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7 Aug
2014
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Do You really Need to Lose Weight?

Most overweight people want to lose weight to help them look better. The TV and billboards, subliminally and through association, suggest that the slimmer you are the more attractive you are, and consequently, the greater your success in life.

All absolute nonsense of course.

But the images are powerful; the hidden messages are powerful; and the fears are powerful.

There is nothing wrong with feeling good and looking good.

But it isn’t worth making a career out of it and spending your whole life fighting how you look.

There is this thing called a set-point. This is the weight your body thinks it should be. If your weight is over your set-point it is not too difficult to restore it to normal, but it is a real struggle to keep your weight below that point. It used to be thought that the set point was stable, but it isn’t. If you keep yourself overweight for any length of time your set-point will move upwards. So if you’ve been overweight for many years, then reducing your weight may well be much more difficult for you to achieve than if you have only been overweight for a relatively short period of time.

Of course, if you are prepared for the additional difficulty and can maintain your weight below the set-point, your set-point will eventually reset to the lower weight and you will then find it much easier to maintain that weight.

Your set-point is that weight that your body naturally assumes when you are eating a normal healthy diet, satisfying your hunger, but not overeating.

My feeling about the perfect bodyweight is that if you can bend over comfortably and your stomach doesn’t get in the way you are probably okay. Not everyone is built the same. There are different body shapes and since changing your body shape is pretty much impossible, stop trying to be something you aren’t. Be yourself at a comfortable, healthy weight and be happy with that.

Another problem you have to deal with is the medical world’s take on being fat.

If you are overweight your doctor will almost certainly encourage you to lose weight for health reasons. They may even tell you about all of the diseases that you are likely to enjoy from being overweight – including the early death you are likely to experience as a result of heart disease or one of several other weight related complications.

Recent research has shown an interesting connection between the length of your life and your weight. It seems that, under certain conditions, being overweight doesn’t kill you any sooner than being a normal weight. Obesity is a different problem. Obesity does shorten your life unless you do one thing.

If you aren’t sure about the difference between being obese and being overweight then go here and at the top right of the page I’ve provided a little calculator where you can enter your weight in pounds (lbs), and your height, and it will tell you whether or not you are obese.

So what are the conditions that allow you to be overweight and still have a normal life expectancy?

It seems that there are four factors that influence this.

  1. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables
  2. Exercising at least three times a week
  3. Not smoking
  4. Drinking alcohol in moderation

If you are overweight then doing just one of these pulls your life expectancy into the same range as normal weight people.

If you are obese then the one thing you need to do is all four of the above in order to bring your life expectancy into the same range as normal weight people.

The important thing to get here is that you can be overweight, or obese and still have a normal life-expectancy.

Does this mean that I’m encouraging you to be overweight?

No.

My encouragement is always to eat when you are hungry and stop when you feel full. My recommendation is always to eat a little less and exercise a little more.

But I see so many people who are miserable because of the continuous battle they are in with their bodies. Move towards being reasonably fit; move towards a diet containing fresh fruits and vegetables rather than pre-packaged meals; and move towards listening to your body – it will tell you when it needs food and it will tell you when you’ve had sufficient.

You don’t need restrictive diet plans or calorie counting that makes you think about food all day long. You don’t need to join a club which encourages you to see yourself as someone with a problem that needs fixing – a problem for which they have the perfect solution. But most importantly you don’t need to beat yourself up.

Just decide that you will add a little more fresh fruit and veg to your meals and eat a little less of the sweet fatty foods you normally eat. Plan a little more exercise and decide that you need to look after you body rather than abuse it.

And on those occasions when you find yourself eating a cream cake or a chocolate bar or a bag of crisps – so what. Just remind yourself of your intention to eat a little healthier and ask yourself if it is helping you to achieve this – then do whatever feels most appropriate.

Losing weight is only a battle if you make it one.

Be gentle with you, always.

 

 

Inspired by, and some research data from:
https://www.ted.com/talks/sandra_aamodt_why_dieting_doesn_t_usually_work#t-500623

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