Here We Go Again: Another New Year's Resolution to Shed Those Dreadful Pounds!
|James H. Rimmer, Ph.D., Director|
In 2004, losing weight will be an even bigger goal (and challenge) for Americans because obesity and diabetes have been major news stories, making the front pages of leading magazines such as Time and Newsweek, and being touted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as America's newest epidemic. Even the Three Kings of network news, Rather, Jennings, and Brokaw, have joined the procession of health disseminators by casting monthly stories on the growing "fatness" of America. And research on people with disabilities, disappointingly ignored by the media, paints an even bleaker picture. The few published studies on people with physical and cognitive disabilities report higher obesity rates than in the general population.
Losing weight seems like an easy enough New Year's resolution compared to achieving stardom, making peace with your teenage son or daughter, or hitting the lottery. But the fact of the matter is that for every 100 people who awakened on New Year's Day with the mindset that they are going to lose 20 pounds or more in 2004, 95 will be at the same weight or higher before the ball drops in Times Square to ring in 2005.
As you begin the New Year with the hope of reducing your weight, here are a few simple reminders:
1. Don't keep it in the house or office drawer. Limit the amount of high-fat and high-salt foods that you keep in your home or office. There is a tendency to eat more of a product when it is freely available. My wife and I decided a few years ago that when we desperately wanted a bowl of ice cream during a midsummer's night when nothing could possibly taste better, it was better on the waistline to drive out to the ice cream parlor where you receive a "controlled" portion rather than indulging in an ad libitum and easily- accessible half-gallon of Haagen-Dazs or Breyer's stuck in the back of the icebox. While it's true that purchasing a half-gallon of ice cream (which are often on sale) is much less expensive than buying a bowl or cone at your local ice cream parlor, you'll end up eating less and won't have to fight the desire for that second helping. Similarly, keep a limit on the kind of snacks you keep in your desk drawer and stay away from the snack machine.
2. Don't drop the weight too fast. Most people who lose weight make the fatal mistake of losing it too fast by going on very low-calorie diets that are nearly impossible to maintain over any length of time longer than a few months. Getting back to your "ideal" weight takes time and should be dealt with over months as opposed to weeks. You didn't gain the weight overnight, and you won't lose it that way either. Given that most people who drop weight quickly regain it before the end of the year, think of weight loss as a long-distance race rather than a sprint. Make small, incremental changes to your eating habits such as reducing your snack intake (five less Chips Ahoy cookies daily will result in a significant weight loss over a four- or five-month period) or switching from pop to flavored or sparkling water. Watch the pounds come off slowly rather than quickly. Quick weight loss usually results in quick weight gain.
3. Exercise, exercise, exercise. Because our bodies are set at a certain "thermostat" for regulating our individual weight, it is very difficult to fight the urge to eat. The best way to help you maintain your weight loss plan is to reduce calories by a modest amount through a sound diet, while increasing the amount of minutes during the day that you are moving. The more you move, the more calories you'll burn. And the more you move, the better you'll feel, which I have been referring to lately as the five M's to good health - Moving More Means More Mobility! Do anything you can to move more - transfer from your wheelchair to the couch a few times a day during commercials; walk or wheel back and forth from room to room during the cold winter months when you can't leave your home for your daily walk or wheel; and use a variety of exercise videos that can be performed at your own pace and that you change from time to time to prevent boredom. If you can afford an inexpensive exercise machine or a YMCA membership, go for it.
4. Use NCHPAD as your one-stop resource for getting and staying physically active. Contact us at 800-900-8086 or at email@example.com, and we'll help you get started by sending you our new exercise video for persons with paraplegia (due out in early February) or by recommending other home exercises you can do with minimal or no exercise equipment.
Over the next several weeks there will be lots of commercials advertising new exercise equipment, fitness memberships, and weight loss plans. Remember: the only sure way to lose weight is to eat less and move more. Discipline is the key to successful weight loss