Resolve to develop a healthier lifestyle this year


Published: Thursday, January 12, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 2:00 p.m.

It is so easy for some folk to gain weight. I don't know about you, but surely I have earned a doctorate degree in this department. It's not a fact that I am proud of, and I know that if wishing would solve my problem, I would be a very thin person. Wishing without work, seldom if ever, yields results.

Although I fought the urge to do this, I am going to "weigh in" on the topic of New Year's resolutions.

By now, you have probably read a few articles, listened to a few talk shows and heard your friends or colleagues discuss their plans to change.

Well, this is as good a time as any to begin to take charge of your health and lose weight. Therefore, I feel justified in jumping on the bandwagon with this column.

Although the trend toward accepting yourself at whatever weight you happen to be is growing, the impact that weight has on our state of health is serious. I am convinced that cosmetics play a much more serious role in some of our lives than others.

The impact that extra pounds have on our bodies is far more serious than cosmetics. With this in mind, maybe you will join with me in making a resolution to lead a better lifestyle in 2006.

In so doing, we will vow to exercise more, develop healthier eating habits and take more time to relax. My challenge to you is that you have a talk with your health care provider, share your resolution to do the three things listed above and get started now. In 2007, we will be doing so well we will only need to resolve to continue with our 2006 plan.

When I hear someone say, I'm going on a diet, I generally recall my dieting experiences. I have successfully dieted all of my adult life. I have also successfully gained all of the weight plus more, each time. Therefore, my new outlook has to do with changing my lifestyle.

I can no longer polish off a bag of chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies with a glass of milk while sitting on the couch in front of the TV watching Dr. Phil or Oprah. I admit the cookies were great. Having one or two cookies once a week is much more realistic for me if I am looking at a lifestyle change.

On some of the diets that I have tried in the past, I couldn't have the cookie. Knowing this would drive me crazy.

As soon as the diet ended, out came the cookies; yes, the whole bag. I deserved every one of them. Guess what, a minute on the lips, forever on the hips.

It is hard to think of changing eating habits. We grew up celebrating around food. I can't remember any of my friends saying, "boy, we're eating at Grandma's house and we're having a big green salad with low-fat dressing, boiled eggs, with delicious oranges and grapefruit slices for dessert. A far cry from what we actually had. I am not condemning the food at the family gatherings. Our cuisine has history.

Generations have kept the family recipes alive and well. But we really have to consider that when our forefathers, who ate the favorites we are enjoying now, had a more active lifestyle.

They were farmers and laborers who broke a sweat in the course of a day. They burned the fat as they took it in so it did not become stored fat at the rate that we are seeing now.

I am a strong supporter of family gatherings. We need the time together. We just have to admit that our family's health is suffering because of weight. Take a look at who is sitting around your table.

Many health care providers today evaluate their patients by looking at Body Mass Index, or BMI. They determine if you are overweight, obese or morbidly obese. An ideal BMI is one that is between 20 and 25. Therefore, the first diagnosis, being overweight, occurs when a person has a BMI between 25 and 29.9.

Obesity occurs when the BMI is between 30 and 40. Morbid obesity, the most serious of the three categories, occurs when the BMI is 40 and beyond, which is about 100 pounds above ideal weight, according to the Obesity Action Coalition Web site.

To calculate your own BMI, go to the Internet and type BMI in the search mode. A site will come up that asks for your weight in pounds and your height in feet and inches, and then the calculation will be made for you, or I am sure you can get your health care provider to look at their chart for you.

Why is our nation so focused on weight? The pounds we put on directly affect the state of our health. According to the Obesity Action Coalition, one of the most prevalent conditions affected by weight gain is diabetes.

Of those persons diagnosed with Type II diabetes (non-insulin dependent), 67 percent have a BMI greater than 27 and 46 percent have a BMI greater than 30.

With nearly 17 million people in the United States with Type II diabetes, 90 percent of the Type II diabetics have BMIs that are above ideal weight.

Other conditions related to weight are heart disease, high cholesterol, gallbladder disease, heartburn, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, psychological depression, sleep apnea and stroke.

By the way, I made the resolution to have a major lifestyle change last year. I am happy to report my success and would love to know if you are going to join me this year. I am not at my ideal BMI, but I am down quite a bit and have enjoyed the year.

Next January, I would love to print your results along with mine.

Vivian Filer is a retired professor of nursing, Santa Fe Community College.

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