Weight, Health, and Your Career

Weight, Health, and Your Career

Understanding the relationship of weight, health, and career success is important to your career.  There are many articles on the subject. This article from Forbes on weight-based discrimination is a good one.  “Is Your Weight Affecting Your Career?”

Weight is image related and it is performance related.  I once had a fitness trainer say to me, “If you want to know the importance of food to how you feel, try not eating.”

You’re Not Alone.

If you have weight issues, you are not alone.  For Americans, obesity is an epidemic.

Early on, my weight issues were self-esteem issues.  I have had to wrestle with weight issues since I was old enough to become aware that I had them.  My first recollection of having a weight problem came when I was in the third grade.  I was in a local pool and one of the kids in the pool said, “You have gotten really fat.”

My first attempt at trying to lose weight came when I was in the fourth grade.  I managed to skip eating breakfast despite my mother having prepared breakfast for me.  During the day, I felt faint, and I ended up in the nurse’s office.

My activity as a kid helped me with my weight.  I played in multiple sports and worked at part-time jobs where I was on my feet.  I was careful to get what my dad called table muscles.  He said, “You get table muscles when you push yourself away from the table.”

Diet Books

Over time, I read more about weight loss.  I tried different ways of eating that other people found successful.  I read diet books and tried different diets.  Some of these diet programs focus on eliminating reducing or eliminating either fat or carbohydrates as food choices.  Other diets focused on the proper balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.  I read books that emphasized eating different foods at different times of the day.  I read other books that recommended not mixing food groups and eating them at the same time.

During my lifetime of fighting my weight issues, I have found that I have a lot of company.  Age and inactivity have played a role for my generation.  However, the weight issues I had as a kid have become more common among kids in America.  Fat people were unusual when I was growing up.  Now nearly everyone has gotten fatter.

Diet books have been far more successful financially than they have been in making America healthy.  

Metabolic Syndrome

There are many aspects to weight and health.  Here are some sobering thoughts on weight from The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the United States Government:

Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.

The term “metabolic” refers to the biochemical processes involved in the body’s normal functioning. Risk factors are traits, conditions, or habits that increase your chance of developing a disease.

In this article, “heart disease” refers to coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD is a condition in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary (heart) arteries.

Plaque hardens and narrows the arteries, reducing blood flow to your heart muscle. This can lead to chest pain, a heart attack, heart damage, or even death.

A Guide to Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome: Origins and Treatment by George Bray is a comprehensive book on the subject metabolic syndrome.

Challenges of Weight Control

For me, there have always been three issues.

  • Quantity: I find that some foods I eat make me hungrier.  I see other people have a serving of spaghetti for dinner and not have another bite for the rest of the evening.  When I eat a serving of spaghetti, I find that I am ready for another serving in less than an hour.  I am not a nutritionist, but I believe that some people release insulin more easily than others do.  The insulin imbalance lowers our blood sugar.  The lower blood sugar makes us hungry.  For people with big insulin pumps (not very scientific term), starchy foods become a turbo booster for insulin.
  • Strict diets are hard to live on for the long term.  There are a wide variety of support groups for people trying to stay with an eating a specific eating plan.  I remember Weight Watchers® meetings in a conference room where I worked.  I have friends who have attended Overeaters Anonymous® meetings.  Jenny Craig® offers support for its members.  There are support groups online.  One of the more popular Subreddits is “everything about keto.”
  • Rigorous exercise programs are easier to abandon that to maintain.  I knew a man who ran ten miles a day for years.  It was amazing to me that he could keep up this regimen.  He was 6’3″ and just a large guy.  For some people, this type of regimen is highly rewarding.  However, based on articles I have read and on my doctor’s advice, I have concluded that there are questionable benefits and even risks for people who get more than five hours of cardiovascular exercise a week.  To me, it was a kind of exercise bulimia.  This man would overeat and then run sixty or more miles a week to purge the calories that he consumed.

Individualize Your Efforts

Some people have specific allergies.  People with Celiac disease experience health issues when they eat grains that contain gluten.  People who avoid these grains say they have more energy.  Other people have specific immediate adverse response to peanuts or shellfish.  I can’t eat crab meat.  The last time I ate crab meat I got a rash on my face and my mouth and throat begin to itch.  Just being too close to crab gives me a rash on my face.  Strangely, I can eat shrimp.

Different doctors say different things.  The diet plan that the United States Government’s Dietary Guidelines emphasizes a diet that is high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, or lower in fats.  The USDA Food Pyramid still recommends that a healthy diet as one in which a people get the largest percent of their calories from carbohydrates.  The Food Pyramid follows the conventional wisdom that eating fat contributes to higher caloric consumption and, in turn, to diseases related to obesity.

However, the University of California Davis Health System has a plan of high fat low carbohydrate eating to achieve the same results.

My Personal Plan

I am continually learning and struggling.  My wife cooks for our family.  For her to plan her menus around my latest efforts to lose weight is unnecessary and unfair to her.  I have tried so many diet plans that she would have had to make continual adjustments for whatever diet I was using.

What I have found is that can eat within the healthy meal plans that my wife has developed and adjust the portion sizes that work for my own ideas of what is healthy for me.  For example, spaghetti is a being food for me.  When my wife cooks spaghetti, I find that having an extra meatball and extra cheese reduces the binge eating that spaghetti stimulates in me.

Spaghetti is not my only binge food.  When I eat mostly carbohydrates, I eat far more food.  Keto and paleo (“protein”) diets are effective.  They are also strict and a challenge to maintain in some conditions, especially for people on a budget and living with other people.  However, realizing the benefits of protein diets work helps me select foods, as we said down in Texas, “That will stick to my ribs.”

On the point of food selection, I can use common sense about eating.  I can still hear my parents telling me, “You can have something sweet after you eat your dinner.”  I have learned that I will less likely crave dessert when I eat dinner first.

Sign Me Up

Joining sports teams helps me.  Playing softball and soccer are both sports that I have played and coached.  Health clubs work great for me when I know people at the club and feel like I am part of a group.

I have an exercise bike in my home.  The bike eliminates any excuse from exercising.  Also, I have a neighborhood where I enjoy taking walks.

I have a health club membership.  Resistance training is good for maintaining strength and toning muscles.

Self-acceptance is important as well.  Few people see themselves the way the world sees them.  Anorexia is a disease that kills people though their inability to have a healthy perspective on their weight and self-image.

I wish you good luck with your Weight, Health, and Career.  If you have something that is working for you, be sure to pass it along when someone is asking for help.  There is wisdom in the adage, “You can’t keep it unless you give it away.”  I suppose that I am in some ways selfishly trying to stay healthy by passing along my experience with my own health.

Image: Jay Wren Images