Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Weight Control

Weighing in on weight control

Copyright © 2008 At Peace With Food

Have you ever tried to lose weight? I'm guessing that the answer is probably yes. Most of us, at some time, have looked at diet books, diet pills, potions, anything we could find to get rid of unwanted pounds.

My question is not "did any of these methods work, long term?" because I am pretty sure the answer is "no." My question is "how often did you weigh yourself, and did it help?" I suppose if you are currently trying to lose weight, you can simply change the "did" to "do and does."

You should know that I once weighed about 25 pounds more than I do today. I have been on many different diets, and, for me, none of them worked. Well, they did work, while I was on them. But once I stopped the diet, the weight came right back. While I don't exactly remember all the diets I've been on, I do remember the scales I've been weighed on-both my own, and at the group meetings I used to attend.

And when I belonged to group programs, I remember I wouldn't eat the day of the meeting, because we had to weigh in. Then, after the meeting I would go out and eat. I'm afraid I wasn't a very good groupie.

Let me tell you about my experience with owning a scale. I have a professional scale-you know, the one with the weights, the big one that you move every 50 pounds, and then the smaller one for the individual pound. Many years ago I conducted my first weight control group out of my living room in State College, PA. I guess I bought a good one, because it still works.

Over the years, I have found that weighing myself doesn't really help me with controlling my eating. I used to weigh myself all the time. I'd weigh myself at the beginning of the day, and then at the end of the day. Eventually I learned that the numbers on the scale weren't always very helpful. Of course I weighed more at the end of the day, but it wasn't from gaining fat-it was simply the weight of the food and drinks I hadn't digested.

As I "evolved" my weight control programs, I would only weigh myself every few days. But even that didn't help me. See, if I found I had gained weight, I would be depressed, and I would eat more. Conversely, if I saw I had lost weight, I would be very excited, thinking, "If I did this before, I can do it again." Guess what I would do? Yes, I would eat. So, for me, weighing myself every few days was no help at all!

Each person finds his or her own weight strategies, for better or for worse. I think, for me, the best thing is to just not weigh myself at all, or perhaps maybe once every few weeks. The reality is, I know when I have overeaten. Luckily for me, I don't punish myself, and I try to just move forward. I have learned to balance my overeating with periods of eating less-and according to my doctors' scale; my weight has stayed the same for the last 10 years (plus or minus a pound or two).

If you are a person who weighs yourself all the time, try giving yourself a week off-you know you deserve it. Pay attention to how you are feeling, emotionally. Hopefully, giving yourself this week off will be a liberating experience. Perhaps you will learn something about your behaviors, and realize that if you aren't a slave to the scale, you don't have to be a slave to your diet.

If you can learn to trust yourself not to rely on a single number, you will be able to learn to trust yourself to make healthy choices for yourself. Perhaps…over time.. you may discover a way to lose weight-a whole new way.

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The Thyroid And Weight Control

by: George Best

Thyroid hormone is probably the single strongest stimulator of the metabolism, and therefore sluggish thyroid function is almost always associated with stubborn weight problems. Although decreased thyroid function can be due to problems with the thyroid gland itself, in many cases other factors are actually to blame. Let's examine the whole thyroid hormone system so that you can better understand where things can go wrong and how thyroid function can often be improved with lifestyle changes.

The stimulation of metabolism actually begins in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus - the master hormone controller. The hypothalmus senses the need for more or less thyroid hormone production and when more is needed, it signals the pituitary gland to produce a hormone called TSH (you may have seen this hormone listed on a blood test for thyroid function). Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) does what it's name suggests - it stimulates the thyroid gland to produce the inactive T4 hormone. When the inactive T4 hormone levels increase, it is taken up by the liver and converted to the active form of thyroid hormone, known as T3. The T3 hormone then acts on receptor sites on the cells of the body and causes the cells to produce more mitochondria, which can be thought of a microscopic power plants inside the cells. The mitochondria create energy for the cells (which when combined from millions of cells creates energy for the body as a whole) by burning stored sugar and fat.

When something goes wrong in the thyroid system, the body does not burn fat and sugar as much, so there is a tendency for weight gain. Since energy production is down, fatigue often sets in. And because there is not sufficient energy for certain cellular functions, healing and tissue regeneration may be depressed - this is most commonly noticed as hair loss and brittle nails.

There are several possible reasons why the thyroid system might not work as well as it should. First, there may not be sufficient stimulation of the body to cause the hypothalamus to start the process. The primary stimulator of the thyroid system is exercise - primarily short bursts of intense exercise. In other words, for healthy thyroid function, it is more effective to do interval training in which you do repetetive bursts of intense activity with rest in between, than it is to do long periods of low-intensity exercise, but any form of exercise is helpful.

Another possible problem is that the thyroid gland itself might be damaged, either by infection, or possibly by radiation exposure (either accidental exposure or intentional radiation of the thyroid for cancer treatment). In the case of actual thyroid damage, some type of thyroid medication will usually be necessary to compensate.

Yet another possible problem in the thyroid system is poor conversion of the inactive T4 hormone to the active T3 hormone by the liver. This typically occurs with poor lifestyle - excessive alcohol and/or drug use, and/or bad diet (especially a diet high in fats and animal proteins). The functioning of the liver can usually be greatly enhanced through dietary approaches, and improved liver function will translate to more efficient activation of thyroid hormone.

The active T3 hormone can actually be blocked at the receptor sites on the body's cells and cannot send the signal for the cells to build additional mitochondria, and metabolism becomes sluggish. This is a common side-effect of estrogen and estrogen-like chemicals. The most common sources of estrogen interference with thyroid hormone are birth control medications and estrogen replacement therapy. If you have experienced weight gain and other thyroid-related symptoms since starting on birth control or hormone replacement, you may wish to consult with your physician about other options.

Finally, the formation of mitochondria can be interfered with by the presence of certain chemicals. Sodium benzoate, a preservative found in many processed foods and beverages (especially soft-drinks) can damage the genetic material within the cells needed for mitochondrial formation. Here again, cleaning up the diet can be very beneficial to overall thyroid hormone function and the ultimate goal of weight control.

To sum things up, there are steps you can take to maximize the metabolism-stimulating effects of the thyroid. First, regular exercise is important, and interval-training is the most effective for thyroid stimulation. Next, avoid excessive alcohol consumption, avoid drugs and medications except for those that are absolutely necessary, and keep fat and protein intake to a moderate level so as not to overwork the liver. In addition, you may wish to consult with your doctor if you are using any kind of birth control or hormone replacement medication containing estrogen. Finally, avoid the preservative sodium benzoate in order to avoid interfering with the production of your cellular "power plants", the mitochondria. In most cases these steps will gradually normalize thyroid hormone function and you will find that weight control becomes much easier. In a few cases, medical treatment for thyroid damage may be needed, but simple lifestyle changes are often the most effective means of improving metabolism.

About The Author

Dr. George Best is a holistic healthcare practitioner in San Antonio Texas. For more information about natural weight loss, please visit . Dr. Best can be reached via email to

Exercise and Weight Control

by: John Riverside

Regular physical activity is an important part of effective weight loss and weight maintenance. It can also help prevent several diseases and improve your overall health. It does not matter what type of physical activity you perform sports, planned exercise, household chores, garden work, or work-related tasks all are beneficial. Studies show that even the most inactive people can gain significant health benefits if they perform 30 minutes or more of physical activity per day.

Research has consistently shown that regular physical activity, combined with healthy eating habits, is the most efficient and healthy way to control your weight. Whether you are trying to lose weight or maintain it, you should understand the important role of physical activity and include it in your lifestyle.

Just about everybody seems to be interested in weight control. Some of us weigh just the right amount; others need to gain a few pounds. Most of us "battle the bulge" at some time or the other in our life. Whatever our goals, we should understand and take advantage of the important role exercise plays in keeping our weight under control.

Carrying too much body fat is a major nuisance. Yet excess body fat is common in modem-day living. Few of today's occupations require vigorous physical activity, and much of our leisure time is spent in sedentary pursuits.

Physical activity helps control your weight by using excess calories that otherwise would be stored as fat. The number of calories you eat and use each day regulates your body weight. Everything you eat contains 'calories, and. everything you do uses calories, including sleeping, breathing, and digesting food. Any physical activity in addition to what you normally do will use extra calories.

Balancing the calories you use through physical activity with the calories you eat will help you achieve the desired weight. When you eat more calories than you need to perform the day's activities, your body stores the extra calories and you gain weight.

There are three types of activities you need to do to keep your body healthy: endurance activities, flexibility activities, and strength activities. Do a variety from each group to get the most health benefits. This book offers you a range of activities to choose from.

Excess body fat has been linked to such health problems like coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, arthritis and certain forms of cancer. Some evidence now exists showing that obesity has a negative effect on both health and longevity.

Successful weight loss goes hand in hand with regular exercise. Being active doesn't have to mean a daily trip to the gym or running a marathon - everyday activities like gardening, walking to the market and even having sex all count as a form of exercise!

Exercise is associated with the loss of body fat in both obese and normal weight persons. A regular programme of exercise is an important component of any plan to help individuals lose, gain or maintain their weight.

Losing weight, gaining weight or maintaining your weight depends on the amount of calories you take in and use up during the day, otherwise referred to as energy balance. Learning how to balance energy intake (calories in food) with energy output (calories expended through physical activity) will help you achieve your desired weight.

Although the underlying causes and the treatments of obesity are complex, the concept of energy balance is relatively simple. If you eat more calories than your body needs to perform your day's activities, the extra calories are stored as fat: If you do not take in enough calories to meet your body's energy needs, your body will go to the stored fat to make up the difference. Exercise helps ensure that stored fat, rather than muscle tissue, is used to meet your energy needs.

On the average, a person consumes between 800,000 and 900,000 calories each year! An active person needs more calories than a sedentary person, as physically active people require energy above and beyond the day's basic needs. All too often, people who want to lose weight concentrate on counting calorie intake while neglecting calorie output!

The energy costs of activities that require you to move your own body weight, such as walking or jogging, are greater for heavier people since they have more weight to move.

Be Realistic

While using a gym is a fantastic way to lose weight, so many people enter a gym with unrealistic expectations. The reasoning often runs like this: go to the gym, and train two hours every single day, then watch as muscle builds and fat melts away. The assumption is that intense fitness training will lead to fast weight loss as calories are burned like crazy.

Well, maybe - but most of us aren't used to intensive fitness training. Trying to do too much too soon leaves us exhausted, full of aches and lacking in motivation. The fast weight loss we dreamed of doesn't materialize, and we stop going to the gym. In doing so, we forfeit any exercise-related weight loss and other health benefits.

Another point to note if you go to the gym to lose weight: throw out your scales! You'll be burning fat, sure, but also building muscle. Muscle weighs far more than fat, so though you might be in better shape, you may actually gain weight over the first few months! Ditch the scales in favor of a measuring tape to chart your progress.

Exercises can be of different kinds and different regimens (one should be careful in choosing the exercise regimen) and, except for a few, they must be carried out under the guidance of an expert.

About The Author

John Riverside writes about various herbal and home remedies for Learn about how herbal medicines are helpful in your daily day to day lifestyle.

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