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Health & Fitness
Get Fit Before It's Too Late

15 Feb 2015
Are you obese, or know someone who is? Is that person a family member, someone you can influence? If you can, influence them before it's too late. Recent research indicates that long-term obesity is a stubborn condition that, once it sets in, is nearly impossible to remove - except perhaps through surgery, an undesirable approach. In an article published Thursday in the journal The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, four weight-loss specialists step forward to set the record straight on the challenge of overcoming obesity.

Fitness advocates like myself have long said that weight loss is 85% diet and 15% exercise. I stand by that statement to a point, but the Lancet articles points out that the human body is programmed to defend against long-term famine. This means that it gains weight - puts on body fat - when it can, and holds onto it as long as possible. Once the obesity becomes a chronic condition, counting calories comes nowhere close to solving the problem. If you are obese this is hardly new news, but now the science is backing you up.

As an exercise instructor specializing in martial arts I have lived by the notion that fitness isn't something you do only "when you need to", but it something you do continually because you need it continually. One of my physicians once pointed out that if you live a long life there is no getting around the fact that the last year or two of your life could be of low quality. But through diet and exercise the ten years before that can be very high quality. Even if you are obese you can do much to maximize strength and muscle tone.

If you are afflicted with obesity for whatever reason, seek medical help. Don't rely on alternative remedies, diet, or exercise, although diet and exercise can certainly help you improve your fitness. They remain important to wellness no matter where you are in life.

But if you are not afflicted with obesity but flirt with weight issues, quit flirting and establish a serious dating relationship with your gym. The more you exercise and keep your metabolism active, the more forgiving your body will be in keeping or letting go of any excess calories you pick up. But don't use exercise as a crutch for overeating! If your weight is higher than you'd like it to be - me personally, I don't go by weight, I go by waist - make sure you include the diet component in your regimen. Keep your calories below 2,000 a day no matter how much you exercise (unless you are an active athlete); in many cases 1,500 calories is a better ceiling. That's if too much weight is an issue; but if you are thin, keep your calories up. Don't go overboard in the other direction.

Moral of this story: Don't become obese, and if you do, deal with it immediately, before it gets locked in. You have a chance, briefly, to fight it down. After that you will be stuck with lifelong health problems. Don't be stuck with lifelong health problems!

If you would like to read the original Lancet article, click here.


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