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Posts Tagged ‘Weight gain’

WebMD – How to Avoid Gaining Weight When You Quit Smoking

Posted by 4love2love on July 26, 2011

By Peter Jaret
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Many smokers worry that they’ll gain weight if they try to quit. Some even use that concern as a reason not to quit.

“That’s a bad idea for many reasons,” says Scott McIntosh, PhD, associate professor of community and preventive medicine at the University of Rochester in New York and director of the Greater Rochester Area Tobacco Cessation Center. “Not every smoker who quits gains weight.” Even those who do, he points out, gain on average just 4 to 10 pounds.

Indeed, for many ex-smokers, putting on a few pounds is healthy. Research shows that smoking actually makes some people unhealthily thin.

Still, if you’re worried, remember this: a few simple strategies can help limit weight gain while you kick the habit. Once you have successfully broken the addiction to tobacco, you can work on losing any weight you’ve gained.

Smoking and Metabolism

Research shows that nicotine from tobacco boosts the body’s metabolic rate, increasing the number of calories it burns. Immediately after you smoke a cigarette, your heart rate increases by 10 to 20 beats a minute. The unnatural stimulant effect of nicotine is one reason smoking causes heart disease.

When smokers quit, metabolic rate quickly returns to normal. That’s a healthy change. But if ex-smokers keep getting the same number of calories as before, they put on pounds.

Be Smart About What You Put in Your Mouth

When smokers quit, nicotine isn’t all they crave. They also discover that they miss the habit of lighting a cigarette and putting it to their mouths. Many smokers turn to food to satisfy this so-called need for “oral gratification.”

That’s fine if it helps you to quit. But by choosing low-calorie or zero-calorie foods, you can avoid putting on weight. Some smart alternatives include:

  • Sugar-free gum
  • Sugar-free hard candies
  • Celery or carrot sticks
  • Sliced sweet peppers
  • Slices of jicama

Experiment to find which alternatives work best for you. Research shows that some smokers who quit experience a sharpened “sweet tooth.” They’re better off finding foods sweetened with artificial sugar. Some smokers really miss the oral gratification of smoking. They do best finding alternatives that require unwrapping something and chewing or sucking on it, such as sugar-free gum and hard candy.

Another trick is to brush your teeth frequently throughout the day. This can satisfy a passing craving for oral gratification. When your mouth is fresh and clean, you may have less of an urge to smoke.

Avoid Crash Diets

Choose healthy foods that are rich in nutrients and low in calories whenever you can. But experts advise against radical changes in how you eat. “Quitting is tough enough without adding the stress of extreme dieting,” says Steven Schroeder, MD, director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of San Francisco.

Be Realistic in Your Expectations

Many smokers do gain some weight. It’s fine to resolve to do everything you can to keep your weight down. But don’t make weight a make-or-break issue. “It’s important to tell yourself right at the beginning that it’s OK to put on some weight,” says McIntosh. “Don’t be too tough on yourself.”

Stay Busy

To distract yourself from the urge to smoke, fill your day with things to do that don’t involve eating. Physical activities — walking, gardening, doing chores — are a great choice. They burn calories, of course. And research shows that they also have a positive effect on mood. But any kind of distraction from the urge to smoke will help. Examples include:

  • Watching a movie
  • Attending a concert
  • Going to the library to read
  • Visiting a local museum
  • Calling a friend
  • Volunteering

“Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to find smoke-free places to go these days,” says Schroeder. “That trend has helped to make it easier for smokers to quit.”

Talk With Your Doctor

A variety of products and medications are available that have been found to help smokers quit. Several also appear to help quitters keep weight off. In a 2009 review, researchers found that the antismoking drug buproprion and the antidepressant fluoxetine, as well as nicotine replacement therapies and cognitive behavioral therapy, helped limit the amount of weight that smokers gained while quitting.

Keep Your Health in Perspective

If you do gain extra pounds while you kick the habit, don’t let that derail your efforts. “By quitting smoking, you can add years to your life — and years of being in good health rather than sick and disabled,” says McIntosh. “Those extra pounds are a small price to pay.” Once you’re tobacco-free, you’ll have plenty of time to get into shape and achieve a healthy weight.

Reviewed on January 24, 2011
© 2011 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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WebMD – Expert Q&A: Fighting Midlife Weight Gain

Posted by 4love2love on July 26, 2011

An interview with Pamela Peeke, MD
By Kathleen Doheny
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

First, you notice shopping for clothes isn’t as fun or simple as it used to be. Next comes the “muffin top” spilling over the jeans. Then the scale delivers dire news: You’re 10, 15, maybe 20 pounds beyond your “normal” weight.

Midlife weight gain is common. Many Americans gain a pound or so every year as they make their way through young adulthood, ending up fat and flabby at age 40 and beyond.

But it is not inevitable, says Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, the author of the best-seller Fight FatAfter Forty. Peeke also serves as the chief medical correspondent for Discovery Health TV and often appears as a medical commentator on television news and talk shows.

Why do so many people gain weight in midlife?

Blame it on hormones in convergence with poor lifestyle choices, overeating, not exercising enough, and stress.

But hormones only account for about 2 to 5 pounds. The rest is the result of overeating, poor lifestyle choices — such as not exercising enough — and stress.

How can I not be one of those people who gains?

The keys are three: mind, mouth, muscle.

Use your mind to control stress. If you walk around and everything is stressful, you have a problem. You may respond to stress by making poorer lifestyle choices, such as not eating healthfully and not exercising enough.

Look at your nutrition — in terms of quality, quantity, and frequency of eating. You should eat often.

Quality is all about eating whole foods, fruits, and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein.

Processed foods are bad. Anything that comes in a family-size bag, turn in the opposite direction and run.

Quantity is where a lot of people fall. The majority are baffled by what a serving size should look like. When eating out, and in doubt, eat half of it or less.

Be accountable for calories. You need a general idea of how many calories you need. An average woman, not an athlete, in her 40s or 50s, needs about 1,500 to 1,600 calories a day, on average, if she is exercising. A middle-aged man, average height and not an athlete but exercising, needs about 1,800 to 2,000.

Muscle, of course, refers to the need to exercise and, of course, to weight train.

Should my goal weight increase when I hit midlife?

A better goal than focusing on scale weight is to keep track of body fat. The goals should be to decrease body fat and optimize bone strength.

For a man, a body fat percentage of 18% to 25% is not bad for 40-plus. For women 40-plus, 22% to 27% is not bad.

To get that body fat percentage, you need to have excellent fitness to maintain a good muscle base.

Also, a man should have a waist circumference below 40 inches and a woman below 35 inches.

I’m 40-plus, eating right, and exercising but not losing weight. Why do I have midlife weight gain?

If you have tailored your portion sizes to ones that are appropriate, look at the frequency of your eating. Eat every three or four hours. But not too late at night. The later you eat, the lighter you eat is a good rule.

Eat a balance of lean protein, fats, and carbs. Make the fat good fat, not palm oil or hydrogenated oil, but high-quality good fats [such as those in nuts]. The protein should be lean — a turkey burger or a veggie burger.

Most people have been doing the same exercise routine for years, and your body acclimates. Fat cells at 40 are reticent to give it up. Mix up the exercise routine. Exercise at least five times a week, and I mean cardio.

Add intensity. Add some level of weight training, and challenge yourself with the weights. [Getting professional instruction is advised if you’re a novice.] Weight train two or three times a week.

Building muscle gives you that metabolic edge, since muscle mass burns more calories than fat.

Does HRT cause midlife weight gain, is that the culprit?

You can’t blame the low doses of HRT in use today for midlife weight gain, at least not for any more than a few pounds. You do get a little more bloated on it, but it does not cause body fat accumulation. Overeating, not exercising, and stress do.

What’s up with this belly? I never ever had one before.

I call it the menopot. On a man, it’s the manopot.

Excess body fat occurring in the lower abdomen is associated with aging, after 40. This excess body fat in the normal range is usually only 2 to 5 pounds. And you do get a little pooch.

How can I lose this belly?

You minimize it by following the mind-mouth-muscle concepts.

But it’s probably unrealistic to expect a stomach as flat as your 20-something stomach.

Can I boost my metabolism?

Absolutely. You can optimize your metabolism throughout life relative to your age by maintaining the highest level of training you can, within the limits and constraints of your life.

If you lose muscle mass [by not exercising], obviously your metabolism is going to drop.

Of course strength or weight training is crucial.

What workout or workouts are best for midlife people?

Creative cardio. Burn 400 to 500 calories a day in cardio. On the elliptical, for instance, you can burn about 400 calories in about 35 minutes. Cross train as much as you can. Burn the 400 to 500 calories all at once or accrue it.

And don’t forget the weight training.

What’s your weakness? What’s the hardest part, for you, of staying on track and fighting flab after 40?

Because of long days and all my commitments, getting enough sleep. I remind myself: the poorer your sleep, the wider your girth.

Eating dinner not too late. Sometimes I am on a plane or a train, I don’t have the control I want over how late I eat. In general, do not eat dinner past 8:30. I like to eat right about 7.

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