Sunday, July 31, 2016

Weight Management

I'm excited to announce that I'm working on a new specialty certification from ACE (American Council on Exercise), "Weight Management." I am about 25% through the learning material and the content of the material is a bit of a surprise to me.

It doesn't approach weight loss from a nutrition or exercise prescription, but rather, a more empathetic understanding of people's needs. I've been learning about the prevalence of weight bias. Even among health and fitness professionals, many assume normal weight individuals are "fit", and overweight individuals are "unhealthy." Research shows that one's lifestyle, exercise and nutritional habits, are far more indicative of overall health and longevity than a number on a scale. The certification material stresses the importance of creating a "weight neutral" environment. In a weight neutral environment, goals are set based on controllable factors, such as exercise frequency and nutritional intake. "Exercise and good nutrition are things you can do, weight is something that happens."

The educational materials also stress the importance of acknowledging unmodifiable genetic and previous lifestyle factors, and focusing on maximizing the health of whatever body we may have. I'll keep you updated on the later material in the certification, but for now, focus on the process of maximizing your health and how every day that you continue to make a commitment to your health is a goal achieved!

New research evaluates how many of us live a healthy lifestyle

Despite the billions of dollars spent on gym memberships, diet programs, and low-fat food options, American't don't seem to be getting any healthier. In fact, a recent paper published by the Mayo Clinic (Loprinzi et al. 2016) reports that fewer than 3% of American adults are living a healthy lifestyle.

The researchers in this study defined living a healthy lifestyle as meeting four parameters: being sufficiently active (150 mins of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each week), eating a healthy diet (based on a 24-hour recall), being a nonsmoker (serum cotinine level) and having a recommended body-fat percentage (5%-20% for men, and 8%-30% for women). Researchers then examined the association between having different combinations of these characteristics and several biomarkers for cardiovascular disease. The results from the study came from a survey of 4,745 adults.

Although many people accomplished multiple lifestyle goals--16% had three healthy characteristics and 37% had two--fewer than 3% met all four. Moreover, 11.1% met none of the criteria. Overall, the survey revealed the following:

71.5% did not smoke.
37.9% consumed a healthy diet.
9.6% had a normal body-fat percentage.
46.5% were sufficiently active.
2.7% had all four characteristics.
11.1% had none of the characteristics.THE BOTTOM LINE
This study does an excellent job of providing four concrete steps anyone can take to achieve a healthier lifestyle: Become a nonsmoker, be sufficiently active, eat a healthy diet, and achieve a recommended body-fat percentage. Of course, as the research reveals, none of these steps are easy to take. However, even small improvements matter, and any effort toward these lifestyle goals--even if it's below the defined threshold--can have a life-changing, or even life-saving, impact.

How many of these lifestyle goals are you currently accomplishing? What changes can you make to increase that number?