Slimming- Exploring the options

| July 30, 2010 | 0 Comments | 252 views

Why do people want to lose weight? The answer to this is complex and can involve a wide variety of factors. While some people recognize the damage they are doing to their body by carrying more weight than it was designed to carry, others may decide to lose weight for purely aesthetic reasons.

The only sensible reason to lose weight is because you are overweight and therefore putting your body, particularly your heart, at risk. Exercise becomes difficult and minor illnesses affect you as a result. The fact is, if you are overweight, you are unhealthy.

So, what is overweight? Although there are weight charts which give a general idea of what weight you should be for your height, important to weigh yourself at the same time each day and under the same conditions. For women, it is essential to realize that your weight can fluctuate alarmingly during the menstrual cycle. You should keep a chart of your weight patterns and a diary of the food you eat in order to understand how various foods affect your body.

Each individual is different and these charts can only provide a general guide. One way to determine whether you are overweight is by the ‘pinch test'. Pinch your flesh just above the waistline and if you have two inches or more, you are overweight. Or, just simply stand in front of a mirror, naked, and turn sideways - you will soon notice if you have too many bulges.

Successful weight loss

Before starting any weight loss program successfully, you need to assess your eating and drinking habits. There may be medical problems such as hypothyroidism or poly cystic ovaries syndrome involved. Your first step is to consult your doctor to rule out any medical reasons for your weight problem. Also, if you drink alcohol on a regular basis, it is time to cut back. If medical problems are ruled out, then start a food diary of everything you eat and drink each day. Do this for at least one week and then assess what you need to abstain from or cut back on. Often, you can replace these ‘bad' foods with low fat alternatives.

Learning to re-educate your palate is not so easy despite the preachings of many that it is the only way to achieve permanent weight loss. This is because the brain controls our eating and drinking patterns, telling us when to eat, when to stop and so forth. For this reason, you need to assess whether you prefer to eat three calorie controlled meals per day or whether you would prefer a diet that includes small snacks throughout the day. It is only by knowing your own eating habits that you can choose a diet that will result in long term weight loss. Whatever you decide, always seek medical advice first.

Before choosing a diet, it is necessary to consider the huge variety of diets available. Although some diets promise drastic weight loss, we should remember that two to three pounds per week is considered to be a safe weight loss. Without a regular, balanced diet, your body will lack essential minerals and vitamins and will therefore fail to function efficiently.

In general, it is accepted that diets based on counting calories or carbohydrates or those that concentrate on fat control are the most successful. When counting carbohydrates, it is essential to remember that the body needs at least 50 grams of carbohydrates each day for proper brain function. Any low carbohydrate diet that allocates less than that is dangerous.

Calorie control

We hear all about calories and how we need to count our calories but what exactly is a calorie? It is basically a unit of heat or energy. All food and drink contains these units of energy and, if your intake of calories is the same as your output, you will remain at a normal weight. However, if your intake becomes more than your output, the body will store the excess as fat. A continued diet of high calories will lead to obesity. It is therefore essential to reduce this intake to reduce this storage of fat. Normally, a safe weight loss is achieved by following a diet of around 900 and 1200 calories per day, depending on whether you lead a sedentary or an active lifestyle.

Fat control

To practice fat control, it is necessary to eliminate the visible fats such as butter, margarine, oils, and the visible fat on meat. There are sufficient hidden fats in meat, fish, and dairy products to provide the necessary fats for the body. There are also many low fat products on the market and these are a sensible substitute. Diets that work on fat control are normally very successful.

Carbohydrate control

There are two main groups of carbohydrates and these are sugar and starch. Sugar includes all sweetened foods such as sweets, desserts, cakes, and biscuits. Starches include bread, potatoes, grains, cereals, beans, and lentils.

Usually, low carbohydrate diets are based on an accurate balance of foods and therefore do not allow for deviations. This balance is designed to burn the fat quickly. It is essential that a low carbohydrate diet is strictly monitored as the body needs to find its vital energy from replacement foods. Carbohydrates are the body's source of heat and energy.

One component that is vital in any successful diet is water. To encourage the kidneys to work more efficiently, it is important to drink at least two litres of water daily. It is best to drink the water as it is but, if you find that difficult, you may take it in the form of tea or coffee as long as it is black and unsweetened.

Diet aids

There are currently many diet aids on the market and these can be very beneficial to those who feel that they need the extra help. These come in forms of appetite control suppressants, meal replacement drinks, and a variety of special diet food.

Appetite suppressants, whether they come in tablets or sweets, are designed to curb hunger pangs. Unfortunately, the sweets do not help to reeducate the sweet cravings.

If you find it difficult to count calories, meal replacement drinks and other diet foods can be very useful as the work has already been done for you. These can be used for up to two meals a day. There are also diet cookies but these should only be taken as a meal and not as a snack as they are still quite high in calories.

Drastic measures

Some people take drastic measures in their quest for a slimmer body but the reality is that willpower cannot be substituted.

Certainly, there has been some success with hypnosis and acupuncture but these cannot be undertaken lightly. Hypnosis, if not carried out by a professional, can be quite dangerous. Acupuncture, though quite successful, need to be ongoing on a regular basis over a long period of time.

There is also surgery that can be performed to remove fat from localized areas but this is only done if the person is very obese and if the surgeon is convinced that it is absolutely necessary. Likewise, the use of amphetamine based drugs for weight loss must be strictly monitored by a medical professional because of the danger of addiction.

Another dangerous practice is the use of laxatives and diuretics as diet aids. It is much better to eat more roughage to relieve constipation if necessary. Laxatives should never be used to increase the loss of body waste. Similarly, the use of diuretics for anything other than chronic fluid retention is dangerous and should not be used as a diet aid. If the dieter believes that they are suffering from water retention, they should increase their water consumption and decrease their salt intake. If this does not help, diuretics may be prescribed by a doctor.


An important factor in weight loss is exercise. This doesn't mean that you need to join a gym or purchase expensive exercise equipment. One of the best forms of exercise is walking. Start small and increase until you are comfortable. Not only does it assist with weight loss, it also stimulates the endorphins which makes you feel much happier. Physically, it assists your muscles and joints, increases your oxygen intake, and increases circulation. Thus, it is extremely important to your overall health and wellbeing.

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