Exercise and diet are critical to good health, not just weight loss.

When I entered the fitness profession many years ago, my aim was to work with people on developing and improving their fitness levels. What I didn’t anticipate was that people would seek out my expertise to help them lose weight.
After all, there are 168 hours in a week and a personal trainer might see his/her clients for all of 1-3 hours per week. There’s a whole lot of time when our clients are not accountable to us.
We typically aren’t with our clients for grocery shopping, meal preparation, portion control, or to encourage them to skip the seconds, the snacks, the beer, the wine and the dessert.
In retrospect, it’s not that surprising that so many people consult a personal trainer to achieve weight loss.
In October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that almost 40 percent of American adults and nearly 20 percent of adolescents are obese — the highest rates ever recorded for the US.
In all, more than 70 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese, meaning that an unhealthy weight has become the norm, with healthy-weight Americans — who have a BMI of less than 25 — now in the minority.
Many people who are overweight have been so for many years — most of their lives, perhaps.
Obesity often runs in families, and not just for genetic reasons. Families often share the same eating and exercise patterns. Kids don’t do grocery shopping; they eat whatever mom/dad buys and prepares. Consequently, poor eating habits are often inherited. And if parents are sedentary and dislike exercise, there’s a good chance that their kids will follow this same pattern or lifestyle.
The opposite is also true. Parents who are healthy weight often buy healthy foods and prepare healthy meals for their families. For these people, vegetables aren’t an oddity or an occasional, small side dish and French fries aren’t the only vegetable in their diets. Additionally, parents who exercise regularly will typically encourage and promote exercise to their children.
There can be no overstating the emotional component in being overweight or obese. Food is often used as a reward, a soothing comfort, an antidote to boredom or in an act of self-loathing or self-sabotage. Food is even used to stuff down or coverup feelings that one would rather not confront. In short, people with weight issues may eat for reasons other than just hunger.
For some individuals, there may genetic, metabolic or other health-related factors involved in weight gain. But for most people, it’s just a matter of too many calories being consumed and too few being burned.
Most Americans simply eat too much relative to their activity level. Most people also lead sedentary lifestyles, sitting all day at work and all night at home.
Weight loss can only be achieved by modifying energy intake, energy expenditure or both. To lose weight, you must create a negative energy balance. Since working out is all about energy expenditure, this is the part which you’ll directly work with your personal trainer.
Additionally, portion sizes are enormous compared to what was considered normal a half-century ago, or at any time other time in history. Consequently, plates are much bigger now too. Restaurant plates now look like serving platters. But even the plates we use at home are much bigger than those of our grandparents. I look at my grandmother’s china and laugh — everything looks so small compared to our modern dish ware.
In short, portions matter — a lot. Try cutting them in half. Additionally, using a smaller plate will make it look full, while holding less volume.
Another thing that causes people to overeat is watching television at meal times. This causes them to become distracted and to lose sight of how much they’re consuming. Turn off the TV and eat at the kitchen table or in the dining room. Enjoy some conversation and slow down the process of eating.
Sleep problems, such as sleep apnea or insomnia, can also lead to weight gain, or present a greater challenge to weight loss. Even if you don’t have a medical problem that is affecting your sleep, make sure you give yourself 7-9 hours per night, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. Proper rest can make a difference in maintaining a healthy weight.
Exercise is vital to good health and it’s important to remember that weight loss isn’t the only goal. Those of us with an ideal body weight still need to consistently exercise our cardiovascular systems to keep them strong and healthy.
Consider all of the benefits of exercise, aside from weight loss:
– lower blood pressure
– increased level of good cholesterol (HDL)
– leaner, stronger muscles
– stronger bones
– more energy
– improved mood
– better sleep
– stress management
Maintaining good health should be the primary reason you eat well and exercise often.
About half of all American adults—117 million individuals—have one or more preventable chronic diseases, many of which are related to poor quality eating patterns and physical inactivity. These diseases include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Type-2 diabetes, some cancers and poor bone health.
Being physically active can help prevent heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers.
To improve overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association (AHA) suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity).
Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember. You will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day.
For people who need to lower their blood pressure or cholesterol, the AHA recommends 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity, three to four times a week, to lower the risk for heart attack and stroke.
Ultimately, your workout program can be the best healthcare plan you ever have. Think of it as your health insurance plan — one that will inexpensively ensure your health and wellness.
Regular exercise results in health and wellness. Fitness equals good health. In other words, fitness is health care. On the other hand, going to the doctor is sick care. Investing in your health is the best investment you’ll ever make. The old saying is true: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
A healthy diet and consistent exercise go hand in hand. They are two sides of the same coin.
Healthy eating means maximizing the nutrients you put into your body. It will strengthen your immune system, thereby helping to prevent disease, not to mention manage weight. Lastly, healthy eating will also help you perform better. What you put in is what you’ll get out. Your body is a high-performance machine, so treat it like one.
If good overall health is not enough motivation and you are still preoccupied with weight loss, here’s how strength/resistance training will help:
Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the amount of energy expended by the body at rest and accounts for about 70% of daily energy expenditure. Resistance training may significantly increase RMR by increasing muscle mass. That’s because muscle mass alone contributes about 22% to RMR.
An increase in RMR can have a significant impact on total energy expenditure and the creation of a negative energy balance. This increase in RMR is especially important when you consider that RMR is generally depressed during caloric restriction, such as when individuals are dieting.
In effect, strength training results in a trade off — fat mass for muscle mass.
Resistance exercise can help maintain muscle mass and RMR during diet-induced weight loss. Without resistance exercise, body fat is lost, but muscle mass is also significantly wasted. That is counter-productive since it ultimately results in a reduction in RMR.
Weight loss will eventually come in time, as long as you are eating healthily and exercising regularly. But remember, weight loss is just one of the many benefits you will derive from living this healthy lifestyle.