) gallbladder disease; 6) pulmonary respiratory diseases; 7) problematic anesthetics during surgery (imagine the layers of fat they have to penetrate; 8) osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, and gout; 9) endometrial cancer; and 10) abnormal plasma lipid and lipoprotein concentrations. If that’s not enough to send you scrambling for the nearest diet book, consider this :

“About 50 million men and 60 million women between 18 & 79 are ‘too fat’ …excess weight….(translated into) a total of 1044 million kg of excess fat for the U.S. adult population …Translating this into fossil fuel energy and considering such factors as the energy required to plant, cultivate, harvest, feed, process, transport, wholesale, retail, acquire, store, and cook the food, the annual energy savings would be equal to that required to supply the residential electric demands of Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., or 1.3 billion gallons of gasoline to fuel 900,000 autos per year.”

—The Energy Cost of Overweight in the U.S.; Tannon, B.M. & Lohman,T.G. Whew! Here’s more you can relate to: large sizes are more expensive, lean makes you look and feel better, and you’ll never hear the end of your kids’ wisecracks on your occupying more than your fair share of space in this planet.

Now that you know some pretty good reasons to keep your weight in good count, don’t jump too quickly on the first diet program you set your eyes on. Some basic things you should know: If it sounds too good to be true, it doesn’t work. Instant weight-off is a myth, a scam, a health risk. It’s never good to lose weight too radically because it doesn’t give your body enough time to re-program its metabolism-it freaks out the internal organs. Plus, bad habits die hard-thus, the dieting roller-coaster. The safest weight loss you can count on is from 1-2 lbs per week. (More is definitely workable but needs careful professional monitoring.) This means the obese may take years rather than months to lose weight but definitely, it’ll be more lasting.

Simply remember when trying to lose (or gain) weight:

energy input (in the form of calories) = energy output (in the form of motion) à stable body wt.

energy input > energy output à increase in body wt.
energy input > energy output à decrease in body wt.

(note : 3500 cal = 1 pound) To “unbalance” the energy balance equation: 1) eat less than the prescribed daily caloric intake; 2)

maintain regular food intake while increasing physical activity above daily energy requirements; and 3) [the best] is to combine methods 1) & 2). Caloric value of carbos and proteins are about half that of fats; therefore, to reduce fats drastically means to lessen a great deal of unwanted calories. Cut down if not exclude animal fats and foods from your daily fare; boil, steam or broil instead of fry (125 cal/ Tbsp of oil); get physical–take walks with your kids, cycle, take a boat ride, fly a kite, climb to your 26th-floor office, change a flat tire, swim the Atlantic…

On a sober note: one of the main causes of obesity is overeating. It’s been said that overeating is directly linked with spiritual starvation (more on that at another time). In the meantime, eat simply (and only enough), live simply and the fats will stay thin.

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