October 6, 2010

Is it Health or Looking Good Naked?

Since I can remember, I have been asked how to loose fat, how to get toned, how to lean-up, and how to get healthier (seriously, strangers at parties will offer personal information to me with hopes of getting the answer to weight loss).  For most people, the motivation has always been for their health. However, knowing what we know about being fat and fit...and if you don't...research suggests that one can be fat (and even obese) and - if they are physically active - they can be healthier than the sedentary thin person., is what we are doing for the health of it....or for something else?

Let's face it, we all want to look good. The problem is, the prescription for health is not the same as the prescription for looking good. Case in point..."Carol" is a 42 year old who has gained 30 pounds over the course of 10 years. She comes to me because she wants to loose weight and get fit. Her doctor has told her that she has borderline high blood pressure so she is in my office.  If Carol was interested in becoming healthier, I would recommend the following changes...

Exercise: Walking 30 minutes after work followed by a series of stretches. Perhaps adding a few days overtime and, if that goes well, additional time. However, if Carol didn't have the time, she could always "live actively" for the same benefits. She could walk to the store, park away from the mall, take the stairs..the usual stuff you see in those corny adds for physical activity.
Diet:  Carol could try to eliminate some of the more processed foods in her diet, add more vegetables over time, and reduce serving sizes slowly. The good news is, she could keep the red wine and chocolate and enjoy the "fun" foods in moderation.

However, if Carol wanted to drop the weight and look good naked (hold onto your hat) this is what I would suggest - overtime of course...

Exercise: Working up to 5 days per week, Carol would perform 60 minutes of moderate to high intensity cardio followed by resistance training for her major muscle groups couples with a stretch.

Diet: Carol would have to eliminate the processed foods focusing on whole, healthful foods including a diet predominantly based on vegetables (as suggested by the Canada's Food Guide). She would hold back the wine drinking for one or two nights per week and only one or two glasses at most. She would have to skip the chocolate and "fun" foods and opt for fruit or other healthy options.

The challenge with the second prescription is the challenge itself. Making changes like that takes time and a plate load of motivation. Most times, people are not ready for the hard work and committment neccessary to achieve this result.  They usually drop out of the program altogether and go back to old behaviours.

So my message today is consideration.  Consider what you are willing to do in the name of health and good looks (I'm sure you are already waaaaay too good looking now). The health approach to change is a good one, in itself, and will bring you many benefits. It is balanced and allows for enjoyment of all foods. There is nothing wrong with the second option, just be aware of it's challenge. You must be ready for this change or it won't work.

Speaking of food....I am going to tackle my first turkey this Thanksgiving weekend. I'm completely intimidated and scared. I promise to take pictures and share my experiences (as therapy). If you have any advice you can share now...I would appreicate hearing it.

That's all I got...

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