Khin Maung Myint
There is no one who do not want to live a long and healthy life. However, do they lead a healthy way of life? I doubt it. There may be some who really maintain a healthy way of life, but most are either ignorant or knowingly neglecting their health. Health conscious persons will watch what they eat and what they do, never over-indulging in anything that is detrimental to the health. Some people are leading unhealthy lives by eating, drinking and over-indulgence. They are headed for their early graves.
Today, obese people are common sights. Especially among the middle aged females. If you observe them closely, you’ll find that they have no control of themselves in their eating habits. Most fat people are ignorant as to which foods would put on weight. I had known some obese persons who had no concern for their health. When they had to choose between health and food, they would definitely choose food.
There may be many reasons for being obese. Some are obese because of their inherited genes or the metabolic malfunctions. However, most are caused by eating disorders or disregards for the amount of calories they consume and lack of physical activities.
The Monsoons have started to recede. The rains are getting sparse, providing fine weathers for morning walks and exercises. More and more people are out on the roads today, for morning workouts. The Kandawgyi and its environs have attracted more and more people. The place is crowded with throngs of people and cars every morning, since the early hours. If you see that scenario, the first thought that would come to your mind is, our people are becoming more health conscious. However, if you are more observant and more rational in your outlook, you will notice that most of them are not.
I will give an example to prove my statement. Some of my acquaintances went to the Kandawgyi almost every morning, driving there. I walked to that place from my home. The total distance I covered was about two miles and it took about an hour, during which I did some stretching exercises. As for my acquaintances, when they arrived at the Kandawgyi, after parking their cars, they went to their respective rendezvous to do some light aerobic exercise for a few minutes. The highlight of their daily rituals are the feasts that followed. There would be some sort of breakfast almost everyday. There are donors almost everyday from among their crowd. It may be somebody’s birthday or anniversary or may be even somone’s child passing an exam, that called for an occasion to treat the members. They are not just light snacks but heavy ones There are many groups like them inside the Kandawgyi. It has become a fashion.
I wondered whether these people are really interested to workout or just go there to enjoy themselves. It is the individual’s right and I have no intention to critize. However, I would like to point out that if you are really health conscious, you should first know what is good and what is bad for your health. One person said he had been going to the Kandawgyi almost everyday to exercise, but was unable to get his weight down or get rid of his paunch or, rather, the beer gut. I told him how could he do it, if the amount of calories he consumed daily was much more than what he was burning. The excess calories would turn into body fats that made a person fat.
Accumulation of the body fats is the root cause of weight gain and increase in the girth at the waistline. Most people wrongly think that just doing exercises are enough to rid off the weight and do not take into considerations the importance of the calories in the food they consume. I had noticed that many people are ignorant about calories. They are not aware that these calories would send them to their early graves. My concept about leading a long and healthy life is to watch your weight and maintain it at the ideal level. Obesity poses health risks. The most common health problems caused by obesity are diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular problems and difficulty of movements. There may be more, but for the purpose of my article these would suffice.
To maintain your ideal weight, the best method is to combine exercise with strict calorie intake. This is what every health and fitness advisors would tell you. As for me, I had learned that is true, through my own experience.
While in my thirties I weighed nearly one hundred and eighty pounds, way above my ideal weight. For my height and age, I should weigh only one forty. At that time my immediate boss too was over weight. (Today it is very easy to determine whether you are over weight or obese. Just download a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator.) We decided to lose weight and made a bet as to who could bring down the weight to the ideal level in the shortest time. He lent me a book on dieting. The title of the book was “Crash Dieting”.
We started dieting and exercising. According to the book I had to determine how much calories I need daily. I found that depending on the nature of my work, I needed 2300 calories per day. To reduce my weight I must either reduce my daily calorie intake significantly by dieting or do more exercise to burn away more calories. I did as the book recommended — I combined exercise with dieting.
Here, I should explain briefly what calories are. In plain language, the calories are energy required by the body to function efficiently. The more energy needed to perform a work, the more the calories are required. For instance a farmer or a labourer requires far more calories than an office worker. The more a person is active, the more calories he would need. Males need more calories than the females.
So, where can these calories be found? They are present in all the foods we eat. Among them the carbohydrates, cooking oils, milk and milk products are the richest in calories. Lean meats and marine animals are a bit lower in calories, while most vegetables contain the least amounts. Each type of food has its own value in calories per unit weight. Thus it is quite easy to count the calories consumed, by referring to a calorie value table.
To reduce weight by dieting, that is by reducing calorie intake, you must determine at what rate you want to do it. If you want to lose weight drastically, you must follow the crash diet regimen. That is to reduce your daily calorie intake drastically. In my case, I chose the crash dieting method. I determined my normal calorie intake at that time should be 2300 calories daily. I limited my daily intake to 1500 calories, thus saving 800 calories a day. When the calorie intake is less than the required amount, the body fats have to be burned for energy. As about 3500 calories is equal to ane pound of body fat, theoretically I should lose one pound in about five days. While reducing weight, more water should be consumed to cleanse the body of the ashes or residues left by burning the body fats.
In the beginning, the weight decrease was not very noticeable for a few days. I was disappointed, but I continued as I had a bet to fulfil. After about a fortnight, my weight started to fall significantly. I assume that, in the beginning my calorie counting method must be incorrect. Just over six months, my weight was down to 136 pounds, I had shed 44 pounds. So, I stopped dieting and started to consume the normal requirement, which was 2300 calories. I noticed my weight stopped reducing and remained steady around 135, where I maintained it. During dieting, I took the necessary vitamin supplements to shore up my energy, as recommended by the book. I would like to emphasize that in dieting, you need determination and strong will power to achieve your goal.
During the dieting, I regularly walked three miles in the mornings. Any activity could burn the calories, though in varying amounts, depending on the intensity of the activity. There are also tables that show which exercise or activity burn how much calories per hour. For instance swimming, cycling and running burns more calories than walking, while brisk walking burns more than strolling. Even sitting or lying down, burns calories to a certain amount. To assist in weight control it would be necessary to know what sort of exercise burns how much calories and determine the type of exercise that suits you. The calories burned by the exercises must be taken into account in calculating how much calories you can intake to maintain your weight at the required level. The easiest and at the same time, the most effective way to a healthy life is walking. So let us walk away from our early graves.