Sunday, 4 May 2008

Fit and Fat--A debate laid to rest?

A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine may have settled the medical debate as to whether people carrying excess body fat can maintain completely fit and healthy bodies through proper exercise. According to the study, exercise did not completely eliminate the risks of heart disease caused by the excess fat on the body. Although being active does lower a person's risk, the study found that people of a normal weight who were active had the lowest risk of all.

Essentially, every active individual is at less risk for heart disease than inactive individuals, however, excess weight also contributes to overall health. Becoming physically fit is important for all functions of the body, but carrying around extra weight, especially in the midsection, can hinder a person's overall progress.

Say you're fit, but the weight hasn't seemed to come off like you thought it would. You've minded your calories and deprived yourself of chips, chocolate, or a pint at the local pub with friends. What can you do to help trim off the excess?

Experts say that keeping a food diary is an important and simple tool in weight loss. Whether it's a handwritten journal or wall calendar or a trendy new website, a food diary keeps people "honest", and, when people visually see what and how many calories they are eating, it helps to keep mindless snacking to a minimum. Sometimes we take in more calories than we realise, and writing it down keeps it all under control.

Watching portion sizes and measuring food can work well for some. If pulling out the measuring cups seems too tedious, there are plenty of handy tips and tricks available online for eyeballing portions. Strict measuring is always a good, safe bet, however, considering that when we are hungry, our eyeballs seem to see less food than there is on the plate!

A good rule to live by for weight loss is to figure out how many calories you need to eat per day to get to your goal weight. Subtract that from what you currently take in. Half of the difference should be dropped from your caloric intake, and half of it should be burned off in exercise. So, say you have 500 calories to drop. Take 250 off your diet, and find extra activities each day to burn off the rest, whether it's a long walk in the evening, a brief yoga or pilates session, or some power squats, lunges and situps before bed. Make the most of your day by getting off the tube or bus one stop before your normal one, or biking or walking to closer destinations instead of taking public transport or a car. Find something physical to do at weekends that you enjoy to get rid of those extra unhealthy calories for good!

A doctor once told me, "Eat half of what you think you should eat, exercise regularly, and forget about it." In it's simplified way, it's good advice. Don't sweat small stuff, just sweat, and enjoy it!

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