Ester Marsh: Still carrying around excess weight?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 1, 2023

Are you still carrying around excess weight, whether it was because of COVID closings or inactivity due to maybe an injury or surgery? I read that many Americans still have anywhere from a few pounds to more than 20 pounds extra they are carrying. A poll by the American Heart association says that 15 percent gained 1-3 pounds, 34 percent say they gained 4-6 pounds, 26 percent say 7-9 pounds, 21 percent say 10-20 pounds and 4 percent report 21 pounds or more. And having the Y and other places of fitness closed during the pandemic did not help at all.

However, that was in 2020 and it is now April 2023. We are finally seeing the numbers come back to exercise. And it makes me happy! Before I go further, I want to do a quick explanation on last week’s column about spot reduction. I was asked when “sucking it in” why it would not be considered spot reduction. By keeping your core engaged the muscles absolutely will get stronger. It will also appear smaller; because you are not letting it all hang loose. When I mentioned spot reduction, I meant to actually get rid of the fat in those places. You cannot lose fat on a specific area through exercise. It might go away there but your body will pick where it is coming from. And to reiterate, you must eat to lose fat!

Again, for our health we need to move and eat healthy foods but stay within our caloric usage. Gaining weight puts a great strain on our body, especially our joints. So how many calories should you eat? Typically, an average female needs 2,000 calories to maintain her weight and 1,500 calories per day to lose one pound per week.

An average male needs 2,500 to maintain and 2,000 calories to lose one pound per week. To lose one pound you need to burn 3,500 calories. It’s very doable to cut 500 calories per day so 3,500 calories in a week therefore losing one pound. Losing it slower typically keeps the weight off versus losing it quick with a very strict diet you can’t wait to stop (and regain the weight you lost so fast).

And of course, move! Try to shoot for 10,000 steps per day. Most phones and many watches will keep up with your steps per day. Even if 10,000 steps sound like a lot, and for many people, too high of a goal to start with. Check a “normal” day and see how many steps you have. It might be only 3,000 steps, so shoot for 4,000 steps. Each week, increase your steps until you get at least 10,000 steps per day. Just know that is it’s never too late to start — or start again!

In my experience, people are more successful when they plan and record their food intake and their exercise routine. Be mindful about the foods and drinks you put in your body and plan your exercise routines. When going to the store, park farther away. At home, try to be deliberate to get up regularly, limit your TV time and screen time. The more screen time, the less you move. But most of all, do not give up and keep trying. I know you can do it. Be mindful, patient and determined!

Ester H. Marsh is health and fitness director of the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA.