Tag Archives: health

Losing Weight Is Simple

Losing Weight Is Simple, But Not Easy
Losing Weight Is Simple, But Not Easy

The Weight Loss Problem

Everyone knows that, since about 1970, Americans have been getting fatter and fatter.

As of 2010, 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight or obese (based on BMI, Body Mass Index).  If current trends continue, by 2020, 3 out of 4 Americans will be overweight or obese.  And by 2030, the figure will be 86%.

New studies are showing that obesity is not just an American problem.  While Americans are leading the way, many of the richest nations are also becoming more obese.

This chart shows past and projected future overweight rates.  The trends are both clear and alarming.

Overweight Trends
Overweight Trends

The Weight Loss Solution

OK, we’re getting fatter.  We all know that.  The important question is “What can we do about it?”

No doubt, there are big changes that have to be made to help combat these frightening trends.  We need legislative and policy changes that reward healthy habits and discourage unhealthy ones.  Generally, the health care system must focus more on preventing illness than simply treating it.

However, at the individual level – the level we can affect most directly and most quickly –  the solution is clear and simple.

When you take in more calories than you expend, you gain weight.  For every 3600 unburned calories you take in, you gain one pound.

To lose weight, you have to burn more calories by exercising regularly and take in fewer calories by eating better foods and smaller portions.  It’s that simple.

Suggestions For Getting Started

Yes, losing weight is simple.  It’s just not easy.  It requires lifestyle changes.

Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of making those lifestyle changes.  Here are two tips that will make it easier:

1. Get started now.  Not next month.  Not when the kids go back to school.  Not after the big report is finished.  Not even tomorrow.  TAKE ACTION NOW.

2. Don’t expect perfection from yourself, just improvement. Understand that it took a while to gain the weight and it will take time to lose it.  If you have a bad day, forget it.  Do better the next day.  Be patient but persistent.  Don’t give up.

5 Ways To Be Happier

A study by statistician Nic Marks and his organization, the New Economics Foundation, found that you can increase your happiness by doing these 5 things . . .

    1. Connect with your loved ones and build strong social relationships.

    2. Be physically active.

    3. Be aware of the world around you, locally and globally.

    4. Engage your curiosity and keep learning your whole life.

    5. Give. Donate money or time to others.

Actually, these findings were part of a presentation Marks made on the need for countries to increase the well-being and happiness of its citizens without doing environmental damage.

Marks’ statistics show that the countries of the world are becoming less efficient at using the earth’s resources. That is, the use of the earth’s resources is increasing much faster than is our well-being.

The goal of countries, says Marks, should be to increase the well-being and happiness of its citizens in an earth-friendly way.

Right now, one country is doing that better than the others.

Is it the United States? No. Great Britain? No. Another Western country? Nope. How about some super-rich Gulf State? No, again.

The country that is providing the most well-being and happiness with the least environmental cost is . . .

Costa Rica.

According to a recent Gallup poll, Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world. And they achieved this distinction while using about 1/4 of the earth’s resources that the U.S. and other Western nations use.

Perhaps the key is that environmental friendliness is policy in Costa Rica which has a declared goal of being carbon neutral by 2021. Already, 99% of Costa Rica’s electricity comes from renewable sources.

Very interesting, don’t you think?

The 5 Essential Components of Fitness

Health & Fitness
Fitness & Health

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overall fitness is made up of five main components:

* Cardiorespiratory endurance
* Muscular strength
* Muscular endurance
* Body composition
* Flexibility

Cardiorespiratory Endurance

Cardiorespiratory endurance is the ability of the body’s circulatory and respiratory systems to supply fuel during sustained physical activity.

To improve your cardiorespiratory endurance, try activities that keep your heart rate elevated at a safe level for a sustained length of time such as walking, swimming, or bicycling. The activity you choose does not have to be strenuous to improve your cardiorespiratory endurance. Start slowly with an activity you enjoy, and gradually work up to a more intense pace.

Muscular Strength

Muscular strength is the ability of the muscle to exert force during an activity.

The key to making your muscles stronger is working them against resistance, whether that be from weights or gravity. If you want to gain muscle strength, try exercises such as lifting weights.

Muscular Endurance

Muscular endurance is the ability of the muscle to continue to perform without fatigue.

To improve your muscle endurance, try cardiorespiratory activities such as walking, jogging, bicycling, or dancing.

Body Composition

Body composition refers to the relative amount of muscle, fat, bone, and other vital parts of the body.

A person’s total body weight (what you see on the bathroom scale) may not change over time. But the bathroom scale does not assess how much of that body weight is fat and how much is lean mass (muscle, bone, tendons, and ligaments). Body composition is important to consider for health and managing your weight!

Flexibility

Flexibility is the range of motion around a joint. Good flexibility in the joints can help prevent injuries through all stages of life.

If you want to improve your flexibility, try activities that lengthen the muscles such as swimming or a basic stretching program.

Organic Strawberries Are Healthier, Tastier, And Better For The Soil Than Conventional Strawberries

Strawberries
Strawberries

Many of us have puzzled over whether to pry open our wallets and pay extra for organic fruits and vegetables.

Intuitively, we believe that organic food is healthier than food produced conventionally using chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

However, frankly, there has been very little research to support this belief.

Until now.

A recently released comprehensive study conducted by scientists from Washington State University concludes that organically grown strawberries are healthier, tastier and better for the soil than conventionally grown strawberries.

The study was well conceived and thorough.

The researchers compared 13 organic with 13 conventional strawberry fields in California over a two year period. To control for soil type and weather patterns, the fields were planted in pairs, one organic and one conventional field next to each other. The strawberries from all fields were picked, transported, and stored under identical conditions.

Here are more details of the study’s conclusions . . .

  • The organic strawberries were higher quality. They had increased antioxidants, vitamin C, and total phenolics. Taste-testers generally rated them higher.
  • Organic strawberry plants showed fewer instances of post-harvest fungal rot than conventional strawberries, despite the fact that no fungicides were used on the organic fields. (The study notes this finding may prove that organic systems help defend plants against infection through systemic-acquired resistance rather than chemical inputs.)
  • Despite the conventional practice of spraying soils with synthetic fertilizers, the study found that organic fields contained significantly higher amounts of nutrients.

Let me see if I’ve got this. Higher quality and better tasting fruit, healthier plants and healthier soil. That’s win-win-win by my calculations.

I’m going to keep spending more to get organic fruits and vegetables because I believe they are better for us and for our planet. And, now, I have more than intuition to support that decision.

Here’s the journal reference for the study: John P. Reganold, Preston K. Andrews, Jennifer R. Reeve, Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, Christopher W. Schadt, J. Richard Alldredge, Carolyn F. Ross, Neal M. Davies, Jizhong Zhou. Fruit and Soil Quality of Organic and Conventional Strawberry Agroecosystems. PLoS ONE, 2010; 5 (9): e12346 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012346

Studies Prove Volunteers Live Longer

Volunteers live longer!

This is one of the findings of a research study called “The Health Benefits of Volunteering” which was done in 2007 by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

According to the study, a growing body of research indicates that volunteering provides not just social benefits, but also individual health benefits for the volunteers.

These are some of the study’s most compelling conclusions . . .

    1.  The health benefits are greater for older volunteers (over 60) than for younger volunteers.

    2.  Benefits include improved physical and mental health and greater life satisfaction.

    3. There is a “volunteering threshold” for health benefits. That is to say, a minimum amount of volunteering is required to derive health benefits from the volunteer activities.  Interestingly, however, once that threshold is met, no additional health benefits result from volunteering more. (The definition of considerable volunteering has been variously defined by these studies as 1) volunteering with two or more organizations; 2) 100 hours or more of volunteer activities per year; and 3) at least 40 hours of volunteering per year.)

    4. When patients with chronic or serious illness volunteer, they receive benefits beyond what can be achieved through medical care.  That’s stunning!

    5. Volunteers have lower rates of depression.

The evidence is clear.  Volunteers live longer and more healthy lives.

You can read the study here.