Is There Such Thing As Normal Weight Obesity?

By Abdelhafid Boukraa

Even if standard charts say your weight is correct for your height, you could still be considered obese. Excess body fat affects your health much like extra pounds. Find out more about normal weight obesity and how you can overcome it.


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Here Are Some Important Facts About Normal Weight Obesity

  1. Follow the history. A study by the Mayo Clinic in 2008 coined the term "normal weight obesity" to describe people with high body fat, but normal weight. Researchers confirmed what some experts had suspected for years. These individuals can experience the same health issues as those who are overweight.
  2. Know the prevalence. The study also showed how widespread the condition is. Almost 30 million Americans are believed to be skinny fat.
  3. Measure your body fat. There is some debate about the exact guidelines. Most doctors advise keeping body fat under 20% of your weight for men and 30% for women. If you want to be fit, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests that women aim for 21% to 24% and men aim for 14% to 17%.
  4. Understand the impact. Those with normal weight obesity can have the same health issues as individuals with regular obesity. There is a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and issues with cholesterol.

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How To Protect Yourself From Normal Weight Obesity?

  1. Eat a balanced diet. Even though you need additional strategies to overcome normal weight obesity, avoiding excess calories is very important. Eat a variety of nutritious foods, including fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
  2. Focus on healthy fats. You still need some fat in your diet since it's an essential nutrient. Select healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel. Get about 30% of your calories from these sources.
  3. Train for strength. Building up your muscle mass is the best defense for normal weight obesity. A lean body burns more calories, even when you're at rest. Schedule a few strength training sessions each week. Work out with weights or participate in any kind of resistance training.
  4. Do aerobics. Cardiovascular exercise is part of the approach. You'll be strengthening your heart and burning calories at the same time. Walk each day or go for a run. Play tennis or sign up for a dance class.
  5. Trim your waistline. Belly fat is the most visible sign of normal weight obesity. You can use Pilates and other movements to tone your abdomen while you lose weight.

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  7. Get adequate sleep. Adequate amounts of good quality sleep boost your metabolism. That makes it easier to prevent obesity and the chronic inflammation that comes along with it.
  8. Consider your age. As we age, it's natural for our bodies to lose muscle. Our bones thin and body fat increases. You can slow down the effects of the aging process by staying active and eating less.
  9. Visit a health club. Normal weight obesity is a relatively new concept, so fitness centers and personal trainers may be ahead of some doctors in this area. Many gyms will take your body fat measurements during orientation, and then design a custom fitness program just for you.
  10. See your doctor. Your doctor can help you come up with a program to manage your weight and reduce your body fat. If you're sedentary and have significant belly fat, ask about doing more precise tests like bioelectric impedance or BOD POD air displacement. They are both quick and painless.

Pay attention to the composition of your body along with your weight.

Watching your body fat is just as important as watching the scale. Staying fit will help you enjoy a longer, fuller, happier, and healthier life.



Can You Play Safe With Artificial Sweeteners

By Maegan Ross

Millions of Americans count on artificial sweeteners to help them cut back on calories. However, there are conflicting reports about these sugar substitutes' effectiveness and safety.

To help you make the best choices for you and your family, here are some things you should know.

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Understanding the Facts About Artificial Sweeteners

  1. Consider using Stevia. This natural herbal ingredient is classified as a dietary supplement rather than an artificial sweetener. While the FDA hasn't approved Stevia as a sweetener, the plant itself has been used for centuries in South America and Japan.
  2. Stay up to date on research. With so many of these substances in widespread use, they're constantly in testing. There's always something new to learn about them, and sometimes experimental results are surprising.
  3. A recent trial by the University of Texas found that diet soft drink users experienced 70 percent greater increases in waist circumference compared with non-users.

    A related study also found that aspartame raised blood sugar in diabetesprone mice.

  4. Artificial sweeteners may alter your body's natural signals. Some studies suggest that sugar substitutes may confuse our bodies. Throughout most of human history, we could usually count on sweet foods to be heavy eating. Our bodies would let us know when we were eating too much. Now, however, things are different.
  5. It seems that humans may now be less sensitive to sensory clues that indicate which foods are fattening or unhealthy. This means that we may find it challenging to tell when we've had enough sugar. We may likewise have difficulty determining how much of any sweetener is too much.

    Although there's no research definitively linking this tendency to the use of artificial sweeteners, speculation is rampant in the medical community. Expect to see quite a few published studies in the next few years.

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Using Artificial Sweeteners Safely

  1. Eat a balanced diet. Whether you eat sugar or substitutes, be sure to leave room for nutrient dense foods. Eat plenty of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and some healthy fats.
  2. Be realistic about calorie savings. It takes just 3,500 calories to gain a pound of body weight. That's about 5 large servings of French fries a year. So if you switch to a diet food or drink to allow indulging elsewhere, avoid going overboard.
  3. Read labels carefully. Sugar-free foods may still be high in calories and fat. Examine the label to find out what you're really eating.

  4. Watch out for adverse reactions. If you experience side effects like headaches and upset stomachs when using an artificial sweetener, stop using the sweetener to see if your symptoms clear up.
  5. Use sweeteners mindfully. Another good thing about sugar substitutes is that they can often be used in tiny quantities. Taste your food first so you add only as much as you need.
  6. Cut back on sweets gradually. If you have trouble eating just one potato chip, you've seen firsthand how eating a lot of sweets and fats tends to make you crave more sweets and fats. If you want to cut down, do it a step at a time. For example, substitute berries for half of your regular bowl of ice cream.

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  8. Learn to love other flavors. Train yourself to appreciate flavors other than sweets. Put something new in your salad like tart okra or bitter radicchio.
  9. Talk with your doctor. Discuss any questions you have about artificial sweeteners with your physician. This is especially important if you're trying to lose weight for medical reasons or if you need to manage diabetes.
  10. Knowing the facts about artificial sweeteners enables you to make informed decisions. Keeping up with current research and being smart about using these sugar substitutes will benefit you in many ways.



Who Else Wants to Snack Smarter?

By Maegan Ross

If you frequently eat between meals, those extra portions have a big impact on your health. They could play an important role in helping you to manage your weight and take in all the nutrients your body needs.

On the other hand, USDA studies show that currently we're taking in about one-third of our daily empty calories from those afternoon candy bars and late night refrigerator raids. That means most of us are consuming two to four times the recommended limit in solid fats and added sugars.

Turn those numbers around by learning how to choose smart snacks that are good for your health and wellbeing. Try these tips to get started.


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Change the Foods You Eat

  1. Focus on whole grains. Bake your own treats or look for packaged food that lists whole grains as the first ingredient. Whole wheat flour has more nutrients and fiber than white flour.
  2. Reduce sugar and sodium. Many junk foods are loaded with sugar and sodium. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit instead.
  3. Plan a balanced menu. Think of your snacks as miniature meals that need to include all three food groups. Along with complex carbohydrates, add in lean proteins and healthy fats.
  4. Opt for whole foods. You may be tempted to simplify things by just grabbing an energy bar or buying cookies that are labeled low fat or low sugar. In fact, many convenience foods are less healthy than the label suggests. Buy natural foods like raw nuts and plain yogurt.
  5. Drink up. If you're pressed for time, you can snack on healthy beverages. Tea contains antioxidants and other beneficial ingredients. Water will keep you hydrated and feeling full. For heartier fare, whip up smoothies in minutes with vegetables, natural peanut butter, or other goodies.
  6. Eat more produce. On average, we're eating 3 servings of fruits and vegetables compared to the recommendations for 7 to 13 servings. Snacks can help you fill in the gap.
  7. Find substitutions. You probably have certain snacks that you crave the most. If they're high in sugar or saturated fat, consider how to adjust them. Oven-baked fries are much slimmer than the fast food version. A square of dark chocolate is lighter than a doughnut.

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Change the Way You Snack

  1. Limit portions. It's easy to consume as many calories as a full meal if you're scarfing down potato chips or cheesecake. Measure out a single serving instead of eating out of the container.
  2. Snack mindfully. Stay in control by giving your full attention to your food. Enjoy the process of cracking nuts and eating them one by one instead of wolfing down a whole package while watching TV. Spoon out leftovers onto a plate and pull up a chair rather than eating with the refrigerator door open.
  3. Pack a bag. Carry sensible treats around with you to avoid desperately searching for something wholesome in vending machines or gas stations. Pack a cooler with carrot sticks and yogurt drinks.
  4. Manage stress and boredom. Distinguish between true hunger and appetite. Do you eat for entertainment or to comfort yourself when you feel blue? Pick up a hobby or invite a friend out for a walk instead.
  5. Keep a journal. If you need more help, a snacking journal can track how much you're really eating. Spot the triggers that make you want to overindulge and develop strategies for dealing with them.
  6. Select snacks that stabilize your blood sugar and give you the energy you need to sail through your busy day. Nutritious foods and advance planning will help you to stay fit and healthy while you graze between meals.



The Plus-Size Person's Solution to Exercise Motivation

By Maegan Ross

Weight loss usually requires eating less and moving more. The second half of that formula can be daunting if your size makes you feel uncomfortable at the gym. Solve that dilemma by tapping into exercise motivation on a grand scale.

Of course, it's especially important to talk with your doctor before beginning any workout routine if you're significantly overweight or if you've been sedentary for a long time. Your health care team can recommend a program that's safe for you.


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The good news is that you're likely to find a range of activities you can enjoy whatever your physical condition. Try these tips to help you get started.

Exercise Motivation Tips

  1. Choose the right classes. Many gyms and exercise studios now offer courses for specific groups, including groups for those who are overweight. If your current facilities don't offer this kind of program, ask them about starting one.
  2. Inspire others. You can feel good knowing that your efforts may encourage the people around you to become more active. It's especially gratifying if you can instill healthy habits in your children while they're young.
  3. Burn calories faster. You actually have at least one advantage over smaller people. You burn up more energy doing the exact same number of sit ups because of your larger body size.
  4. Celebrate dramatic changes. It's difficult to tell if a person loses a single inch off their waist, but big weight losses are obvious. Take pleasure in watching your measurements change. Accept compliments from others graciously.
  5. Set intermediate goals. It can be overwhelming to dwell on your final target weight. Establish incremental milestones and reward yourself for reaching them.
  6. Improve your health. Looking good in a bikini is nice, but there are more important things in life. Working out helps to get many medical conditions under control, including diabetes and high blood pressure. It could also extend your life and give you more time with your loved ones.
  7. Focus on your best assets. Start loving your body now. Maybe you have elegant long fingers or thick lustrous hair.

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    Workout Ideas

    1. Go for a walk. Walking is free, effective, and safe for most people. Start out with small distances and work your way up.
    2. Exercise in a chair. Chair exercises are great for seniors and for accommodating a variety of physical conditions. Browse online to find moves for every part of your body.
    3. Swim laps. Water makes exercising fun and it's easy on your joints. Check if any of your local hotels sell in-town memberships that let you use the pool as much as you want.
    4. Ride a bike. Similarly, cycling let you exercise sitting down. With a stationary bike you can stick to your routine regardless of the weather.
    5. Sign up for low impact aerobics. For more variety, try an aerobics class designed to keep your feet on the ground. You'll get your heart rate up without any jumping around.

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    7. Hop on exercise machines. Book a trial session at a nearby health club. Sample their elliptical machines and other equipment. When you find something you like, you can buy a version to use at home or sign up for a membership.
    8. Train for strength. Remember that resistance training contributes to losing weight. You'll build up your muscle mass so that you burn more calories. As a bonus, you'll also look more toned.
    9. Modify Pilates and yoga poses. The physical and mental health benefits of Pilates and yoga can help you shape up and resist emotional eating. Work with an instructor who will recommend the best poses for your needs.

    Effective fitness programs come in all sizes. Find the incentives that work for you.

    You'll be rewarded with a trimmer figure and better health.

    Start now - take the quiz!


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