Be fit be fertile

By:  Dr. Umesh N Jindal On:  July 6, 2016 8:55 AM

The obesity epidemic is the curse of the modern life style. Lack of physical activity, increasing use of processed food and mounting stress levels have led to a significant number of young adults entering the reproductive years with varying degrees of obesity. Adverse effects of obesity on the menstrual and reproductive functions have been well documented. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder in which menses are irregular, there is lack of ovulation (egg maturation) and other hormonal disturbances; it is one the most common causes of female infertility. 80-90% of women suffering from this syndrome are overweight or obese. Losing even of 10% of excess weight can put the hormonal balance in order and give a chance for natural conception. In addition to PCOS, obesity also leads to adverse pregnancy outcomes like abortions, fetal growth restriction, and high blood pressure. It also has an impact on the long term health of the baby.

Here are few tips to reduce weight. These tips give you a long term weight management programme which you can carry out yourself. Have you been trying to lose weight? Whenever I ask this question to any overweight person the answer is ‘Yes but it does not happen’. When I ask, ‘Why it does not happen?’ there is no definite answer. Only some excuses come. Let me take these common myths and excuses one by one.

I don’t eat much: Most of the overweight people would say this and are convinced that there is some underlying disease such as thyroid disorder or some medicine intake (even iron tablets) which are responsible. To some extent genetic inheritance and body metabolism are responsible for excessive weight gain. However, God has given us one body and unfortunately we can’t change it whether we like it or not. There is practically no disease or medicine which increases weight. Even if there are some they cause only a marginal increase and again the methods to reduce weight remain same.

I avoid Fatty food: When asked most people would say, ‘I put oil in cooking instead of ghee. I avoid rice. I take juices.’ The fact is almost every food we eat contributes some calories. We have to reduce the total calories and also the type of food from which we get calories. All types of fats provide a calorific value of 9 kcal, which is much more than proteins or even carbohydrates. So avoiding fats is most important. Some items which we do not consider fatty and are quite commonly consumed are chips, bhujia, biscuits, mathi, namkeen, samosa, tikki, etc. Sweets of all types have very high amount of concentrated calories. Juices and cold drinks also have very concentrated calories and must be avoided. Alcohol and meat are other two very important contributing culprits.

I have a very busy work schedule, therefore can’t control my diet and also can’t do any exercise? Exactly the opposite reason is given by some homemakers of two to four persons household with not enough work. Both situations are just the same. A very busy executive, computer engineer, salesperson, teacher, doctor and especially young students, social workers, everybody, gets so much tangled in the web of work that care of one’s own self is ignored. There is such a rat race to achieve targets, goals, marks that there is no time to take care of the body. With this type of lifestyle usually there is excess consumption of junk food and no physical exercise.

I have lots of tensions: Anxiety and depression do increase weight in many people. Some persons tend to eat more and reduce their physical activity and gain weight during a rough period. One can only say that there is nobody who does not have problems. All problems are as big as we perceive them to be. Do not increase the problems of the world by adding on your own!

So what is the solution?

    • Motivation: Consider your body as a friend, neither master nor slave. Do not pamper it, do not listen to its unreasonable demands and try to work it hard.
    • Confidence: Weight can be reduced. There is no reason why it should not happen. It only needs sustained effort and perseverance.
    • Sustained effort: Weight gain occurs over a time and it will be lost over a time. Half Kg. per week or 2-3 Kg. per month is a good rate of loss. But this rate usually means a sustained effort for 5–6 months for most moderately obese people.
    • Find your bottleneck in diet: Excess tea, excess juices, excess snacks, excess social events, free food etc. and cut on that.
    • Reduce total calorie intake: To reduce weight a cut in diet to nearly half of current diet is required to make any significant effect.
    • Small frequent meals: Do not skip meals and especially not the breakfast. Divide total food intake into 3 – 4 small meals.
    • Water: Take lot of water, 20 – 30 glasses of water per day.
    • Green salad: Take a lot of green salad such as cucumber, carrots, radishes, cabbage etc. You have to eat in platefuls and not small pieces to do that. Usual response, ‘Yuk! Salad is not tasty!’
    • Forget about taste: You can either have tasty food or health. Find out your weaknesses and cut those. Most often these calorie rich items are eaten in excess. Develop a taste for healthy low calorie food.
    • Exercise: You must be surprised that I have kept exercise at the last. I am myself a diehard gym goer. Exercise is a very important component for fitness and activity. But for exercise to be able to reduce weight it has be moderately intense. It has to be sustained i.e. at least 5 days a week. The increase in hunger due to exercise has to be controlled. No amount of exercise can reduce weight without appropriate diet control. Rather weight will increase further due to increased appetite and increase in muscle mass. In weight loss, 80% of the role is that of diet and 20% of exercise.
    • Calculate: Calculate your calorie intake. Know the calorific value of common foods. A rough idea is as follows:

Any fried item (Sweet or Salty): Multiply weight of item by 6 – 7 calories e.g. Samosa 100 – 150 grams x 6 – 7 calories = 600 – 1000 calories which is even higher than one complete meal.
Normal cooked item: Multiply the weight of item by 3-4 calorie e.g. one roti, 30 gram x 4 = 120 gram.
Common Cold drinks: 50 – 200 cal/100 ml.

    • Calorie requirement: Calculate your calorie requirements also. You require roughly 1 cal/min for your basic requirements. Add 1 cal/min for normal activity time such as household activity and 3 -5 cal/min for very active exercise such as running or gym. To lose 1 kg/week weight you need to have a daily deficit of 500 calories or more.

Finally a word about machines and weight loss medicines. Obesity is a life style disease. It is not a short term problem. A quick fix will not help. Only a change in lifestyle, regular habit of exercise and a permanent modification in diet can keep you fit. To conclude, I would say that there is no reason big enough to spoil your health; there is nobody who can’t reduce weight if they try hard. God has given us this beautiful and precious body and also a duty to maintain this.