PUBLISHED: 4:43 PM on Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Do as I say, not as I do
I think the Nintendo Wii is the greatest thing since Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream. Well, at least I did until I stepped on my new Wii Fit Balance Board and heard "ooh." I watched the screen as my Mii gained girth around the middle and transformed into a teletubby, then dropped my jaw when the little measuring devise showed that I was OBESE.

Really? Well yes, I did know that I fit into that category, but there isn't anything quite like a visual to drive the point home. And in my case, I needed multiple visuals.

I guess the vacation photo of my backside last October wasn't convincing enough. When I looked at the photo and said, "I'm fat, when did that happen?" a co-worker said sympathetically, "Well you know cameras add ten pounds." I replied that I was sure that my camera was broken because there was an extra 50 pounds in that picture that I just didn't remember gaining.

While looking for ideas about what to write this week, a friend made this suggestion: "How about dieting or weight loss: specifically, some tips to stick with a certain diet or workout routine."

There is no need to preach to the choir here - for those of you who are in or near the same situation I am, we know how and why we got where we are. I quit making excuses a while ago. The thought of me writing an article advising others on the topic was laughable. All I could think of was "do as I say and not as I do." After all, I am sitting here eating Laffy Taffy and drinking a Diet Coke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. In 2007, Alaska's obesity rate was reported as 27.5%.

For adults, overweight and obesity ranges are determined by using weight and height to calculate a number called the "body mass index" (BMI). BMI is used because for most people it correlates with their amount of body fat.

An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. (So, I let the cat out of the bag: My BMI is currently over 30. Eek!)

If you are in the "healthy BMI" range, good for you. Stay there.

There are a number of health risks that those of us who are overweight or obese face, but we can reduce our risk fairly easily by doing just a few things.

The recommended amount of physical activity for adults is 30 minutes most days. Walking is a great way to be active. I have a couple of dogs I will loan out if you need companionship (or protection) - I can't walk them enough.

The great thing about adding physical activity is that it can be split into several short periods, such as 10 minutes three times a day.

Of course, it is important to consult with your health care provider before starting a vigorous exercise program if you have ever had heart trouble or high blood pressure or suffer from chest pains, dizziness or fainting, arthritis, or if you are over age 40 (men) or 50 (women).

The area that I really struggle with is eating the right kinds of food and balancing that with physical activity. It is so easy to grab something quick and scarf it down.

Taking time to enjoy your food and making better choices, along with adding physical activity, can really make a difference.

I don't have space here to get into all the issues of childhood obesity. As adults we are the examples for our young people. It is hard to tell them what to do when we aren't following our own advice.

So while I may currently be saying "do as I say and not as I do," hopefully soon I'll be setting a good example for others.

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn't just about a "diet" or "program." It is part of an ongoing lifestyle that you can adopt now and stay with for years to come. A healthy weight contributes to good health now and as you age.

I hope that you will join me in making better choices. This may not be the time for you, but remember that you are not alone. When you decide to make changes, there are a lot of resources out there to help you. All you have to do is find what works for you and stick with it.

Overweight and obese individuals are at increased risk for many diseases and health conditions, including the following:

• Hypertension (high blood pressure)

• Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)

• Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)

• Type 2 diabetes

• Coronary heart disease

• Stroke

• Gallbladder disease

• Sleep apnea and respiratory problems

• Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)

Resources to get you started:

• Centers for Disease Control:

• Partnership for Healthy Weight Management:

• American Dietetic Association: