By Domenic Fraboni
For those who haven’t noticed, we are currently living in an epidemic. In today’s day and age, 1 out of 3 kids in the United States are overweight with one out of every six registering as obese. Over the past thirty years, the rate of obese adolescents in America has more than quadrupled. That is a staggering statistic. The efforts coming from the inSports foundation are just one way that we can begin to combat these numbers. Although it may be fairly obvious to many of us that our country is struggling with a little bit of a weight issue, I am going to try and explain how weight loss (and maintaining a healthy weight in general) may not be as daunting a task as many portray. It can simply be done one pound at a time.
So, I am guessing there are some people that have heard this little tidbit of trivia before: about one pound of stored fat is equivalent to 3500 food calories of energy. Knowing this, if we simply had a 500-calorie deficit (two snickers bars) each day, and times that by seven days a week; we would eliminate one pound of fat a week in a very sustainable fashion. Easy, right? All we need to do it eat two candy bars less OR burn 500 calories (equivalent to about a 45 minute jog) extra each day. If you noticed, I drew some attention to the 'or' in the last sentence. A study on dieting and exercise discovered that people who focus simply on eating less OR moving more, as a part of their weight loss plan, tend to exhibit compensatory behaviors. This means that someone who is trying to diet in order to lose weight compensates by being lazier, or if someone goes on a workout binge they start consuming way more calories. This is very valuable information because it helps us to understand that weight loss must come from a multi-directional approach. We need to be aware of both what we put in our bodies and how much we move our bodies. My father, a veteran Family Physician who has been in the medical field going on twenty years now, says to this day that weight loss is one of the most common topics he discusses with his patients. His answer, and to quote him, “Shut your damn mouth AND move your fat ass.” Once we have our multi-directional understanding, the process can come much easier.
Now, to reach our 500-calorie deficit per day we only need to burn 250 calories with activity and eat one less Snickers bar worth or calories each day. Now many people claim that they would love to be able to work out, but they simply do not have the time. Excuses, excuses I say. Don’t approach activity by saying you have to go to the gym and hammer out a 2-hour workout. Take it 250 calories/day at a time. This can be as simple as going on a 30-minute walk while you eat your sandwich and look at your phone on your lunch break. Maybe you could go outside and play with your kids for an extra half an hour before dinner instead of watching television. Screen time is absolutely killing the amount of activity that youth get every day. There are an abundance of small lifestyle changes that can add 250 calories to you and your family’s overall expenditure each day. Be creative! Then comes the nutrition. We won’t dive very deep today, because nutrition could be another string of articles in itself. My tip is: focus on empty calories. Instead of grabbing that handful of M&M’s from the bowl at reception, you can have a drink of water or chew a piece of gum instead. Vegetables or fruit with dinner instead of fries or a bag of chips. Like I said, 250 calories is only one Snickers bar. If you are creative, that is very doable.
Now that we have gone over how a 500-calorie deficit a day can be achieved with a little motivation and creative edge, we need to understand that this will not impact every individual in the same way. If you are someone who carries a little more body fat, these lifestyle changes may yield that one-pound per week of weight loss, as desired. For people that have more lean body mass, or already exercise regularly, the loss might be a little slower. This brings to me my final point. Weight loss is a long-term process. There are no cheap, quick, safe shortcuts to trimming pounds. Countless studies including, Efficacy of Commercial Weight-Loss Programs (published in Magazine of the American College of Physicians), found that the most successful weight loss comes with sustained commitment to lifestyle changes. Not by taking some mystery diet pill or following some fad diet plan. Why not make these lifestyle changes with your family? Be creative and start small. Simple lifestyle changes now can help you (and/or you kids) lose weight, but they may also help you with many other important health issues in the future. Hopefully we get to all of those health risks and benefits in future articles. Now, it is time to help inSports out by getting your kids active and living healthier lifestyles. To conclude, is it really that easy to lose a pound? In short, yeah I think it is.