First, I researched all I could find about why the body adds weight. I found that once your fully grown which could be 18 to 21 years of age, You shouldn’t be adding weight. Now those years can vary for some of us. For instance, I am the same size as I was at the age of 16. Actually, I weight a few pounds less today. That not unusual for senior to lose muscle mass. Actually everyone will dart to lose muscle mass after age 40.
Second, I realize some of my weight management is just dumb luck. I use to yo-yo around a lot. You should know the whole story because in my early 20′s I never really tried to maintain my weight or exercise, but in those days I worked blue-collar and worked very hard, physical labor. I drove a route truck for Cola-Cola for 5 years, unloading 100′s of case of coke everyday with no helper and working 60 hour weeks. After that, I worked as a laborer and later a labor foreman doing heavy construction. Highways, bridges, and underground tunnels. That job was very physical, both of those jobs burned thousands of calories a day and my body suffered. You can’t avoid injuries when you do hard physical labor. So when I was 32 I had a job ending injury that put me on crutches for almost two years. After that is when I started to have a weight problem.
This leads into my subject, why we gain weight. Before my injury, I had to eat a lot because I burned thousands of calories at work everyday, but after my injury, my physical activity was almost nothing. Back in the 70′s you could smoke in a hospital and I could smoke in my hospital bed and I was there for 5 weeks. After I left the hospital I decided to quit smoking which I did that same today, just threw out the pack and never looked back. I’ll never regret doing that, but in a 5 week period I stopped exercising and stopped smoking. Little did I know that this would be the end of my almost perfect body. Six foot tall, weighed 172 and all muscle.
The injures I had left me immobile. I could use my crutches to get around, but that does give you much exercise. I lied in traction for 4 weeks and then recouping for 1 more week, but that does really change your appetite. So now that I’m out of the hospital and back home, I’m back to eating all the calories I use to, but I’m not burning those calories. You do burn calories even if you do nothing, Your body will burn calories just to maintain your body and your body will need to burn more calories to maintain muscle, (one pound of muscle requires that you burn 6 calories a day). Fat only requires about 2 calories a day. That’s one reason the expert want you to lift weights and build muscle to lose weight. They claim that muscle will burn fat and the way to losing weight is to lose fat. It’s more important to lose fat then to lose weight. Of course by losing fat you will lose weight, but losing fat is a slow process. Ordinary diets will help you to lose weight, but it’s usually just temporary because most of what you lost was muscle and water, only about 25% fat. It’s true, with ordinary diets 75 percentage of your weight lose is muscle and water. That reduces the amount of calories your body burns during your everyday activities. I’ll explain, if the studies are correct and you lose 10 pounds on a diet and 6 pounds of that is muscle, then by losing that weight your body is burning 36 fewer calories a day, and that’s if you only lost 10 pounds.
So, the question is, “Why do we gain weight”?
There’s several reasons; the first obvious one is that your eating more. If all the other variables are the same, work habits, exercise, etc., the only one left is food so you must be eating more. It doesn’t have to be much. Let’s say you get coffee every morning going to work, and you have extra money now because your charge card is paid off, so now your going to treat yourself, celebrate, but instead of just doing the cake and coffee one time, now your making a habit of this. You say to yourself ” I know I should eat breakfast but I never have time so now I have the money I’m making time. ” There it is an extra 500 calories without changing any other habits. It goes straight to your waist line. There’s no nutrition in a piece of cake or a bagel.
Another reason for weight gain can be lack of sleep, extra stress (more than usual).
Certain medications can cause weight gain like antidepressants, anti-inflammatory steroids, drugs for heartburn,blood pressure and diabetes. If you think one or more of your meds are causing weight gain, see your doctor. He might be able to change your prescription.
The thyroid produces a hormone needed for good metabolism. If your thyroid isn’t producing enough of this hormone your metabolism will slow down and you burn less fat.
Aging also causes your metabolism to slow down, smoking and alcohol can cause metabolism to slow down.
Now some good news, water retention will cause weight gain but it’s only temporary.
Another reason and it will make sense if you think about; You will gain weight slowly every year just because you’re less active. In my case, I was very active before I reached the age of 30. After that I was only moderately active. Instead of the more active life in blue-collar work, I was in my own business in more of an executive position. I had the long hours but no real physical stress. I wasn’t exercising do to lack of time and my weight started to go up. Before I realized how bad I looked I weighed 220+ pounds.
I believe this happens to a lot of men more than women. Women’s weight problems are for different reasons. For men, jobs, extra responsibility at work and at home plus a lack of willingness causes that “middle age spread”. Men will get to the point were their “plate is full”. “I deal with enough and I don’t want to deal with any more. It’s late, I worked all day at the office and now all I want is a beer and the remote.” It’s like after a certain point they become brain-dead.
Most people in the workforce are stressed out having to produce the amount of work they’re expected to do. So in our personal lives we’re looking for convenience, a way to make our lives a little easier. Things like exercise are activities we tend to skip. So we eat out too much, exercise too little and as a result, we are an over-weight society.
Controlling my weight is more difficult then gaining weight. I had to lose that 50 pounds I gained over 5 or more years. Then I had to keep it off. I did lots of research on eating whole foods or now they say, “eating fresh”. I had to quit eating in restaurants for a few months. I had to stop eating prepared foods or any processed foods like processed cheese and lunch meat. Even frozen foods can contain additives. Read the labels. Oh, and the big one, I had to stop drinking alcohol for a few months. No wine with dinner, no beer after work, no cocktails, no alcohol of any kind. Why you might ask, alcohol will slow down your metabolism. You will burn fewer calories.
After I lost the weight, and I do admit it took several years because I yo-yo-ed up and down several times, I still eat fresh, only eat red meat on rare occasions, fish and poultry 3 or 4 times a week and totally meatless the other days. I only eat about 1800 calories a day. My snacks are nuts, seeds, greek yogurt and fruit. And yes, you will have to exercise more if you want to keep the weight off. Don’t get crazy with the exercise program. Just do as much as you need to. You have to burn more calories than you eat if your going to lose weight.
Today I’m about 60 pounds below those high’s of 220+ pounds and I feel like I’m back in my 20’s again.