Ironically, if the "almost three out of four Americans (73 percent)" did give up television and computers (like they say they are willing to do) in exchange for a flat tummy; they would likely attain the "flat tummy". If you aren't sitting in front of the TV or computer, you'd be doing something that burns more calories.
That begs the question,
What would you do to lose weight?
A couple weeks ago, someone wrote a diary about "fat people killing our planet" and we were then "entertained" with the onslaught of competing diaries arguing for their slice of the phat pie (physically healthy and toned). As I had just started really focusing on losing weight; it gave me food for thought. I loved the anger, passion and assumptions in those diaries. There was a lot to both disagree and agree with, but in the final analysis; What's with the food and fitness police? Why are we obsessed with counting other people's calories? Why do we think we should judge everyone's fitness levels? Why should we assume an obese person can't move their bulk? Why do we assume a skinny person can run a mile without keeling over?
All right, I hear your concerns. It's true that if we eliminate obesity, we'd save $140 billion in health care spending - maybe more. Two problems, we're not likely to totally eliminate obesity and $140 b is only about 5% of the total US health care expenditures. (If you really want to reduce health expenditures, you'll not only put some teeth into MLR regulation; but you'll take on fee for service reimbursements and put together some evidence and acuity based utilization standards.)
$140 billion is worth saving, it's just that forced weight loss and forced fitness with unmotivated patients just doesn't sound like a winner. Not only would it be a Big Brother approach that would be resented, but it would lead to yo yo weight loss/gain that frustrates the dieter. Our health care system needs to do a better job at promoting healthy weight, exercise and nutrition, it's just that those diaries really highlighted why the food and fitness police state would suck.
Personal fitness is, well, personal. Do we really want to relive the embarrassing experiences many of us had in high school gym and health class? Surely, we can do better.
PHAT or just thin?
Healthy is more than looks. Some years ago, my friend's grandmother passed away. This lady was a lot of fun to have around. She was well read, a good conversationalist and laid back. She was thin, but she died prematurely. She didn't exercise and she didn't change her lifestyle to accommodate her health problems. She wasn't overweight, so her doctors thought she was fit. She didn't drink a lot of alcohol, but what she did eat and drink was high fat, real sugar, low fiber; but small portions. Of course, she wouldn't consider raising a sweat or putting down the cigarette. She did leave a good looking corpse for her age. I guess you can have a pretty good looking shell, but looking healthy and being healthy are two different things.
We are willing to spend a lot of money to lose weight
The United States spends $33 billion per year to get thin. Yet, the Nutrisystem survey said 20% would forgo a promotion to lose weight, which makes no sense if you're going to spend $260 a month on prepackaged meal plans to do it. We spend money on doctors drugs and specialized foods to launch our weight loss plan, but we aren't willing to do what it takes to land the weight loss plane.
We continue to look for the magic weight loss pill or gadget, the quintessential device or supplement that will let us lose 50 pounds without effort in record time (for a price). We want instant weight loss gratification, but we don't want to give up or modify the foods we love.
The truth is that the real weight loss solution is truly within us. The reality of weight loss is that it takes time. You probably took a few years to pack on the 40 pounds, so it's likely to take a year or more to lose it. We don't have to go anywhere, spend extra money on people telling us about any "break through" principle or product. We don't have to order special food from anybody. Just pick up the food, turn it over and read the label; then decide for yourself, if it's a good idea to eat it.
Seriously, the only thing you need beside commitment to a healthier lifestyle, is a set of measuring spoons a measuring cup and a small food scale. You probably already have the spoons and cup, so all you need to do is spring for a food scale (usually under $15 in housewares). A Consumer Reports survey showed that the most successful dieters, who kept it off for more than 3 years, do it on their own. The NEJM published a study that says what diet you use doesn't really matter so much as sticking with it does.
A BMI calculator will tell you if you are at a healthy weight.
A BMR calculator will tell you how many calories you'll burn in a day for your activity level.
You want to figure out what you need to eat to burn 500-800 calories a day more than you eat. That will promote a weight loss of 1 - 1 1/2 pounds per week. Try to lose more and you risk falling off the wagon. I can give no advice on how to gain weight as I can do that with no trouble at all. I'm aware that this can be a problem for some people, but I can't imagine what it's like.
If you need help, this site is helpful in that it's accurate and has a supportive community. You can join, or not. If you join it will suggest a plan for you. You log your food or just use the calorie counter. It tells you what you are burning through the activities log. It's the least expensive method I've found and the more I use it, the smarter I get with food prep and meal planning. You eat what you want and the site calculates the damage. Over the weeks I've moved toward eating what I like, but naturally gravatating toward healtier fare. At least my family now knows why I'm forever pushing the fruits and vegetables (or slipping in a 1/4 cup of quinoa in with the rice).
Most of us know what we need to eat to be healthy, but the government sites are helpful in providing a nutritional basis for meal planning without the biased hype. The grapefruit diet, the hot dog diet or skinny bitch just seems too limited to me; so maybe looking at what our tax dollars came up with is worth a look.
What we willing to do for Exercise
According to the survey only 35% of respondents had a healthy lifestyle. That would mean they eat carefully and exercise regularly. What exercise is good? That would be the exercise program you actually do. We are less likely to spend on expensive gym memberships than on dieting, but only 1/3rd less. We spend over $21 billion annually on exercise stuff. There is a lot of advice out there telling business how to sell a svelte body to get you to part with your money.
How much we spend on exercise and how much time we invest in actually doing exercise seems to be diametrically opposed. Strangely enough getting out of those expensive gym fees might be more of an exercise than actually attending the gym. It doesn't matter what you do, walking, weight training, exercise DVD's, yoga, the latest fad or whatever - you burn more calories moving around than you do sitting down. There's a lot of free stuff out there and there's no reason why you shouldn't check out what your library has to offer.
and, now I digress....
Instead of asking "What would you do to lose weight?" Maybe we should ask, "What would you do for four Hershey's kisses?" wink, wink
The one finding in the nutrisystem survey that gave me a chuckle was that over 50% of women and 25% of men said they would give up sex for a summer to lose weight. That would be counterproductive. If you have sex, you'll burn more calories than you would by abstaining, sitting around watching the teevee eating Chubby Hubby ice cream. Yep, about 7 calories for every 5 minutes of fun (according to Newsweek) or 4 calories a minute by this scale or (I liked this one the best) 300 calories an hour....ok vigorous sex for 8 hours a week burns 300 calories per session x 8 = 2,400 calories or 2/3 of a pound (sigh), but there are side benefits to the sex weight loss program.
Hey, baby, there's a great game on in the bedroom. Ya gotta see it! Woo! Hoo! Then, there's other considerations for the sex weight loss program... Maybe, I should not go there. Oh, live a little, (enjoy the grins).