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Old 08-01-2004, 04:44 PM   #1
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Question Why Are We So Fat? (article)


That’s the question asked in the cover story of the August 2004 issue of National Geographic magazine.

“Americans enjoy one of the most luxurious lifestyles on Earth: Our food is plentiful. Our work is automated. Our leisure is effortless. And it’s killing us,” says Geographic senior writer Cathy Newman.

Some of the latest facts and statistics revealed in the article are chilling:

* One out of three Americans is obese, twice as many as three decades ago

* The Center for Disease control and Prevention (CDC) has declared obesity an “epidemic”

* 15% of children and teens are overweight, a nearly three fold jump since 1980

* Other countries are catching up to the United States, especially newly industrialized nations. KFC opened a drive through restaurant in Beijing in 2002 with more on the way. UK snack food consumption rose 25% in the last five years. Sales of processed food rose 20% in Latin America between 1980 and 2000.

* Being overweight is now associated with over 400,000 deaths per year

* Obesity is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, stroke, and colon, breast and endometrial cancers

* Next year, Obesity is expected to surpass smoking as the leading cause of preventable death in the United States

* The Puget Sound Ferries increased their seat width from 18 to 20 inches to allow room for bigger bottoms

* An ambulance company in Colorado retrofitted its vehicles with a winch and a plus size compartment to accommodate patients up to a half a ton in weight

* A casket maker in Indiana now offers double-sized models

* One in four Americans gets ZERO exercise, one-third of Americans don’t get the minimum amount the government suggests we need just to avoid chronic disease

* The average child will watch 10,000 commercials per year touting food or beverages, nearly all of them for junk and fast food

So what’s the answer to the question? What does this article reveal? Has a new hormone been discovered that is secreted excessively in overweight people? Was the obesity gene discovered and isolated, confirming that your genetics determine whether fat is fate? Does blood sugar and insulin go haywire in certain people regardless of how they eat or how they exercise? Has it finally been proven that carbohydrates make us fat? Is the appetite mechanism in the brains of overweight people out of kilter?

Nope, none of the above. The conclusions made in the article are refreshing because they are the right ones, and the most obvious ones: The reason we are so fat is because we eat too much and exercise too little. Surprise, surprise!

“For all the Americans who’ve blamed bulging bellies on a slow metabolism, the jig is up,” says Newman. “A report earlier this year by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) finally confirms what many of us didn’t want to admit: We’re fat because we eat a lot – a whole lot more than we used to, and most of the increase comes from refined carbohydrates (sugar).”

Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at New York University is quoted in the article as saying, "How about some common sense? It’s a simple matter of eating fewer calories. But nobody wants to talk about calories because doing so does not sell books."

Truer words have never been spoken. But no one wants to listen to that simple message, “Eat less, exercise more,” because everyone is too busy looking for the latest breakthrough or the “next big thing in fat loss.” Besides, fat loss couldn’t be that simple, could it?

Maybe it’s not “easy” but the answer certainly IS that simple and the facts confirming it are now in:

According to the CDC report, we ate 1775 pounds of food per year per person in 2000, up from 1497 pounds in 1970.

In the 70’s we ate 136 pounds of flour and cereal products and now it’s up to 200 pounds per person – and the increase is almost all from processed, white flour, high sugar foods. Not to mention, everything has been Super-sized. Example: 1955 McDonald’s French fries – 2.4 ounces, 210 calories. 2004 Super size Fries – 7 ounces, 610 calories.

When you add this increased food intake (mostly refined food) on top of the lack of exercise encouraged by technology, cars, video games, television, washing machines, riding lawnmowers, elevators and other modern conveniences, you have the recipe for obesity on a global scale.

In all our searching and waiting for the latest scientific discovery, the newest pill, or the next breakthrough supplement that will free us from the shackles of body fat, most people have continued to overlook or ignore that simple and obvious advice: “Eat less, exercise more.”

Is it really that simple? Isn’t there a lot more to it? Well, yes, of course. There’s how much less do you eat, what do you eat, how much you exercise, what kind of exercise and so on. But those are just details. Often what we must do, in order to see the big picture clearly, is to reduce the problem to its most basic level FIRST before worrying about any details.

A principle called Occam’s Razor was put forth by English philosopher and theologian William Occam in the 14th century. It said, “Entities should not be multiplied beyond what is necessary.” Differently stated, it says, “The simplest and most obvious solution to a problem is usually the best one and the correct one.”

Does accepting this simple answer to the obesity epidemic make the process of losing the weight any easier? Perhaps not, at least not physically. Permanent fat loss will always require sweat, discipline and effort, and will often be a greater challenge for some than for others.

However, if we would stop allowing ourselves to be so caught up and immobilized by the myriad of different weight loss methods and theories today and just acknowledge, accept and practice the simple advice given to us in Newman's article – which we’ve all heard a thousand times before – “Eat less, exercise more,” we would not only be rewarded with results, we would also see the fog of confusion that seems to shroud the whole “weight loss thing” begin to lift. Certainty would take its place, and that would at least give us the confidence to continue to forge ahead towards our goals.

Nobody can bring you peace but yourself... Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Old 08-02-2004, 11:54 AM   #2
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Default From the Skinny Daily Post

Don’t Binge. Burn.

Crabby. I feel crabby, cranky, bored and am churning like an 11-year-old on a rainy day in July. It’s not as if I have nothing to do, but nothing I have to do is anything I want to do. There are deadlines looming or missed, stacks of filing to do, bills to be paid, people to see, appointments to keep.

But I don’t want to.

The only thing I want to do right now is eat. I could eat my way through my pantry and yours. I could concoct strange forms of frosting from the cocoa powder in my pantry and any form of fat at my disposal. And wallow in it. I could plow through all the half-eaten cereal, while waiting for a double batch of cookies to bake, then eat those so hot they burn going down.

I could, but I won’t. Not this time.

I am overwhelmed by life. Plain old life, pure and simple. I’ve just had a bit too much of a week. Too many highs, lows, demands, disappointments. Too much DNC. Too much politic. Too angry, too happy. Too much memory. Too sad, too hopeful, too burned, too anxious.

I need an opiate, a narcotic. A legal one, and one whose addiction will do me more good than harm. Food is one kind of opiate, my oldest and surest one, but it doesn’t wear well on my bones. Alcohol makes me feel a lot worse a lot faster. What I need is a long, deep sweat, and hard enough work to get some endorphins circulating in my wee brain. I need to get my heart going and keep it going for awhile. I need to go “run it off.”

You will find lots and lots of support in the nutritional and psychological communities for this cure. From full-blown depression to these intermittent blues to anxiety and panic attacks, the clinicians all recommend getting a goodly hunk — say 45 minutes or so — of aerobic activity daily, or at least 5 times per week.

To cool your jets, help you sleep, smooth the jitters, raise your spirits, give you a little more juice: panting and sweating make a great prescription. It also helps to manage anger, sadness, loss, or nervousness. Walking it off (or swimming it off, or dancing, rowing, biking, hula-hooping, playing it off) is great old medicine.

And it burns calories.

So don’t binge, burn. It works faster, costs less, and gets you to your goal a whole lot faster.

Nobody can bring you peace but yourself... Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Old 08-04-2004, 05:54 PM   #3
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Default This One Day

(from The Skinny Daily Post)

This One Day

Life while losing weight and life while maintaining weight is both the same and different. It is the same in one important respect: You do it most successfully when you do it one day at a time.

This language, this idea, borrowed from AA work, works just as well when we struggle with weight loss as it does when we fight any addiction.

We fight the idea, but it’s true. When we face up to it, we become able to deal with it: We are fighting an addiction.

We are addicted to habits that slow our metabolism. Some of us are addicted to food too. Some of us, to make it worse, are addicted to foods that don’t work well in our systems. Our bodies, fighting to maintain great health, may store fat more easily because of it.

But making all of the changes that we must make to lose weight permanently can feel impossible. Overwhelming. Giving up addictive food, taking on exercise, cutting back on caffeine, buying and preparing whole foods, measuring, weighing, preparing, recording. It’s a lot to ask. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of change. Is it too much?

Well, it is too much if you try to do it all at once, if you expect overnight change, if you have a deadline, if you require perfection, if you feel you must turn it into your religion. Work this way and you are almost guaranteed to be overwhelmed. Work this way and your focus will remain on all you must give up or do differently rather than on what you gain by building better habits. Work this way and you’re working against your human nature, just making it all too darned hard.

No. One day at a time. You really don’t have to manage much more than 16 waking hours at a go. Within those 16 hours, you need to manage your calories in, your calories out. Try to include 30 minutes of heavier breathing, maybe some strength work.

That’s it. Manage this day. Take small steps in the right direction. If you get to the end of this day and you aren’t happy with your performance, learn from it and move on to the one day you have before you. Talk it over with an advisor or friend, and give yourself the gift of deciding to do a little better tomorrow.

The easier you make it on yourself the better. The less you work against someone else’s ideal dieting day, the better. You need to work your choices into your real life, your preferences, your world.

Just today. Manage this one day.

Nobody can bring you peace but yourself... Ralph Waldo Emerson
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