As the years of our lives pass, it gets easier and easier to become a little over-weight, obese, or even morbidly obese. It may seem that just a few short years ago you were the high school star athlete or cheer leader. You were in top physical condition and a fine specimen to look at.
Then came the responsibilities of life, where you are raising a family and sometimes, no matter how hard you work, keeping the bills paid becomes a stressful focus. Sally has dance lessons, Johnny has his trumpet lessons, while the baby has colic and her constant crying is allowing no peace for anyone in the house.
Yesterday you were the picture of perfect health and fitness, today you look and feel like a busted can of biscuits. Your gut is hanging over your belt, unless you wear those stretchy pants where a belt is not required. You quit tucking in your shirts to hide said gut and you have also begun coordinating your clothing in order to not appear as fat as you have become. And yes, guys can be just as bad about this as the ladies. Well, guess what? You are not fooling anyone. If you are fat, you look fat no matter how you dress. But more importantly than your physical appearance, your health is what matters. Face it, if you continue your path to obesity with poor nutritional habits, your ability to care for your family and even yourself is going to become more difficult over time. You may find yourself making a choice between paying a utility bill this month or a co-pay at the doctors office in order for you to be seen for a condition that is 100% related to your poor dietary choices.
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
In short, you are fat, out of shape and no longer a healthy individual.
Or for a longer explanation, you have a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. (1)
The term Metabolic Syndrome is a medical diagnosis. What you do about this diagnosis is going to be a matter of personal choice. You can choose to continue with your poor nutritional habits of convenience foods that are packed full of simple sugars, high in fat, sodium and preservatives. This weak choice is going to lead to taking out the time for more doctor visits with blood labs possible each time, along with having to take medications to control the issues you suffer from. Unnecessary money and time being expended away from the larger responsibility of your family and home.
Your other choice is to take personal responsibility for your health and to be proactive in doing something about it. If you are smart, you will clean up your diet and replace processed foods with healthy whole foods. You will eliminate simple sugar from your diet, and you will begin some form of exercise with your doctors approval. By cleaning up your dietary habits, your blood labs will normalize. By quitting refined sugar and other simple carbohydrates, your cravings for foods that contain them will subside. If you think eating healthy foods is too expensive, consider the reduction of monthly expenses when you no longer need to see your doctor regular and all of those monthly prescription refills you may have for blood pressure drug, statins, acid reflux etc… With the cost of medical care today, you could likely pay for at least a weeks worth of groceries with the medical expense savings alone.
Is exercise necessary to become healthy? What if I am in a condition where my ability to do so has become impaired?
Well. if you either cannot, or simply do not want to exercise, then you had damn well better be much stricter about your diet. That is a simple and plain hard truth my friends. This point is not even arguable on any level. Here is another truth, if you can move your body in any fashion, then you can begin doing something, anything to become more mobile. Even if you cannot walk, you can still do arm, abdominal and back exercises. If you are still capable of walking, then you can do the following:
- Walk briskly. Or, briskly for you.
- Put on some music and move your body with dance, Move your body around, shift your weight from one leg to another, lift your arms to the beat of the music. Look like a young child again, have fun with it.
- If you cannot jump rope, make believe you are by skipping in place.
- Get up and down from your chair 50 to 100 times.
- If you have stairs in your home, then walk up and down them several times per day.
- Try doing jumping jacks.
- Hop in a circle around a room in your home. Get your kids involved, the young ones will have a blast. Try hopping on one foot at a time for 30 second intervals.
- Rise up and down on your toes to work your calves.
- Stand on one leg and hold onto a chair or a wall for balance. Extend your free leg in front of you so the heel stretches out about 12 inches in front of your standing leg. Now bend your standing leg knee so you lower your body about 6 inches, and then come back up. Do this 25 times and then switch legs.
- Jog in place, picking your knees up higher each time and also extending the time you do this.
- You can pick and choose any of these simple exercises and do them as you watch television and your program is interrupted by a commercial.
Now of course if you are overweight and in poor condition, fatigue and soreness are going to be a limiting factor. But, these factors are only short term in nature. The objective is for you to work your way up with increased exercise. You may not be capable of running in a marathon next month, but you may find yourself at least able to walk in a 5k event. You can walk, do a few flights of stairs until you are fatigued. Take a rest and go at it again after a few hours. Build on the amount of time you can do this until you can go for a solid hour. The more out of shape you are, the more important it will be for you to exercise in short periods on a frequent basis. If you can only go at it for 5 minutes at a time, then plan your day to dedicate six five minute time frames to do your exercise. No excuses, just choose to plan and then commit. If you make regular exercise a habit, before you know it, you will find yourself far exceeding your original capabilities.
You can burn calories and fat with a variety of cardiovascular exercises, but if you want more bang for the buck, you must consider some form of strength training in order to increase your lean muscle mass. Some people will complain that they can not lose weight even when they have cut back on their food intake. Usually the problem is they are still consuming too many calories for their basal metabolic rate, still eating sugar and have very little lean muscle mass. The more lean muscle mass you have, the easier it is going to be for you to burn body fat. The way to address this is to go to our Calorie Calculator in our menu to find out your caloric needs and then consume a sugar free diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, along with performing strength building exercises. Your body needs the protein to not only maintain your lean muscle mass, but more importantly to increase it. As your body fat percentage comes down, you also need for your lean muscle mass percentage to rise. At David’s Way, we actually support working towards a healthy body fat percentage over a random number you might want to see on your bathroom scale.
Invariably, people who complain that their metabolic rate is slow and they have trouble losing weight no matter what they consume week to week have weak muscles and are poorly conditioned. When you perform strength building exercises, you are going to increase the density of your lean muscle mass which is going to raise your metabolism. Increasing your lean muscle mass can be done by anyone who makes the choice to do so. If you want to be healthy, this is imperative. This is why we encourage achieving a healthy body fat percentage over a number on the scale. You might lose 50 to 100 pounds, be thin and yet be what is referred to as “Skinny fat”. Your weight means little if your body fat percentage is still at an unhealthy level. If you are thin and also soft to the touch, then you are no healthier than you were when you were much heavier. You are only thinner, do not fool yourself that being able to wear smaller clothing now means you are in decent shape. Skinny fat is still bad for you.
Many, if not most who go about losing weight, lose lean muscle along with body fat. If you do not maintain what you have or build upon it, you can regain all of the weight you have lost and now have a higher body fat percentage than you had before losing weight. This is going to be detrimental to your metabolism. If you are a yo-yo dieter who does not build muscle too, then your metabolism is going to slow more and more with each weight gain. Exercise is going to facilitate your weight loss and make you healthier. Vigorous exercise is even better. Build up to it gradually, You have the rest of your life if you have made a decision to be healthy for the remainder of your life. Start slow and build yourself up, do not injure yourself. If you have the fortitude to begin living a healthy life, you will find the will to eat healthy and exercise.
Metabolic Syndrome may be a medical diagnosis, or maybe it is actually a politically correct and polite way of saying you are fat and out of shape. Either way, you can do something about it. And what you do, does not have to require expensive doctors visits and medications. If you make an intelligent choice, you will clean up your diet and begin an exercise regimen right away. This truly is a matter of personal choices and then sticking with it. You are likely to have a few saboteurs along the way who will try to derail you by getting you to “just eat a little cake” or what ever. People who will tell you how good you have done and then pester you to join them in poor food choices. When you stick to your decision to only eat healthy and remain committed to making time for exercise, some of the people close to you may get angry when you do not join them in unhealthy habits. Bear in mind, if these kind hearted folks really care about your health and well being, they will not try to sabotage you. Misery loves company and unhealthy people will try to drag you down to their level. Sometimes, being around a crowd that eats a lot of unhealthy foods and do not exercise is like finding yourself in a bucket full of crabs. Where the harder you try to climb out, the harder they are going to try to pull you back in. Do yourself a favor and avoid the crabs.
Life and how we live it is truly a matter of personal choices. Choose wisely, you only have one body and one life.