Keeping Fit - Weight and health

Overweight is one of the biggest deterrents to successful middle age, and is also one of the greatest threats to health and longevity. As one physician said, “Consider how few really obese persons you see over 60 years of age.” Unfortunately, in middle age most of us maintain the eating habits of our youth while we cut down on our exercise. The result: added weight that acts as a deterrent to our physical well-being.

The overweight person is more likely to develop arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney trouble, and many other disabling or fatal disorders.

As reported in Nation's Business , “If you are overweight by 10 percent, your chances of surviving the next 20 years are 15 percent less than if you had ideal weight; if you are 20 percent overweight, your chances are 25 percent less; if you are 30 percent overweight, 45 percent less.” In other words, the odds are against the overweight.

If you do not know what your ideal weight should be, a physician can tell you. To check yourself, try the “pinch” test. Take a pinch of skin on your upper arm just below the shoulder. If more than a half-inch separates your fingers, you are too fat. Try the same test on your stomach when you're standing erect. And, of course, your mirror can reveal the tell-tale signs of middle-age fat—the double chin, sagging belly, flabby arms and legs.

Good Eating Habits

Is there any magic way to reduce? The only sure way is to eat less , and to continue this practice all the time. It will not help if you go on a crash diet and then resume your normal eating habits. And while exercise will help control weight and burn up excess calories, probably the best exercise is to push yourself away from the table before you've overeaten.

Calories do count, and usually the caloric intake of a person in the 40-to 55-year age bracket should be about one-third less than that of a person between ages 25 and 40. Again, your physician or a good calorie-counter can help you determine what to eat and how much.

Here are some additional tips from nutritionists to help you lose weight:

  1. Cut down on quantity . Eat just enough to satisfy your appetite—not as much as you can. Even low-calorie foods will add weight if you eat enough of them.
  2. Eat less more often . Spread your food intake over several meals or snacks. Some hospitals have been experimenting with five meals a day, spreading the recommended total food intake over two full meals a day (brunch and dinner) and three snacks (continental breakfast, afternoon snack, and evening). They find that the stomach handles small amounts of food better, that metabolism keeps working at a good pace all day, and that blood sugar levels (your energy reserve) do not drop between meals.
  3. Avoid high-calorie foods . Cut out breads, rolls, jellies, jams, sauces, gravies, dressings, creams, and rich desserts. These are the villains that add calories and are not as rich in nutrients.
  4. Look for natural flavors . Cultivate an interest in the natural flavor of what you eat. Try vegetables without butter, coffee and tea without cream and sugar. You might want to substitute a squeeze of lemon on your vegetables or noncaloric sweeteners in your beverages.
  5. Serve only just enough . Keep portions small and put serving dishes with leftovers out of sight. Taking seconds is often just a habit. Cultivate the idea of just one serving, and you will find it satisfies the appetite. Anotheridea: serve meals on smallerplates. the portion will lookbigifonly in relationship to the size of the plate.

In order to maintain a healthy body and a youthful appearance while dieting, you must make sure you eat the necessary proteins and nutrients.This can be done by selecting a healthful variety of foods. See Ch. 27, Nutrition and Weight Control .

As a panel of experts on middle age has said: ‘Two factors are vital to successful middle age: physical activity and a variety of interests. Move around but don't rush around. Keep an open mind and a closed refrigerator. Remember that variety is more than the spice of life—it's the wellspring of life. The person who pursues a variety of activities will usually stay fit long after middle age.”

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