Tag Archives: Weight loss

Normal weight obesity and cardiovascular risk

10 Oct
English: "Love handles" are made up ...

English: “Love handles” are made up of excess fat around hips. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new study from the Mayo clinic has shown a strong correlation between normal weight obesity and increased risk of illness or death from cardiovascular problems.  Surprisingly, they even found that the normal weight obesity posed an even higher risk than generalized obesity.

What?  How can someone be normal weight and obese at the same time?

There are a couple ways of defining it.  In this particular study researchers defined normal weight obesity as having an increased waist to hip ratio – in other words, the people had a large belly but were relatively thin otherwise.  Others have defined normal weight obesity as a situation in which your percentage of body fat is increased, as in a person with little muscle mass but increased fat tissue, although their weight is still within normal limits.

Another surprising finding is that people whose weight puts them in the obese category may not be at increased risk if they carry the majority of their fat tissue in their legs and hips.  They even said this may have a protective effect.

The Heart & Stroke Foundation has published healthy waist circumference guidelines.  You are at increased cardiovascular risk if your waist measures larger than:

80 centimetres or 31.5” (Chinese & South Asian women)

89 centimetres or 35” (Women & Chinese/South Asian men)

101 centimetres or 40” (men)

So, what should you do to reduce your risk?

  1. Keep active!  The more active you are the more calories you burn and therefore the less you are likely to weigh overall.  If you incorporate some muscle building activity into your routine you will be even better off since research has found increased muscle tissue has a beneficial effect on your cardiovascular health.  You can build muscle by doing exercises that include some form of resistance.  Some examples are lifting weights or using elastic exercise bands.  Using your own body as resistance works too, like when you do push-ups for example.  Doing some serious yard or house work can give you a work out too.
  2. Eat sensibly!  Include protein, vegetables, fruits and whole grains in your diet daily.  A little bit of fat is good too, but too much fat and the wrong kinds of fat can be a problem.  Highly processed foods and sugars should be avoided.  One easy way to make sure you’re choosing healthy foods at the grocery store is by shopping the perimeter of the store.  Most grocery stores are arranged so the fresh fruits, veggies, milk/dairy, meats and fish are on the perimeter with the more processed foods in the centre aisles of the store.  One rule of thumb that I often turn to is – if my Great Grandmother would not recognize the ingredients on a food package, I should probably avoid it, or at least limit its use.

Another thing to keep in mind – the experts agree you really can’t spot reduce.  You can’t get rid of the fat on your belly just by doing lots of crunches.  You need to keep working towards a healthy weight, waist circumference, and muscle to fat ratio by staying on track with your diet & exercise in a general way.

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The more you do – the more you can do!

24 Aug
Exercise calisthenics #2

Exercise calisthenics #2 (Photo credit: Ed Yourdon)

And the more you want to do which equals increased wellness for you!

The saying use it or lose it is for real.  If you are not doing regular physical activity, your muscles will not develop, in fact, they can atrophy.  This means they actually shrink!

I have seen very ill patients loose increasing amounts of muscle tissue after a few weeks of bedrest.  Fortunately most of us get up and walk around the house at the very least, so we don’t experience that degree of atrophy but we do lose some muscle if we are not active.

The less muscle you have, the more difficult it is for you to do the physical activities you want to do.  You may find even mild activity tiring.

Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue.  The less muscle tissue you have, the more difficult it is for you to burn calories.

If you are a couch potato and you want to increase your activity levels and your muscle tone, start small.  Don’t go straight for the 5 mile run after 5 years of relative inactivity.  You will feel horrible, probably both during and for at least a day or two after.

Start with something a little more manageable.  Do something that will leave you feeling invigorated but not exhausted.  You want to feel like you’ve succeeded, that way you will not mind doing it again in a day or two.  You might want to start with a short walk.  After a few days increase your distance a little.  Keep increasing gradually as your tolerence and your muscles increase.

The same goes for weight lifting.  Just because you could use 30 lb dumbells to do arm curls back in the day does not mean you can pick up where you left off.  If it’s been a while since you last hit the gym you may have to cut back a little or maybe even a lot.  Start low and gradually increase as you regain your tone.

Whatever activity you choose to do, the more you do it the more you will be able to do it – and many other things.  And forget about trying to get away with the I’m getting old excuse.  Check out Winnipeg’s Jaring Timmerman for some inspiration.

You can do it, just get started.  Better to do a little than none at all and before you know it you’ll be able to do more and more!

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