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Sara Jefferson

English 1201

Professor Hellners

December 3, 2020

Obesity in America and ways to a healthy heart and healthy mind.

Insecure, unattractive, sad and frustrated are just a few of the physical and mental

emotions I have felt for some time now. I have never wanted to be skinny or have the perfect

body, I only wanted to be confident and comfortable in my own skin. I wanted to feel beautiful

and feel loved. In high school, I was somewhat athletic as I cheered for the basketball team for

several years. My senior year I ended up pregnant and my body has never been the same. I know

that I have control over my weight. I don’t have any health issues that refrain me from getting

into shape however, I never had enough motivation or support to do so. I would find reasons or

make excuses to be the size I was. I was mentally and physically abused by my sons’ father

which was often about my weight. He called me names and made me feel like nothing, even

being the mother of his child. When I did attempt to go to the gym or take a walk at the park with

my girlfriends, I wasn’t allowed as he controlled every aspect of my life. Fast forward 12 years. I

did it! I finally took back what is rightly mine, my body. I have recently decided to create a

weight loss program for myself to lose the excess weight and maintain a healthy diet. Obesity

can not only affect your physical appearance; it can affect your heart and your mind.
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As many of you may know, obesity has a been an ongoing issue in America for many,

many years. Approximately, 42 percent of Americans, are considered to be overweight or even

obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How does one truly know if

they are overweight, other than stepping on a scale or judging by their pant size?

There is a scientific method of measuring your body mass index (BMI) which is a measure of

body fat based on your weight and height. This particular method applies to adult men and

women. You can visit https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm to

calculate your BMI. When you think of the word obese, what comes to mind? My initial thought

is someone who is extremely overweight however, that is not necessarily true. Obesity means

that a person’s weight is 20% more than what it should be. I am 5’2” and currently weigh 154

pounds which, is considered overweight. Although, I am not a large person, my fat outweighs
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my muscle. This is something that I have tried to get under control for years and have failed

many times. I have tried multiple diets, diet pills and exercise however, I have never stayed

committed or followed through with any programs. According to Cleveland Clinic, 84 percent of

Americans have tried some sort of weight loss method however, one-third of those Americans

only stick with it for one week to a month. Being obese can cause many health risks and have a

negative impact on your life expectancy. There are plenty of resources available today to assist,

guide, influence and self-teach any individual interested in jumping on the weight loss journey.

In this research paper, I will talk about the health risks, how and why some people struggle with

weight loss. There have also been studies that show that there is a positive association between

obesity and various mental illnesses, which I will also elaborate on (David Sarwer and Heather

Polonsky).

“We’re finding that people’s weight from age 25 onwards is linked to the risk of more or

less heart damage, as measured by levels of the protein troponin, later in life, which underscores

the likely importance of long-term weight control for reducing heart disease risk,” says Chiadi

Ndumele, M.D., M.H.S. Being overweight or obese does put you at risk for health issues. Often

times, these health issues can be resolved with weight loss and maintaining a healthy diet. Some

of the physical health risks that may appear are high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes,

heart disease or strokes. Also, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and

Kidney Diseases, if you are pregnant, excess weight may lead to short- and long-term health

issues for you and the baby. There are also known mental illnesses that can be related to obesity

such as depression, eating disorders, anxiety and substance abuse. Depression is a mood disorder

that affected me the most. I was sad and couldn’t find the strength or want to have anything to do

with the people who loved me. All I wanted to do was eat and sleep as that is what made be feel
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better at that time. While I was in the depression state, I packed on even more weight which is

the exact opposite of what I wanted to do. I also experienced anxiety where I was constantly

worried or simply felt uneasy. This is something I am still struggling with, but it has gotten better

over the years. I can say that I have never resorted to substance abuse to cope. I have seen a

doctor in the past related to the depression and anxiety however, I have never used any drugs to

cover my symptoms. I would try and adjust my focus on my child which really helped me push

through those rough times. Eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are

serious illnesses that can be fatal. Anorexia is where an individual sees themselves as overweight

however, are extremely underweight. They also weight themselves frequently and restrict their

food intake and sometimes work out excessively, Anorexia is considered a mental disorder and

holds the highest mortality rate according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Bulimia

Nervosa is typically when someone binge eats and forces themselves to vomit or uses laxatives

or diuretics excessively to rid the food they ate. Both of these mental illnesses come with side

effects that are very harmful to the body.

There are a variety of ways to lose weight including diets, supplements, healthy foods

and exercise. “Weight loss can be achieved through a variety of modalities, but long-term

maintenance of lost weight is much more challenging.” (Kevin D. Hall). But why is it more

challenging for some? One thing to be considered is your biological genes. Genes may be a

contributing factor to your weight if you have been overweight most of your life and this also

may be true if you have immediate family that is overweight. Something else to note is that if

you increase physical activity and reduce your calorie intake but, are still not seeing the results

this could be hereditary and mostly likely more challenging. If we look at the other end of the

attribute, genes may not be a factor if you are overweight however, can lose weight with diet and
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exercise. I found that as I get older its even more difficult to lose weight. Why is this? Is it true

that your metabolism slows down? Yes, it is in most cases. There are certain factors that that

play a role in the speed of your metabolism. One thing to consider is that men typically have

more muscle mass and larger bonces than women, which keep their metabolism at a higher

spend. As we get older, we gain fat and lose muscle causing the slow down and in turn makes it

more of a challenge.

What are some important items to know and or consider before starting your weight loss

journey? Once you have a good idea of how much weight you need to lose, you should first set a

realistic and reasonable goal. Setting smaller or intermediate goals may be a better approach for

someone needed to lose more weight. This part of your weight loss journey may need to be

altered to fit your specific needs and may possibly need to be approved by your doctor (Samuel

Klein). Perhaps you have attempted to diet or lose weight previously and were unsuccessful.

This is important because you want to be able to become stronger and more confident each time

you hit a milestone. For me, I have set a weight loss goal of 25 pounds. I have then broken that

goal down into smaller goals of five pounds each. Once I reach one goal, I feel excited and

accomplished which keeps me more motivated for the finish line. Then create a reduced calorie,

nutritionally balanced food plan and determine your physical activity. Finally, create a behavior

change plan, to assist with staying on track with your goals. Now, to give you some insight on

what works best for me. Meal prepping is a wonderful! On Sunday, I create a list of my meal

plan and the ingredients needed. I then go to the grocery. Once I have everything I need, I prep

the meals and package them accordingly. I only prep for lunch and dinner and make sure I have

healthy snacks available in case I get hungry. Everything I prep is something I can have on the

Keto diet, which I will explain later. Through research and trial, you may need to find a diet that
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is easier for your lifestyle or more suited for your body type. There are a variety of diets

available that I will elaborate on when conducting my research including the Ketogenic diet and

Paleo diets which seem to be a fad currently. Knowing and understanding each option may play

a role in which method works best for you.

Now that I have shared some statistical data, let’s discuss the types of diets, or what I like

to call “lifestyle changes” that may or may not work for you. There is obviously some very

scientific evidence that are included in these diets however, I will share their brief overviews. I

will start with the diet I am currently on, the Ketogenic Diet also known as Keto. This seems to

be a popular choice right now among Americans trying to lose weight. The Keto diet is where

you consume very little carbohydrates, however, increase your fat and protein intake. This diet

can be challenging in that. carbohydrates normally account for at least 50% of the typical

American diet (Marcelo Campos). Carbohydrates are one of the main sources of your body’s

energy. With the reduction of carb intake your body starts to breakdown fat into to molecules

which are called ketone bodies. When this happens, it causes your body to go into “ketosis.”

Ketosis is the state where your body uses useful fat as energy. In addition to the low carb intake,

moderate protein and high fat, you can include what’s call intermittent fasting into the diet. I

personally fast multiple times a week for at least 15 hours. Some say you can get the best results

by completing a 48 hour fast. Either way, fasting can assist with getting your body into ketosis.

Does the Ketogenic Diet really work? According to the Harvard School of Public Health, there is

research to show that there are beneficial metabolic changes however, it is only proven for the

short-term. These benefits include a reduction in food cravings, a decrease in appetite and a

promotion od fat loss. I have been following this diet for about four weeks down and have lost a

total of eleven pounds. This is not where I had hoped to be four weeks in however, I am seeing
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progress. When I first started the Keto diet, I was considered obese weighing 165 according to

the BMI index. Another popular diet is the Paleo Diet. On this diet, you also consume lower in

sugar however, the sugar you can eat will come from fruit. You must eliminate processed foods,

dairy products and grains on this diet as well. This is somewhat similar to the Keto diet in that

the reduced intake of sugar causes the body to use your fat as fuel. You can eat fish, eggs,

vegetables, fruits nuts eggs and meat as ling is the meat is grass fed as opposed to grain fed. I

think this diet is a little more challenging because of the restrictions on meat. There are a variety

of foods that are beneficial to your health and weight. The obvious ones are fruits and vegetables.

These can be fresh, canned or frozen and they all hold important nutrients. Other items to

consider are lean meats such as poultry, fish and eggs. Those items are higher in protein and

have less fat. I have myself ready the nutrition labels when I go to the grocery. I look for things

that are low in saturated fats, low in cholesterol and low in sugar or carbohydrates. I don’t know

about you but I love comfort food which usually means lots of starch and carbs. As I prepared

myself for the diet, I slowly decrease these types of meals.

I found that reading other people’s stories and seeing their success has made be realize

that there are so many others that have similar stories to mine. Compiling the research in this

paper made me that much more knowledgeable on the weight loss topic and if I can positively

impact even one person’s life with the information I shared, I would be extremely happy. We all

have faced challenges at some point in our lives. This is what makes us stronger. My biggest

challenge was coming out of a domestic violence relationship in order to rebuild and love myself

again. I am on my way to a happier and healthier me and I could not be prouder. Being

overweight has made me realize what’s important and that is me and my family. I can only hope
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that anyone needing support or motivation to a healthy heart and mind has enjoyed reading my

essay.

Works Cited

“Calculate Your BMI - Standard BMI Calculator.” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute,
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm.

Hall, Kevin D, and Scott Kahan. “Maintenance of Lost Weight and Long-Term Management of
Obesity.” The Medical Clinics of North America, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan.
2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5764193/.

“Health Risks of Being Overweight.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 Feb. 2015,
www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/health-risks-overweight.

Klein, Samuel, et al. “Waist Circumference and Cardiometabolic Risk: a Consensus Statement
from Shaping America's Health: Association for Weight Management and Obesity
Prevention; NAASO, The Obesity Society; the American Society for Nutrition; and the
American Diabetes Association.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 May 2007,
academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/85/5/1197/4633199.

Marcelo Campos, MD. “Ketogenic Diet: Is the Ultimate Low-Carb Diet Good for You?”
Harvard Health Blog, 27 Apr. 2020, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/ketogenic-diet-is-the-
ultimate-low-carb-diet-good-for-you-2017072712089.

“Number of Obese Years - Not Just Obesity - a Distinct Risk Factor for Heart Damage.” Johns
Hopkins Medicine Newsroom, 20 Feb. 2018,
www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/number-of-obese-years--not-
just-obesity--a-distinct-risk-factor-for-heart-damage.

Sarwer, David B, and Heather M Polonsky. “The Psychosocial Burden of Obesity.”


Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America, U.S. National Library of
Medicine, Sept. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6052856/.

Types of Diets, www.nutritioned.org/types-of-diets.html.

Wheeler, Tracy. “Americans Concerned About Their Weight, but Don't Understand Link to
Heart Conditions and Overall Health.” Cleveland Clinic Newsroom, Cleveland Clinic
Newsroom, 4 Feb. 2019, newsroom.clevelandclinic.org/2019/01/31/americans-
concerned-about-their-weight-but-dont-understand-link-to-heart-conditions-and-overall-
health/.
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