Community Commentary: The tape measure doesn't lie

October 06, 2011|By Jane Bening

We have a national epidemic of overweight people and obesity, now affecting two-thirds of adults and one-third of children. For the first time in modern history, life expectancy is projected to shorten, a result of the myriad health problems arising from this unfortunate trend.

Let's not be inured to the bulging of America. It's not just aesthetics; it's survival.

Medical research shows that no matter how much you spend, or what food plan you choose, there are two simple lifestyle changes that result in sustained weight loss: Move more, eat less.

Funny, the body mass index (BMI) charts, which categorize weight guidelines based on height, have no ages on them. We're not supposed to gain weight throughout life.


So, what to do? We physicians observe people as they return for annual check-ups having gained weight and lost height. In my 20 years as a Newport Beach gynecologist, I have seen the BMI roller coaster over and over. Even big weight losers rarely come back having kept off the excess pounds.

My observation is that those who maintain a healthy weight have developed their own personal, sustainable and unique exercise and food routine. Simple.

The following are a few strategic pearls for maintaining a healthy body size, distilled from thousands of hours of clinical conversations and training: Privately, put on tight clothes from your past and look in the mirror.

Give away bigger clothes, or take them in, when weight is shed. This reinforces confidence in your shrinking contour.

Watch yourself doing household chores in your bathing suit, or bra and panties. Study realistic photos of yourself, bulges and all. Wear snug clothes out to events where you will be tempted to overindulge.

Here are some simple food strategies:

• Eat breakfast to get your metabolism going, like most trim people do.

• Follow the Mediterranean diet, with olive oil, fresh vegetables and fruit, and whole grains.

• Have larger snacks and smaller meals, avoiding that over-stuffed feeling, which can be defeating.

• Include a modest serving of protein, found in dairy, soy, lentils, beans, nuts, fish, poultry, or lean meat, according to your preferences, nearly each time you eat. This will sustain a level blood sugar.

• Reduce your portion sizes. Use smaller plates, plastic containers and baggies.

• Carry a cooler in your car with healthy meals.

• Order from the appetizer menu at restaurants.

• Ask for salad dressing on the side.

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