You may have observed that the people of America are getting heavier and heavier. According to the Fulton County Medical Center, about 40 percent of the county’s population can be described as overweight and an additional 20 percent as obese. Approximately 20 to 24 percent of our students, kindergarten thru 12, are considered obese. Obesity has become one of America’s major health concerns, and Fulton County is no exception. Controlling our weight is a lifelong process, and it can be as simple or as complicated as we want to make it. The fact is that if you take in more calories than you use, those calories will be stored as extra energy (fat).
We get our energy from the foods we eat. Our body then uses the energy from those calories to fuel our daily activities. According to Webster’s Dictionary, “A calorie is a unit used to measure the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water one degree centigrade.” In other words a calorie is a measurement of energy and this energy is found in our food. We all need a certain amount of energy to go through our daily activities. Unfortunately, many of us are either consuming too much energy, or we are not active enough to use the calories that we consume.
Weight control need not be such a difficult task. We must remember that nearly everything we eat contains calories. Each individual needs a minimal number of calories each day to carry out their normal activities; this is called your BMR or basal metabolic rate. This is actually the number of calories you would use if you stayed in bed all day. You can determine what your BMR is by checking www.bmr-calculator.net Web site. This site uses your height, weight, age and sex to determine that number. On an average, an adult male needs approximately 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day and an adult female about 1,800 to 2,000; more if you are very active and less if you are sedentary. Once you have determined your BMR, you need to determine how many calories you are actually consuming daily.
An easy way to do this is to list the foods and the amounts that you eat each day. Make sure you list every- thing including snacks and beverages. You need to remember that nearly everything we eat has calories, and you may be surprised at the amount and number of calories that you are consuming. There are various Web sites such as www.calorie- infoods.com or www.lifelongfitnesstips.com, or check out books in the library, that will help you determine the exact number of calories in the foods you have consumed. When we determine our actual intake of calories we need to compare it with the number of calories we need to function in our normal activities.
Once the above has been determined, we simply adjust the number of calories that we consume (calories in), or we adjust the number of calories we use during the day (calories out). Remember every time you move you are burning calories. Therefore, the more physically active you are the more calories you use. A common rule is that for every 3,500 extra calories taken in we store it as one pound of fat. For example, if you consume 2,500 calories a day, but you only use 2,000 calories, you would gain one pound a week or about 52 pounds of fat a year.
Our goal in our daily routines should be to eat healthy, small portions of nutritious foods and maintain a high level of physical activity. Many experts are suggesting 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day. This does not mean we must jog for an hour or work out in the gym for 45 minutes. Some simple ways to burn calories (calories out) would be to park your car farther away from the store and walk the extra distance, take the stairs instead of the elevator, push mow rather than ride.
We simply need to be conscious of the calories we are consuming (calories in) and adjust our physical activity (calories out) accordingly to maintain a healthy weight for the rest of our lives. You will look better, have more energy and be more resistant to disease when you are at your healthy weight.