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The Downside of Excess Body Fat

 

 
     Everybody knows that being significantly overweight can cause negative effects on our body.  We all understand that rarely does an obese individual live into their 80's or 90's and if they do, they are typically disabled.  If we understand that this is occurring to our body, why would we not work harder to lean out our body and reduce the potential negative effects?
 
     There are several factors at play here.  First off, it is difficult for our minds to consider that we are doing something harmful to ourselves.  We make simple justifications for it and because the effects are insidious and take years to manifest, we put the negative reality in the back of our mind.  This is true of excess body weight, smoking, excessive drinking of alcohol, and any behaviour that will ultimately make us ill or shorten our lives.
 
     Next, we get significant pleasure from eating rich foods.  Our brain is geared to respond to pleasure and to avoid pain.  Problem is, since we don't feel the pain as we slowly create a bad situation, our brain focuses mostly on the pleasurable aspect of eating.  How many times have you had the conversation in your head when deciding whether to eat a dessert or not?  "I really shouldn't, but maybe just this time."  We set aside our goals for a moment of pleasure.
 
     We can learn to eat the occasional high calorie treat and incorporate it into a planned healthy diet.  As the body increases it's percentage of fat, negative things begin to happen.  Total body inflammation goes up which can lead to a stress on our immune system.  This inflammation can slowly damage our tissues and organ functions and more rapidly advance the aging process.
 
     Excess body fat can lead to insulin resistance and the process of glucose intolerance and diabetes.  Higher insulin levels and higher glucose (sugar) levels result in added inflammation and slow damage to our blood vessels.  As this injury to our blood vessels occurs, fat sneaks under our blood vessel linings and creates plaque formation in our artery walls.  The inflammation process ramps up.  As inflammation in our blood vessels grows the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and leg circulation blockages grows.
 
     This blood vessel inflammation is a critical factor in the development of dementia as we age.  Damaged blood vessel linings in the brain appear to be a consistent hallmark of Alzheimer's Disease and Vascular Dementia.  The slow methodical breakdown of our tissues and our health are found at the end of a fork.
 
     As our body weight increases, greater stress is placed on our bones and joints. Spinal compression occurs and greater likelihood of disc displacement and nerve compression occurs.  Cartilage damage in our joints accelerates and arthritis develops.  Bladder and bowel problems multiply and sexual function declines.  The stress of added weight reduces our capacity to function day after day.
 
     Obesity and excess body size are major contributors to Sleep Apnea.  Decreased breathing depth and oxygen deprivation during sleep increase the risk of cancer and diabetes 3 fold.  There is a 5 times increase in mortality from cancer with Sleep Apnea and a 23 times greater risk of heart attack from this condition.  Weight reduction is the main treatment for sleep apnea.
 
     The downside of excess body weight is the incredible stress and strain on our normal function.  Our body will compensate as long as possible, but eventually is subdued by the persistent strain and begins to break down.  For most people, it is only when the break downs start to occur that concern rises.  In many cases when this occurs, recovery may not be achieved but only maintenance of new disease processes can be done.  No matter what our age, now is the time to begin a total health improvement plan.  Weight reduction is one of the core factors in becoming more healthy.
 
     One thing we have learned from the COVID 19 Pandemic is that the risk of a bad outcome and death is dramatically higher in overweight and obese patients.  This virus is still spreading through the world and until a solid vaccine or a full proof treatment is found, the best treatments, after avoidance of the virus, is weight reduction, consistent exercise, and smoking cessation
 
     On a very positive note, our body starts to respond to weight loss quickly.   A five pound weight reduction begins to reduce inflammation immediately.  A daily walk also cuts inflammation levels in a short time period.  A 10 to 20 pound weight reduction adds energy and enhanced wellbeing.  Reducing our body weight by 10% significantly reduces the risk of other disorders and adds additional healthy years to our lives.
 
     The underlying reason most people want to lose excess body weight is to look and feel better.  This is a great reason.  Remember that as you begin to look your best, you are adding years to your life.  This life enhancing process of body size reduction will allow us to Live Lean, Live Long, and Live Life to the Fullest.

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The Big Picture

We are now tired of being overweight and have made the decision to lose excess body fat and get to a leaner place. 

Never Alone

When we make the personal decision to start losing weight and get healthy, it's typically done in a quiet conversation inside our head.  We don't trumpet this decision to the world. 

The Little Things

 We want to lose weight now and lots of it.  We are disappointed if we only lose 8 pounds in a month.  We go for any program that promises big and fast weight loss. 

Barriers to Weight Loss

 We all want to be at our best weight.  We want to look good, feel good, and be full of energy.  We all know that carrying less body fat and overall body weight will help us achieve these goals. 

Many Measures

Many of my patients and people, in general, get fixated on the scales.  I think the scales are important and tracking our body weight is a great measure of getting leaner.