Hope and Healing: Obesity

A heart at peace gives life to the body — Proverbs 14:30

For most Americans the words “overweight” and “obese” trigger anxiety and frustration.  What we weigh and how we look in our clothes are essential parts of our personal image and when the pounds add up, we become distressed. There’s so much food in our country that we think about eating most of the time. Food advertisements, fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and vending machines are everywhere. Ironically, at the same time, we constantly worry about our weight. The result of recent studies suggests that it is reasonable to encourage the loss of small amounts of weight over long periods of time.

How Much Should You Weigh 

Researchers believe that if you are 20% over your ideal body weight your health can be seriously in danger.  The trouble is, no one is sure how to best measure your ideal weight. Charts like the Metropolitan Life Insurance Weight Tables don’t take into account family history, age, or race.

A better measurement is that of body fat, but this is not easy to do. Now, doctors are encouraged to use the body-mass index, which is also flawed.

The Body-Mass Index 

The main medical measure of a person’s weight is their Body Mass Index (BMI).  BMI is a measure of “body fatness” that looks at a person’s weight in relation to their height.  For example, a person 5 feet tall who weighs 200 pounds will have more body fat than a person 6 feet tall who weighs the same weight; therefore, the 5 foot person will have a greater BMI indicating more body fat.

Look at the BMI chart included. If you are 5 ft 10 inches tall and weight 167 pounds your BMI is 24, but, if you weigh 209 pounds at the same height your BMI increases to 30.

BMI Chart

OVERWEIGHT OBESE
 BMI 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39
 Height Weight (lbs)
 5′ 118 123 128 133 138 143 148 153 158 164 169 174 179 184 189 194 199
 5′ 1″ 122 127 132 137 143 148 153 158 164 169 174 180 185 190 195 201 206
 5′ 2″ 126 131 136 142 147 153 158 164 169 175 180 186 191 196 202 207 213
 5′ 3″ 130 135 141 146 152 158 163 169 175 180 186 192 197 203 208 214 220
 5′ 4″ 134 140 145 151 157 163 168 174 180 186 192 198 204 209 215 221 227
 5′ 5″ 138 144 150 156 162 168 174 180 186 192 198 204 210 216 222 228 234
 5′ 6″ 142 148 155 161 167 173 179 186 192 198 204 210 216 223 229 235 241
 5′ 7″ 146 153 159 166 172 178 185 191 198 204 210 217 223 229 236 242 248
5′ 8″ 151 158 164 171 177 184 190 197 203 210 217 223 230 236 243 249 256
5′ 9″ 155 162 169 176 182 189 196 203 209 216 223 230 236 243 250 257 264
 5′ 10″ 160 167 174 181 188 195 202 209 216 223 230 236 243 250 257 264 271
 5′ 11″ 165 172 179 186 193 200 208 215 222 229 236 243 250 258 265 272 279
 6′ 169 177 184 191 199 206 213 221 228 235 243 250 258 265 272 280 287
 6′ 1″ 174 182 189 197 204 212 219 227 234 242 250 257 265 272 280 287 295
 6′ 2″ 179 186 194 202 210 218 225 233 241 249 256 264 272 280 288 295 303
 6′ 3″ 184 192 200 208 216 224 232 240 247 255 263 271 279 287 295 303 311
 6′ 4″ 189 197 205 213 221 230 238 246 254 262 271 279 287 295 303 312 320
 6′ 5″ 193 203 210 218 227 236 244 252 260 268 278 286 294 302 310 320 328
 6′ 6″ 198 209 216 224 232 242 250 258 266 274 284 293 301 310 318 327 336
 6′ 7″ 203 214 221 229 238 248 257 265 273 281 290 300 309 317 325 335 345
 6′ 8″ 208 219 226 235 244 254 263 271 279 288 297 307 317 324 333 343 353

How does your BMI measure up: 

BMI < 25 is considered a healthy weight

Between 25-29 is Overweight

30 or greater is Obese

40 or greater is Extreme or Morbid Obesity

What does this mean for your health?

Overweight – If you are overweight your risk for developing health problems increases (diabetes, health disease, arthritis, stroke, high cholesterol, etc.), but you are not at a greater risk of dying.

Obese – This is associated with a higher overall death rate and a greater risk for: Diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease and heart failure, strokes, gallstones, acid reflux, erosive esophagitis and esophageal cancer, blood clots, dementia, arthritis, sleep apnea, cancers, kidney disease, depression.

 Body Shape          

Where your body stores its excess fat makes a lot of difference when it comes to your risk of developing heart disease. The body of some men is said to be “apple shaped” because of the fat stored around their belt line. Women typically store fat lower on the body and become “pear shaped.” You can determine the risk of developing heart trouble by measurement of the waist-to-hip ratio.  Follow these steps:

  1. Measure your waist at the navel with a tape measure.
  2. Measure around your hips and buttocks at the largest part.
  3. Divide your waist measurement by your hip size.  This is your waist to hip ratio.  Men should be less than 1.0, women less than 0.8.

If your ratio is higher than normal you have a greater that normal chance of developing heart trouble and should move to get the fat off.

What Can Hurt You When You Try to Lose Weight 

Drugs.  Pills have no place in a weight-loss plan.

Fad Diets.  Bouncing from one diet to another like a yo-yo makes losing weight more difficult next time.

What Works                              

  • Self-help Groups when combined with a balanced diet and an exercise program can be a big help.
  • Changes in behavior.  Treat overeating like an addiction. Develop a serious, sensible plan of getting weight off and keeping it off.  If you slip, figure out what went wrong. Begin again. Anticipate temptations. 75% of your slipping into old habits will come during the following danger periods:
  1. When you are bored, tense, angry, or frustrated.
  2. When you’ve had an argument at home or at work.
  3. While attending a party, business lunch, a reunion, a church social, any event where large amounts of food are served.

Why An Exercise Program Works

Our bodies are programed to resist weight loss. One theory is the “set-point” theory.  Studies show that the brain has a kind of thermostat setting to keep your weight where it is. We inherit this tendency to keep a certain set point and overriding it is possible, but not easy.  It can be done in two ways: first, through exercise, and second by reducing the caloric and sugar content in our diets.

A Reasonable Approach 

No one has all the answers. Study these steps until they become your plan.  Do your own thinking about the best way to get it done for you personally.  We all have different ways of life, different circumstances, and different schedules. Make these steps fit your lifestyle. You will need:

  • A changed and sensible way of eating.
  • A change in behavior.
  • Help from others.
  • An exercise program.
  • You will need to consider how your plan will affect your family, job, leisure activities.
  • You will need to make your future health a major priority.

Steps To Success               

  • In a small notebook, keep a food diary for one week.  Write down what you ate, when, how many calories it contained and how you were feeling.  Focus on getting rid of the parts of your diet that are killing you.
  • Work with your doctor.  Ask your doctor to help you develop an exercise plan. Agree upon a target weight with your doctor.
  • Get your kitchen ready.  Get rid of packaged food and all desserts except fruits.
  • Always eat breakfast.
  • Join a self-help group, or form one of your own.
  • Put it on your calendar to weigh in at your doctor’s office once a month.
  • Become familiar with your exercise program.  Buy exercise clothes.  Lay them out the evening before you plan to exercise.  Go to your appointed exercise place every time you’re scheduled, whether you feel like it or not.

Summary 

Start simply. Congratulate yourself with each step accomplished.  Decide for yourself that this is the most important step in your life.  Don’t let anyone’s negative words create doubts that you can do it. Be gentle with yourself when you slip.  Put exercise, and a no fat way of eating above everything else so that down the road when you have reached your goal, there’ll be a lot more life to enjoy.