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An ideal body weight is one of the best things you can do for your heart health

Achieving a healthy body weight will help lower your risk of heart disease

For those with excess body weight... did you know that even a small weight loss will help lower your risk of developing diseases?

Scientific literature worldwide shows that excess body weight is clearly linked to heart disease.

People who are overweight or obese have a greater chance of developing high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol or other lipid disorders, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers.

Here's an alarming statistic. Two thirds of North American adults over age 20 are overweight or obese.

Lose weight = reduce your risk.

A US study released in December 2008 in the journal Circulation tracked the health of 21,094 male doctors for two decades. It found that even those who were just modestly overweight had a higher risk of heart disease - and the risk grew with the amount of extra weight. The risk of heart failure increased by 180% in men who were obese (a BMI of over 30) and by 49% in men who were overweight (a BMI of 25 to 30).

Lean and active people have the lowest risk of heart disease and obese and inactive people have the highest risk.

Can you use this as a motivator?

We know it's easier said than done to lose weight - that's for sure. But here are some resources that can help.

But first...have you won the battle of the bulge? Are you having trouble winning the battle? Send us your tips and your barriers so we can share them with others.

Here are some tips:

  • Avoid fad diets - they're not healthy and they're not sustainable. You may lose weight initially but once you stop the fad diet you'll put it all back on, and as studies have shown, often gain even more body weight. We've chosen a Paleo lifestyle (not a diet, but a way of life!) because we feel it's the healthiest option for us! Find out what works for you. To learn more about low carbohydrate and Paleo eating check out the books in the right column. Also click here for additional resources.

  • Avoid processed or prepared foods.They tend to be high in sugar, carbohydrates, sodium (salt), and empty calories, and will sabotage your efforts to shed the pounds.

  • Get exercising! Use the Smart Heart Living fitness log to record your activity and your body weight. Tracking your activities helps keep you motivated to stay on a regular schedule. Check out the Smart Heart Living exercise page for lots of tips, information and advice about this important aspect of your heart healthy lifestyle.

  • Know your target body weight and/or body mass index (BMI).

  • Weigh yourself, but less often - once a week or once every two weeks instead of every day. Try weighing yourself on Fridays. That way you can splurge a bit on the weekend, but have all week to make sure you're eating healthily and exercising regularly to maintain your desired body weight. If you notice you've gained a few pounds, cut back immediately.

  • Don't get too hung up on pounds and ounces - you're better to go by how your clothes fit. If they're snug, cut back.

  • Eat smaller portions. Use smaller plates so your portions look "full". Eat until you feel full but don't feel that you must "clean your plate" as you were probably told to do as a youngster.

  • Eat slowly. This allows your stomach to "catch up". When you eat quickly your body does not register "full" until you have eaten too much. Plus, chewing your food really well is a huge aid to the beginning of digestion.

  • Don't skip breakfast. Your body needs fuel in the morning after not eating all night. That's why it's called "break fast." I used to skip breakfast and head straight to the office. No more. I eat a healthy breakfast and feel better for it. But if you are not convinced yet, studies show that adults (and children) who eat breakfast are generally leaner than those who don't. Probably because breakfast eaters tend to eat fewer calories later in the day.

  • Don't eat in front of the television. If you're absorbed in what you are watching, you're not paying attention to how much you are eating. Plus we tend to choose high calorie, high carb and low quality snack foods to munch on when watching TV.

  • Avoid eating in the evening, especially less than two hours before you go to bed. If you need to eat, choose healthy foods such as some raw vegetables or a few nuts.

  • Keep an eating journal. By keeping a food log or diary you will be more aware of what you eat, when you eat, and what triggers certain eating behaviors. Many people have found this to be extremely helpful in changing their habits - for good!

  • Read labels when shopping. Look for no trans fats, hidden sugars, high carbohydrates. In general avoid packaged foods as much as possible.

  • Buy only foods that are heart healthy. For example, I can't resist chips. If I don't have them in the house I don't crave them, but when they're there, I can't leave them alone! If you're like me... and a lot of other people... out of sight, out of mind is the best policy!

  • Shop after you've had a meal. Studies show that most people are likely to buy more snack foods and foods high in sugar and carbs if they shop when they are hungry.

  • Enlist your family and friends for support - they can be a tremendous help.

  • Skip the soda pop. It contains a HUGE amount of sugar (as much as 10 teaspoons per can!) not to mention a lot of other unnatural ingredients. If you drink it every day it can add up to unwanted pounds. You're MUCH better off drinking water.

  • Follow our tips for eating out to make smart heart choices.

  • If you've had a long battle with the bulge, consider trying hypnosis. Check out the numerous self-hypnosis weight-loss, diet and body image programs starting from about $30. You can order a free info CD that contains information, not hype. Best of all, the programs from the site we link to come with a one year money back guarantee.

Time for some waist management!

You may have heard recently that where you carry your extra body weight can be a predictor of heart disease. Researchers have found that people who wear their excess body weight around their middles (those with apple shape figures) are at greater risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease. The key is the waist to hip ratio - the higher the ratio, the higher the risk.

Here's how to determine your waist to hip ratio:

1. Measure your waist. Measure on bare skin, just above your hipbones at the narrowest part of your waist. Keep the tape measure snug but not tight.

2. Measure your hips. Again measure on bare skin, placing the tape measure snugly (but not indenting your skin) around the widest part of your hips and derriere.

Your waist to hip ratio is waist measurement divided by hip measurement. For example, if you waist measures 30 inches divided by your hip measurement of 38, your waist to hip ratio is .79.

For women, you are said to be at risk if your ratio is greater than .85.
For men, you are at greater risk if you ratio is greater than .90.

You can't change your body type, but you can control your body weight - hence your waist to hip ratio - through a healthy diet and exercise.

Drugs can cause weight gain

Have you tried and tried to lose body weight without success? It could be that you are on a medication that contributes to the problem. For example, beta-blockers are prescribed for high blood pressure, angina, after a heart attack, and for congestive heart failure - and are associated with weight gain.

Don't discontinue any medication without talking to your doctor to determine if you are on a drug that interferes with weight loss. If so, there may be another drug you can take, you may be able to go on a lower dose, or (sorry) you may just have to concentrate on exercising more and eating less!
Source: Dr. Nieca Goldberg's Guide to Women's Health

Pack a lunch to unpack the pounds

While it's not impossible to get a heart healthy meal in restaurants and fast food courts, the reality is a lot of restaurant food is high in carbohydrates, calories, unhealthy fats (polyunsaturated), and sodium - especially fast food. Studies have linked eating at restaurants at least twice a week to a higher body mass index and a greater risk of obesity.

The key with taking a packed lunch is being able to control ingredients and portion sizes. Choose high fat, moderate protein, low carb and include some and vegetables.

Age, gender, and genes.

Not only are these the three risk factors for heart disease that you can't change, they can also have an impact on your ability to lose weight.

The younger you are, the easier it is to lose body weight. As you get older it becomes more difficult because you have less muscle mass, reduced hormones, and you may be less active. A good reason to keep your weight in check all your adult life!

Men tend to lose weight faster than women because they have greater muscle mass than women and burn more calories as a result. Good news if you're a guy.

You inherited your body type and your metabolism from your parents. While some people can eat anything they want and never seem to gain weight, others swear all they have to do is look at food and they gain body weight. You can't change your genes - but you can eat well and exercise regularly to keep yourself trim.

Once you’ve lost weight, congratulations! Be sure to reward yourself - but not with food! The next challenge is to keep it off. You CAN do that by continuing the changes you've made in your lifestyle! That's smart heart living.

This is not a diet, it's a lifestyle! It's based on the way our ancestors ate and thrived. You'll be amazed at what you discover in this book. For many, it's life-changing!

Want to know more about what this whole "paleo thing" is all about? Not only will you find a wealth of knowledge about weight loss, you'll also learn about the intricate relationship between what you eat and your health. You'll also find a wonderful selection of delicious recipes.

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