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  Weekly Feature (February 18, 2007)
 


Overweight in Vancouver
by
L

 

 

Itís tough to be overweight in Vancouver. Health and fitness is such a religion in Vancouver that we are constantly being reminded of our extra weight, and getting unsolicited advice on how to shed those pounds is almost a daily ritual.

Well, Iím a fairly typical Vancouverite, and hereís my two cents worth.

In the past, I was blessed with a constitution that allowed me to eat mountains of food with impunity. My metabolism would somehow adjust and burn off the excess calories. Those were the days; lately, the extra calories seem to stay and stick to the wrong places. The favourite resting place of my excess calories, a.k.a. fat, is the mid-section. Fortunately, Iíve always had a good awareness of what my body is doing, and if my alarm bells donít go off, my dear wife, another adopted Vancouverite, will considerately let me know when the bulge is showing. Welcome to the real world?

So, how do you deal with the grabbable mound around the waist that is getting more grabbable with each passing day? My work-in-progress solution is to do two things: reduce my mountain sized meals to hill sized portions, and to do more exercise. Losing weight is a math game: if your input is less than your output, you lose weight. With a two-pronged attack, you increase your chances of success. It also makes your plan more doable and less painful: you donít have to cut back as much food, and you only have to exercise moderately.

This is not a quick weight-loss solution. It is more a lifestyle change that needs to be maintained for the rest of your life. So, donít make it too painful on yourself Ė otherwise, you wonít be able to sustain it for the long term. Make gradual gains. If you can lose even 2 kilograms in a year, imagine yourself 5 to 10 years from now!

Also, remember that muscle is heavier than fat. Donít be discouraged by the weighing machine. You might already be burning off your fat without seeing any change in your weight. Instead, check your muscle tone and use the pinch test to gauge your progress. A very rough guide is to take a pinch of various parts of your body with your thumb and forefinger. If youíve got more than an inch in between, itís a good sign that you could safely lose some weight. Remember to think long-term.

Can you lose weight from specific areas of your body? In other words, can the abs of blubber be changed into abs of steel? Spot reduction is usually not successful without an overall reduction in body fat. Different people gain and lose fat in the body in different ways. For some, the fat shows on the face first before moving down to the arms, waist, bum, or legs. When they begin to lose weight, the loss might be most noticeable in any of those places. In my case, doing sit-ups and abdominal crunches resulted in a well-toned layer of muscle below my layer of abdominal fat. In 6 to 12 months, if I maintain my current regimen, that slowly diminishing layer of fat should be history.

Can I do it? Maintaining my diet and exercise routine is not difficult. I still eat generous sized meals, but with my exercise, I find myself with less time to eat. I try to get on the squash court at least 2 times a week Ė compared with my previous weekend warrior routine of one game a week. I tend not to eat within 3 hours before my game, and Iím not in a mood to eat a big meal very soon after a workout.

Combined with 90 minutes of on-court time, thatís more than 4 hours of non-food time. Thatís roughly 500 less calories being consumed on my game days, and the 90 minutes of intensive squash burns around 800 calories. Combine them and I have a caloric reduction of around 1300 calories per game night. If you also factor in the sustained increase in metabolic rate an hour or so after the game, thatís roughly half a pound of fat lost per game night. (Fat is around 3500 calories per pound or 7500 calories per kilo.)

Some weeks I get less than my 2 days of squash, and some days I spend less than an hour on the court. Thatís happening less now that Iíve established a routine. Even so, I should be able to reliably count on losing at least a kilogram of fat per month. I donít own a weighing machine and I havenít weighed myself for more than a year, but I can feel the excess baggage dissolving and, as a bonus, my heart and lungs are getting stronger.

Set backs are bound to happen. Donít get discouraged and get back to the game plan as soon as possible. Christmas and other festive days will take their toll. I had a big set back late last year when I went back to Malaysia for a 2-week visit. It was an endless round of feasting with no time or opportunity to exercise. I missed my routine, and I couldnít wait to get back on it. If you plan an enjoyable routine, getting back to it and maintaining the plan will not be a problem.

Set yourself realistic long-term goals, keep to the plan, and donít let set-backs discourage you. Pretty soon, youíll be ex-overweight in Vancouver. Think of the alternative Ė do you want to be extra-overweight in Vancouver?

 

Obesity Vocabulary

Although the main cause of obesity is over-eating, you donít have to eat a lot to become fat. Some thin people eat a lot more than people who might weigh twice as much. This apparent contradiction is caused by the fact that many overweight people have low metabolic rates. They do not burn a lot of energy and therefore do not need a lot of food. They are either very efficient in their energy usage, or they might be leading too sedentary a life. 

The best way to lose weight is to lead a more physically active lifestyle. Even walking around the block after lunch or dinner would help. Using the stairs instead of the elevator and walking to the grocery store instead of driving would also help you burn some calories. To lose weight even more quickly, take up a sport or hobby. Golf and tennis are good options. Hiking and climbing the numerous mountains around the lower mainland would be even better. When we get more active and burn more energy, we will see some weight loss.

 

What do you think the following words mean? What helped you guess the meaning? Write their meanings in the blank space.

 

1.   obesity            _____________________

2.   apparent          _____________________

3.   contradiction   _____________________

4.   metabolic rate _____________________

5.   sedentary         _____________________

6.   elevator           _____________________

7.   calories           _____________________

8.   options            _____________________

9.   numerous          _____________________

Answer Key

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Answer Key:

 

1.   obesity                _being overweight__________

2.   apparent              _seeming_____________

3.   contradiction       _something unexpected

4.   metabolic rate     _rate of energy consumption

5.   sedentary             _inactive____________

6.   elevator               _a lift______________

7.   calories               _units of energy____

8.   options                  _choices___________

9.   numerous            _many______________

 

 

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