Keeping our figure and staying smart

Here is another great post by guest blogger Lisa Cleary:

There’s no doubt, as our body slows down, going into coasting mode instead of overdrive, that it becomes ever more difficult to retain that great figure we had before we hit 40-something and had a close encounter with menopause. The days when we could eat a box of cakes and see no difference has become a dim and distant memory recalled with fondness and occasional yearning; now we only have to look at or smell a cake and our waistline gets ready to expand a little further. Aging has a lot to answer for in this change in our body chemistry, when muscle mass tends to decrease and body fat increase, moving inexorably to the belly. We then commence our long term fight to lose that belly fat and tone our abdomen back into compliance. Keeping your figure over age 40

Other factors also come into play, as our families grow up and move away from home, our lives become more relaxed and we find ourselves with increased leisure time. When once we seemed to spend our days at a constant gallop between schools, home, the stores and doctors or dentists, we now have time to fill. With a long gap since we were involved in sport or other exercise, we have to re-adjust to consciously allocating time to keeping fit, whether we choose to visit the gym, take up jogging or swimming or perhaps opt for a spot of Zumba on a regular basis.

Why Light is Smart

While we may focus on keeping our curves in the right places and facing the right way, we should not lose sight of another benefit of keeping slimmer and fit as we mature.  Recent study has revealed that by losing that excess weight when we are older, our brain function may improve. Research carried out by the Endocrine Society followed the progress of 20 over 61 year old women over a period of six months during diet modification. At the close of six months, researchers found that the subjects had improved brain function, particularly in relation to face identification and matching. Their findings were that obesity-related impairment in memory function was reversible; and that brain activity during memory testing reflected this improvement. The altered brain activity suggests that the brain becomes more active when storing new memories and less active when retrieving old memories, suggesting that memorizing became more efficient and retrieval required less brain power than before weight loss was achieved.

Another study, led by John Gunstad of Kent State University, focused on 150 people with weight of an average 300 pounds. The researchers analyzed memory tests prior to 109 participants undergoing bariatric surgery, while the other 41 did not undergo any procedure. After twelve weeks, the participants were all asked to undertake the same memory tests again. The subjects who had undergone surgery, losing an average of 50 pounds in weight, showed an improvement in their cognitive skills, including memory and organizational skills. The morbidly obese participants, whose weight remained the same, exhibited a small decline in brain function.

Achieving our Goal

In order to be successful in achieving our weight loss target, we should understand how our body works with calories and exercise in regulating weight. Licensed Prescriptions summarizes the 10 most common myths there are about weight loss; and this is a great basis on which to build our new behavior patterns, as we now understand how our eating habits may affect our weight. To achieve our goal, we need to reduce our calorific intake, as well as ensuring we increase our exercise. To be of use to our health, particularly our heart and lungs, exercise should be energetic enough to increase heart rate and cause slight breathlessness. If we don’t manage this, our body burns far less calories and is unable to rid our body of the toxins which may have accumulated in muscles and soft tissues. To lose a pound in weight, we must reduce or burn off 3500 calories. That may seem hard work if we add up how many pounds overweight we are and then how many calories that represents. By working on eating 3500 less calories each week and taking regular exercise, we should be able to lose around 2 pounds a week in weight. Medical professionals say that to be healthy and to sustain a reduced weight, we should aim for a weight loss of around 1-2 pounds a week.

So to achieve and maintain a state of good physical and mental health, we need to ensure that our BMI stays within acceptable parameters. For many of us, that means changing our long term eating habits as well as exercising. The good news is that having achieved our goal, we will not only look smart, but will be smart too.

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