By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
October 27, 2021
Over the next couple of Advanced Natural Wellness issues, I’d like to share the three primary reasons 75% of Americans are struggling with weight gain and obesity, and what it takes to get past these hurdles.
It’s not just one thing. It never is.
Part of the problem lies with conventional medicine. You go to the doctor. You’re overweight and diabetic. Does he sit down with you or refer you to a nutritionist to plan a personal diet or plan an exercise program? Probably not. It’s more likely you’ll be sent on your way with a prescription or two…and told to lose weight, or watch what you’re eating or some such vague advice.
Now on your next checkup, let’s say your medicine isn’t working right. Or maybe your cholesterol is high. Or it’s something else. Chances are good you’ll end up with another prescription to add to the others.
As a functional medicine physician, my goal is to get you off those meds, not give you more. They don’t cure heart disease, diabetes or anything else. They just mask the symptoms while you put up with the side effects. And they definitely aren’t going to help you lose weight. In fact, some of them may actually cause weight gain.
So let’s get to the heart of the problem.
Your Body was Made to Move
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; your body is made for movement.
But I know. It’s so much easier not to move these days.
After hundreds of thousands of years living a hunter-gathering lifestyle, we now spend our time riding around in cars, sitting in front of computers or binge-watching Netflix on a remote-controlled TV.
You don’t have to get up to dim the lights or add something to your grocery list. Alexa will do it for you! Shoot, you don’t even have to go the grocery store to fulfill that list. Just order it online.
A life without movement is no life at all. I even tell people that “sitting is the new smoking.” But if sitting is the new smoking, when do we quit?
Seriously, when people stop moving around and instead spend hours at a time sitting still, they are asking for trouble.
The body slowly starts to decline — losing muscle and bone mass. Before you know it, your body is weak and prone to injury or disease. More sitting times and lower levels of exercise have a direct relationship with obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and mortality, too.
In the meantime, physical activity does much more than just build muscle and lean body mass. It keeps your blood circulating to prevent arteries from clogging and causing a heart attack, stroke or dementia. It helps improve your body’s ability to take in and use oxygen. It lowers body weight, blood pressure and cholesterol.
It also improves insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. Since obesity and diabetes tend to go hand-in-hand, gaining control of blood sugar is a great first step.
And let’s not forget that staying active helps you perform your daily activities and reduces your chances of disability.
My Prescription? Get Active!
Whether you are overweight or not, physical activity is your best medicine for a long and healthy lifestyle. So if you’re not already moving, get moving!
Still, it’s very common for people who are obese or have other health issues to convince themselves that any physical exertion is entirely out of the question. At the same time, it’s the absolute best thing you can do for your health.
If you can move, you can increase your activity levels! It might not be easy. And you might not like it. But you can do it. And you’ll be surprised to find out exactly how simple it is.
Better yet, it doesn’t matter a single bit what your starting condition is. As long as you can sit, stand and walk.
If going from a sit to a stand position exerts you, don’t avoid it. Get up and down as often as you can during the day. If stooping is hard, start doing little dips throughout the day – with your hands on a table or counter to help keep your balance.
And start walking. I recommend beginning with one or two daily walks. Simply pick a direction and walk in a straight line.
If you’ve been inactive for a while, start off with a short distance for five or ten minutes. Then turn around and walk back home. Add more distance every day. You can walk in a park, through your neighborhood or even just on a treadmill. It all works fine.
As you build strength, include some short bursts of high intensity activity with rest periods in between. For instance, you might do sprints for 30-second followed by 2-4 minutes of easy walking. For you, a sprint might just be a faster form of walking. Or it might be a jog. Just do what you can within your body’s own limits.
And don’t forget about aquatic exercises. They are great for people who have bad knees, hips, backs or trouble moving in general. The buoyancy of the water makes it extremely low impact, while the water resistance makes it even more efficient than land exercise.
Exercising in water burns fat and decreases body mass. It increases flexibility, strength and endurance. It’s great for your lungs, circulatory system and brain. It can also make big improvements in pain, disability and quality of life.
The longer you stick with it, the more dramatic the effects. And the more strength and endurance you build, the more activities you can participate in.
It doesn’t cost a thing, and it works better than any drug on the market to keep you healthy and active.
Stay tuned to upcoming Advanced Natural Wellness articles to learn about additional factors that contribute to the fattening of America, and what you can do about them.
The State of Obesity: 2021. Trust for America’s Health. Sept 2021.
Obesity and Overweight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. Page last reviewed: Mar 2021.
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