BY HEATHER STANLEY
The month-long parade of holiday festivities is over. It’s 2015 and with every new year, Canadians create resolutions for themselves and try to achieve them. The most popular resolution is losing weight, which is why it is fitting that January is Weight Loss Awareness Month.
This month educates people about the risks associated with obesity and improving one’s health. According to Statistics Canada, approximately 6.3 million people, or one in four adult Canadians, were obese in 2012. This is 17.5 per cent higher than the rate in 2003. Obesity is measured as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.
It is evident that Canadians are less healthy. The two biggest factors are a lack of physical activity and improper eating. Processed foods are extremely popular because of hectic work and school schedules. Students are warned about the Freshman 15, where students gain up to 15 pounds during their first year. Although the real number is only about three to seven pounds, students are still gaining weight.
To try to combat their weight gain from the Christmas season, many go to the gym to exercise. Johnathan Abbott, head trainer of World Gym Kitchener, says an efficient training session is an hour. “If you’re only doing 20 minutes, basically your body is just starting to get into working out,” he said. “Your blood is flowing and your muscles are just starting to fatigue and then you stop. So you’re not getting the full benefits of an hour.” He suggests that 45 minutes is a good workout and a person should also have a cool-down and warm-up period of about five minutes each.
Although many exercise to get fit, many also exercise to help lower their risk of potential health problems. Common health issues associated with being overweight are depression and high blood pressure and cholesterol. The Heart and Stroke Foundation website states that there are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL cholesterol is often called the bad cholesterol because high levels in the blood promotes the buildup of plaque in the artery walls. HDLs on the other hand, are the good type of cholesterol.
Cholesterol is found in animal products, which includes meats, eggs and dairy products. LDLs are usually found in processed foods. If a person has too much cholesterol it can lead to serious problems such as heart disease.
Changing your eating habits and exercising can help lower your risk of health issues. Abbott suggests eating smaller portions and maintaining a certain number of calories.
“Try not to go between three to four hours without a meal, because then your body’s metabolism starts to lower,” Abbott said. “Keeping the metabolism up is basically the key to losing weight as quick as possible and gaining lean muscle.”
Another way to help change a person’s diet is to cook a bunch of meals all at once and pack the food away. That way a person is not pressed to cook food later and it helps them to stay away from restaurants and food with high calories that cause big weight gain.
“All you really need to do is focus on your nutrition and make things consistent in the gym,” Abbott said. “All of the results come outside the gym but you want to be consistently coming to the gym too. You want to have a plan and you want to have structure. So all that stuff, skinny wraps and stuff, they’re all gimmicks.”
To help children and adolescents get more physical activity, the Ontario government announced a partnership with Active at School six weeks ago. The goal of the partnership is to increase the amount of physical activity per day at schools for each child to an hour of fitness by 2018. The amount of physical activity required each day is currently only 20 minutes.