Sunday, 16 February 2014

Join the rest of Australia and get behind Healthy Weight Week!

With Healthy Weight Week fast approaching I thought I'd take a look at some of the first steps to take if you're trying to lose weight. So what is Healthy Weight Week? It's an initiative by the Dietitian's Association of Australia (DAA) to increase awareness of the importance of enjoying a healthy weight and lifestyle. Running from the 17th-23rd February, there are many events happening around the country, run by Dietitians. For more info and plenty of great tips and resources check out their website here.

But first things first: what is a Dietitian?

A Dietitian has undertaken a university degree to study nutrition science but also supervised professional practice in the areas of clinical nutrition, community programs and food service management as well as a research component. Dietetics is a specialised field of nutrition and allows us to work in hospitals or the community undertaking client-centred care to plan appropriate diets based on individual needs, wants and capabilities

An Accredited Practising Dietitian is recognised by the DAA and will tailor an advice and an eating plan to your goals and lifestyle. We support and motivate you to make the changes you need to make and work with you on what you feel you can realistically achieve. To find out more about Dietitians and APDs, check out the DAA website here.

So what's the big deal with being a healthy weight?

We know that nearly 2 in 3 Australian adults and 1 in 4 Australian children are overweight or obese (based on the Australian Health Service; see ABS 2012) and that unfortunately, these statistics just keep rising.

Obesity isn't just the result of how many kilojoules (or calories) you consume, or how rarely you go to the gym. There are so many causes and it could be that one or all of these have contributed to your weight gain:
  • Genetics- your genes can make you more susceptible to gaining weight
  • Metabolism- how well your body converts food into energy
  • Nutrition- what and how much you eat. Remember, not all foods are equal when it comes to nutrients or kilojoule content, or how well your body will use or store it.
  • Exercise- the energy you use when exercising comes from the food you eat. Eat more than you need and you won't be able to use it all up so it will get converted to fat as storage.
  • Psychology- there is a huge behavioural influence on what and how much you eat. Think emotional eating, peer pressure, the media and strange looks when you turn down cake at a birthday party!
  • Social surroundings- we live in an 'obesogenic society' meaning all around us are cues encouraging us to gain weight: fast food chains around every corner, supermarkets open 24/7, sedentary day jobs and a lack of safe bike or walking paths in your neighbourhood.
  • Lifestyle- think not enough sleep, too much alcohol or eating at all hours of the day and night which alters our body clock and can affect our digestion and metabolism.
While how much you eat is a large factor in how much
you'll weigh, there are many other causes of obesity.

What's the worst thing that will happen if I keep doing what I'm doing?

Obesity is a lifestyle disease and a risk factor for many other diseases and health problems such as:
  • Shorter life expectancy- overweight and obese people have a 50-100% increased risk of dying before their time.
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Some types of cancer (such as breast, uterine, colon, etc)
  • Digestive disorders (such as reflux)
  • Breathing and sleep difficulties
  • Problems with fertility
  • Psychological issues including social isolation or depression
What about day-to-day life? Normal daily activities become difficult as you will find it hard to move and become short-of-breath and tired easily, you may have to rethink how you get places as seats on public transport become too small and you may need to hire someone to help you shower and go to the toilet and make a sandwich as it all becomes too difficult for you. Sound like a good life? I didn't think so.

You may have to rethink how you get places as seats on public transport
become too small... Sound like a good life? I didn't think so."

Convinced? Ready to change? OK here's what you do now...

Worried you'll be tempted by that cafe you always drive past on your way to work? Remove the temptation and change your route to work.
  1. Make some nutrition and exercise goals and make sure you share them with friends or family so you'll hold yourself accountable. You'll need specific strategies to help you achieve these, such as switch to reduced-fat dairy and cut takeaway from three times a week to once a week. These should be small and simple to begin with and you can build on them once you've achieved them. For more ideas of goals see my blog post called 'small changes that can add up to a big difference to your weight'.
  2. Think about some of the barriers that might make it difficult for you to achieve those goals and come up with solutions so you're ready when these problems arise. 
  3. Start with a baseline of your health so you'll be able to really see the changes when they happen! Take a before photo, step on the scales, measure your waist circumference with a tape measure and visit the doctor to get your blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels checked.
  4. Keep a food and exercise diary, recording what and how much you eat and when, as well as what exercise you do, for how long and when (this could also include household chores).
  5. Book an appointment with a Dietitian who can give you specific weight loss advice and show you which changes will make the most impact on your weight.

1 comment:

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