10 Surprising Facts About Weight Management and Health

  • ONE: Exercise is good for you no matter your size. Exercise (even at a very low intensity) can help prolong your life.  Even as little as 75 minutes of low intensity exercise per week is enough to extend a person’s life by about 1.8 years. The best part is that this is true for people of “normal” weight, those who are technically labeled “overweight” and those who were ranked “obese” according to BMI scales. Admittedly, those who were both normal weight and active seemed to yield the best results. But only marginally so. In other words – you can be “fit” at any size….and it’s that fitness that is really helping to dictate your life expectancy. Not your weight in and of itself.

 

  • TWO: Skinny people don’t necessarily live longer. If your definition of health is in any way linked with longevity…you may be interested to know that there is some evidence suggesting those who are considered “overweight” (according to the BMI scale) are noted to live statistically longer than those in all other categories INCLUDING those who are at a “normal” weight. Those who summarized the findings did say that it didn’t necessarily mean all the researchers wanted to encourage people to go out and gain weight. BUT – it did prove that using a height-to-weight ratio as a primary marker to assess a person’s health is pretty flawed.

 

  • THREE: It is entirely possible to appear thin on the outside, but still be metabolically obese on the inside. The new acronym used for this is “TOFI” (Thin on the Outside; Fat on the Inside). Researchers actually report that these folks are at the highest risk, because there are no external cues letting the individual know that they may need to be more conscientious about their habits. Doctors aren’t likely to hassle them. AND – the fat that is being deposited is hiding around vital organs. In other words? The scale isn’t actually the best barometer for overall health.

 

  • FOUR: It is also entirely possible to be marked as “obese” externally but still be metabolically fit internally. They are categorized as in a subgroup called “metabolically healthy obesity.”If you’re exercising, eating fruits and vegetables, sleeping and managing your stress…in all likelihood, you’re in good shape irrespective of your size. If you really want to find out to be sure? Well…get a blood test. If you’re biometric markers are in line, then you are metabolically fit.

 

  • FIVE: Whether you want to live longer OR lose weight and keep it off…it’s an hour a day that keeps the weight re-gain AND doctor away.  The “Sweet Spot” amount of exercise that helps people live longer is about 450 minutes per week. To be clear…ANY exercise is SIGNIFICANTLY better than none at all. So don’t be intimidated out of exercise by that number. I’m just relaying the optimal amount for a long and healthy life. But here is something kind of interesting…450 minutes per week (or a little over an hour per day) is also the amount of exercise that it required to sustain weight loss, long term, once someone has lost weight (at least according to the National Weight Loss Control Registry.) Don’t worry…these aren’t marathon runners we are talking about. In BOTH cases (those who wanted to live longer, and those who wanted to sustain weight loss) the primary form of exercise utilized was and is moderate walking.

 

  • SIX: Adding fresh sources of fiber to your diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes) can help you lose weight AND help you live longer. No matter what diet you may have stumbled onto – one thing just about ALL nutrition approaches have in common is a shared love of fruits of and vegetables (vegetables most especially, and green vegetables in particular). Want to know what will “ramp up your metabolism” and “help you live longer” and “clear up your skin?” Sorry bro…it’s not the latest tropical super fat or that specialized supplement brought out by Dr. I Know Everything. It’s vegetables. Period.

 

 

  • EIGHT: Whether you want to be healthy, or lose weight…most people seem to be in agreement. Eat breakfast! According to the National Weight Loss Control Registry, 78 percent of those who lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off ate breakfast regularly. Interestingly, in the realm of health…a 2013 study also showed that skipping breakfast was associated with a higher rate of heart disease risk. To be fair – a lot of this is correlation rather than causation. But think about it…how much better are your food choices for the rest of the day when you make a point to eat a healthy breakfast relative to those days when you omit it or eat something sugary? Just sayin….EAT BREAKFAST.

 

  • NINE: It’s just as important to “not sit” for long periods of time as it is to “exercise rigorously” for a workout. People who lose weight and keep it off don’t just exercise. They ALSO make it a point to not sit for long periods of time. It turns out getting out of your chair not only helps burn calories. It also helps with overall health and longevity. If you can’t get up and move from your desk? Fidget! According to those interviewed in this NY Times article, fidgeting is good for your health. Basically the bottom line is: to start behaving the way you intuitively behaved when you were a kid.

 

  • TEN: Yo-yo dieting is bad. Period. Rather than being helpful for health…yo-yo dieting actually seems to promote long term weight gain. This is ESPECIALLY true for adolescents. So while it may be counter-intuitive – if you want to lose weight and keep it off, strict dieting that is NOT sustainable and does not include a focus on long term behavior change can actually make you gain weight. If you do want to lose weight and do it successfully, you want to be sure you find a program that is evidence-based. And you might be interested to note…the very same focus points that such programs focus on (ie habits around tracking food, moderating consumption of foods, having support for making those changes, etc.) are also helpful with health in general.  In other words – the common link between someone who successfully loses weight AND someone who successfully remains healthy is that both parties have support for making the necessary changes and STICKING to those changes.

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