Column: Overweight adults

When you were 16, you never had to get on your bath scale. But now that you are 60, your weight gain astounds you. It creeps up slowly until you're comfortably padded. It does not seem fair, now that you have the time to take extra care of your diet and health, your weight becomes uncontrollable.

When you enter those adult years, you first begin to notice a metabolism change about the age of 25. It is here that the onset of beginning obesity starts. There is a marked reduction in your energy expenditure due to work and lifestyle. Your food intake increases because of stress, social pressure and family life. When the age of 21 is reached, you add the extra calories of alcohol.

For women, childbirth begins a new dimension; mainly that of a newer, larger you. The extra weight gained during childbirth can be hard to remove. And if you compound the problem with another child before you lose the first weight gain, your weight will be even harder to remove.

It is a fact that the caloric needs for men and women lessen as we age. It is also a fact that there is a huge diet and weight loss industry out there just waiting for your fat; low fat diets, high carbohydrate and liquid diets, high protein and single food diets. There are food supplements and complete controlled menus; everything you could possibly want to help you back to your original 20-year-old shape. However, we all know that when you cease to follow the diet or take those supplements, you will bounce right back to that little pudgy body you hate.

The thing these diets don't teach you is good lifetime eating habits that will do away with the need to diet as you age. You need to change your energy habits. Find the time and energy to expend more energy during your day. Get a calorie counter and a calorie burning chart and add up all your calories for a day and the amount of calories you have burned. Your difference will show up in fat if you are not achieving enough physical activity to burn up what you eat.

Here are some hints that may help as you "mature." Only eat at mealtime and don't eat seconds. Stay away from a lot of breads, rolls and crackers. Eat slow, your belly will not know what you have eaten for 20 minutes, so don't give it any surprises. Quit before you are full and put your fork down between bites.

Here's a good suggestion. Don't eat while you watch television! How many of you do that? How about during that bridge game? Any nibbles at your elbow? Lastly, take small bites and chew slowly.

The hand to mouth movement has been with us since early childhood. It denotes security, relaxation and pleasure. It's hard to break this habit. If you can't control your diet, add a little more activity each year as you age.

Jerry Vance is certified by the American Council on Exercise and teaches fitness at the Carson City Community Center and for the American Lung Association.


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