One of the single most important things we can do to prevent health problems - including those associated with bladder and bowel control - is to maintain a proper weight. Researchers are increasingly identifying how body shape is a strong predictor of a number of chronic diseases. Science points to an expanding waist as a key indicator of pending problems. That's because it's where people tend to gain fat. But intra-abdominal fat is considered the most dangerous type. As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass, and it gets replaced with layers of fat cells if we don't alter our behavior. Our metabolism also slows, especially after menopause in women, reducing our caloric needs simply to maintain the same weight. So if we alter nothing in our eating and exercise habits, we will simply grow heavier and fatter, increasingly predisposed to cancers (prostate, colon & rectal, etc.), diabetes, heart disease, and yes - even urinary incontinence.
We Americans are continually being admonished about our obesity factor. This year, we learned that we're getting still fatter, as nine states were reported even higher levels of obesity than previously documented. None grew lighter. So instead of being redundant with the advice we've already heard time and time again, this posting offers five tips for how to build a belly.
1. Stop exercising. Although we know that regular exercise of moderate intensity - both aerobic and strength training - can help keep the weight from slowly being added, many of us remain couch potatoes. So don't use the stairs instead of elevators, use drive-in windows at every opportunity when doing errands, and don't establish a routine for exercise. Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill have found that overweight, postmenopausal women who spent 40 minutes five days a week bicycling, walking, and stretching lost seven percent of their intra-abdominal fat in just one year. This compared to those who made no changes and served as the "control" group and instead increased their intra-abdominal fat by an equal amount.
2. Eat out instead of in. Restaurants know their job is first and foremost to make food taste good, and fat and sugars accomplish that goal. On average, restaurant-prepared food has 25% more calories than similar dishes we prepare at home. We also tend to treat ourselves when we eat out, so we order hors d'oeuvres or dessert that we might otherwise pass up at home. And worse, portions are usually larger than what we serve ourselves. Even buffets encourage overeating because of the choices offered.
3. Sleep less. Researchers have known for some time that sleep deprivation is directly related to insulin resistance, explaining why people who sleep less are more likely to develop diabetes. Staying up late or getting up in the night also leads to increased snacking, another source of extra calories. If you have a sleep disorder such as apnea, don't do anything about it. Just keep growing your girth!
4. Drink your calories. One sure way to think you're eating lighter is to pack your calories into liquids. A chocolate mocha on the way to work is a better boost than an ordinary coffee with a sweetner and lowfat milk. Several alcoholic drinks in the evening are a great way to wind down a tough day, especially the vodka drinks with sweet tea or juice. And don't forget to sip on soda at your desk while you work instead of a glass of refreshing water from the cooler. Just drink your way to a bigger belly.
5. Embellish every bite. Life is short and the end gets closer as we age, so make every mouthful count. Don't let your dulling taste buds rob you of pleasure. Add cream cheese to that bagel already coated with butter and jam. Order your burger with cheese and bacon. Don't hold the mayo!
Published On: September 27, 2010