Weight Management: Make Your Body Work For You

By Kristin Gustashaw

Many people are forever in search of the magic pill to help them to lose weight. There are now even formulas that claim to reduce the amount of food you eat by simply sprinkling a substance on it. But if you were eating an unhealthy diet before trying something like this, you will still be eating unhealthy foods.

Losing weight is only one factor in the complex web that makes a body fit. In fact, losing the wrong type of weight can actually be harmful to your health. Quick weight loss diets often result in pounds shed but have more muscle lost than fat. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so when you lose muscle, you lower your metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories), strength and stability. Extra body fat is linked to a lot of health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis (poor bone health), diabetes, arthritis and some forms of cancer.

We know physical activity helps to build and maintain muscle while at the same time burns fat. However, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average American spends almost 900 percent more time watching television than engaging in any sports, exercise and physical activities. Therefore, using the excuse that you don’t have enough time in the day to exercise doesn’t hold much water.

This is not so say that changing habits will be easy. But to maximize the outcome of your efforts, try to divide and conquer your diet and physical activity routines. For example, if you eat 250 fewer calories each day, (small fries or 16 ounces of regular soda pop) and exercise off an extra 250 calories each day (take a 30-minute bike ride) this will result in 1 pound weight loss each week.  Small changes can help to ease into a new lifestyle while building and preserving your precious muscle that will make your body work for you.

Kristin Gustashaw, MS, RD, CSG, LDN, is an outpatient and geriatric dietitian in the Nutrition and Wellness Center at Rush University Medical Center.

4 thoughts on “Weight Management: Make Your Body Work For You

  1. Losing weight in a healthy way seems to be the thing that people want least. They always seem to want the quick solution rather than the right solution. This article offers some great advice.

  2. Nothing will ever replace a healthy diet and regular exercise to keep your body fit and healthy. As you mention, finding the time is as simple as turning off the TV and getting off the sofa. People make many mistakes in their quest for a healthy lifestyle and one is to try to make make too many changes all at once. Your advice of making small changes is spot on. If you make small changes every day you’ll be surprised how healthy you will be in 12 months.

  3. This is not surprising.
    Go to the park on in any weekend, and you’ll see out of shape men taking meticulous care of their cars.
    Whatever happens to taking care of themselves by losing extra weight they are carrying?
    Most people are unwilling to give up their unhealthy lifestyles, but want to lose weight anyway.
    Some are not ready to do the hard work of exercising. These are the people looking g for the magic pills, jumping from one program to the other.
    Unfortunately for these people, there is no magic pill for losing weight, except those of healthy eating and exercises. Even if the magic pill works on the short term, the weight will come roaring back with greater vengeance.

  4. I like the way you broke it down into very small increments of changes that you can make in order to lose a lb. per week. It makes it way more doable when you look at like that, rather than looking at 1 1/2 hours per day to workout to see results. A few cut calories and a little more activity will really make a different.

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