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man and woman abstractLet’s just say that this is Mary and Joe Scofield on their way home from their doctor’s office, where once again they heard their yearly lecture.  Obviously, they are in that 68.8% of Americans who are overweight or obese and experiencing the consequences. When reading their charts, everything that should be low is high, and everything that should be down is up, including their weight.  The doctor reminded them that getting rid of the weight would probably eliminate some, if not all, of the medications they are taking for heart problems, elevated cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes.

This time the doctor was impressed with their optimism as they began talking about what they will do to improve their health.  Watching the HBO special “The Weight of the Nation” was a wake-up call for them to go online to research their conditions. They even had a list of questions to ask the doctor about a sensible diet, a safe exercise program, and they set realistic short-and long-term goals as an important first step.  They’re particularly excited about being able to exercise at home and showed the doctor a printout of how they can get a full-body workout with chair exercises.  (Read “Move It! You’re Losing It” and cdc.org at end of post.) Because they have been inactive, part of the plan is to gradually build up to a variety of more intense exercise routines.

According to The National Institutes of Health, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week can have positive results, even when spread out in ten-minute sessions throughout the day.

The couple was also motivated after reading that Honey Boo Boo’s mama even lost over 100 pounds by being more physically active (walking and moving) while taping their TV show, 365 lbs. to 263 lbs. so far.

To jump-start their physical activity, Mary and Joe decided to make brisk walking part of their daily regimen. Studies show that those who regularly walk (not stroll) to lose weight, are more likely to keep it off.  Their pedometers will let them know how close they are to their goal of 10,000 steps a day, but even if they don’t reach 10,000, every step is better than none at all.  Plus, brisk walking will help melt away that dangerous, deadly (visceral) belly fat.   This is the kind of fat wrapped around the organs in the abdomen, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, even death. (*See web site at end of post for body mass index.) According to the American Cancer Society, there’s strong evidence this type of fat may even cause colon cancer.  Moreover, it is linked to a higher risk of other cancers and poor brain health, increasing the risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  Research has also linked belly fat to bone loss in men.  Experts say this fat is often the first to go when combined with diet and physical activities you do regularly, like walking, biking, dancing, even housework and working in the yard.  Crunches, sit-ups and other abdominal exercises are good for getting rid of fat located directly under the skin (subcutaneous).

6975217_sJoe is excited about golfing (no cart) with their neighbor and joining a group of friends a few days a week to play bocce ball.  Mary is looking forward to shedding pounds by aqua jogging (running in water) with her friends.  She is also motivated to plant a garden, which promises to be a great form of physical activity.  Consequently, she is looking forward to shopping (more walking) for that new wardrobe after her weight loss. They both realize that daily physical activity and a healthy diet translate to a life-long change, now that they are seriously aiming for longevity and working on their bucket list.  Who knew fun and games could equal health and wellness?

Because they have heard so much about this thing called gluten, they are wondering if it could be the answer to some of their complaints, such as bloating, joint pain, diarrhea, gas, and stomach aches.  (Read “Tips-Gluten No-No’s”.) Since so many people are boasting about losing weight on a gluten-free diet, they are hoping it might work for them also. The doctor is testing them for celiac disease even though they don’t fit the profile, for studies show that even overweight people can have the disease.  In the meantime, they will plan their meals for the week, keep a food journal and take note of when their symptoms worsen. The journal will also allow them to see just how much, what and when they are eating and document all junk food, sugary drinks, processed foods, snacks, and “grazing”.

For years they have tried many ways to lose weight, but failed: diets, treadmill, gadgets, pills, drinks.  Nevertheless, they wonder if there’s any scientific evidence to back up those gluten weight loss testimonials, because it all sounds too good to be true.

Dieting couple

*To calculate your body mass index (BMI) go to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Web site, http://www.nhlbisupppot.com/bmi.

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