Ready or not, the summer season begins on in about two months, the twenty-first of June. Millions of people are rushing to be in "swimsuit ready" condition, and are thirsting for anything that will produce results. With the onset of summer getting closer, the media will undoubtedly focus their attention on our national obsession with weight loss. This obsession with weight manifests itself in lunchtime, and social gathering conversations analyzing the latest weight loss gimmicks or discussing who has recently lost or gained weight. Try as you may to avoid it, constant reminders on television, radio, and magazine headlines will seek you out and deliver their message.
The Media Portrayal
This growing epidemic is fueled by our obsession with media portrayed images of thinness. Weight loss is a culturally fueled multi-billion dollar industry supported by the 40% of women and 25% of men who are trying to lose weight at any given time. Unfortunately, this awareness has not resulted in a reduction of our weight as a nation.
The incidence of obesity is rising, with one-third of all Americans being obese, as compared to one-fourth just a decade ago. The high failure rate is indicative of the misinformation surrounding, and intense cultural focus placed on weight loss. The ISSA believes in drawing individuals into the fitness lifestyle, emphasizing lifestyle change and knowledge of the principles of exercise over quick-fix weight loss solutions that do not promote long-term benefits. Focusing in on a lifestyle change parallels the Surgeon General's Report on physical activity and health recommendation that every American should accumulate a moderate amount of activity over the course of most days of the week. Let's look at some of the factors involved in effective weight loss.
Weight loss should be viewed as the relationship between the total energy cost of exercise and activity as it relates to an individual's overall caloric intake. Obesity is due to a wide variety of factors including genetic, metabolic, cultural, socioeconomic, and psychological. Being so, there are several considerations we must account for when attempting to lose weight.
Considerations When Attempting To Lose Weight
- Gradual weight loss ensures maximum fat loss and preservation of lean tissue. Rapid weight loss can result in a high ratio of lean body mass to fat weight lost during the diet.
- The caloric deficit of 3500 calories from an individuals weekly caloric intake will result in one pound of fat loss. The maximal recommended rate of fat loss is approximately 1% of body weight per week. Faster rates can lead to dehydration, loss of lean tissue and decreased vitamin and mineral status.
- Caloric intake of no less than 1800 to 2000 calories per day can serve as a starting point, with calories added or subtracted based on progress.
- The diet should be composed of primarily nutrient dense foods. Nutrient density refers to the nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals) present per calorie of food. A plain baked potato is more nutrient dense than potato chips.
- The diet should be composed of food low in energy density. Energy density refers to the calories per weight or volume of food. These are foods that can be eaten in large portions without consuming excess calories. This can help reduce hunger and lower caloric intake. Examples of foods low in energy density are vegetables, salad greens, broth-based foods, and fruits. In general, foods with low energy density contain a high proportion of water and fiber.
- The diet should be nutritionally balanced and provide a variety of foods as recommended through the USDA food guide pyramid.
Taking into account these considerations will help an individual design a safe and effective plan for weight loss. Although summer is just around the corner, there is no better time then the present to draw into the fitness lifestyle. The ISSA hopes that you take this time to do so.