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Get Up, Stand Up! (Put Down the Bagel)

Posted by bmagnus On December - 11 - 2009

As we sit at our desks this holiday season, perhaps glancing at goodies that some thoughtful co-worker has brought in, we know that come January many of us will find ourselves needing to lose a few pounds. Some of you may ask yourselves why you are gaining weight when you are eating the same stuff you did 20 years ago. And while it’s easy to blame a slowing metabolism, that isn’t really the problem at all.

“All I had for breakfast was a bagel! I thought whole grains were good for me!” Well, true enough. But your bagel — to say nothing of the schmear of butter or cream cheese on top — has more than doubled in size and calories. Moreover, your movie popcorn, slice of pizza, cheeseburger, fries, spaghetti with meatballs, and even that healthy-sounding chicken Caesar salad have all super-sized themselves over the last 20 years. Portion control across the board is out of control. Be honest with yourself; even when you cook at home, the box of pasta is labeled “8 servings,” but does it really go that far? That couldn’t have anything to with your pants feeling tight, could it?

As for the other reason you and many other people have trouble maintaining a healthy weight, MSNBC rightly points out that “you’re sitting on it.” We spend as much as 56 hours a week sitting on our butts, despite the fact that our bodies were designed to stand, walk, run, and in general move. This is having a negative impact not only on our quality of life, but in fact our lifespans. Not only does this level of “activity” use few calories, it has negative effects on cellular metabolism and increases the risk of disease. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic who study Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or NEAT for short, have already found that people of normal weight get up and move more than overweight people for an average additional burn of about 350 calories. A possible explanation for that one person in the office who seems like she can eat anything and never gain weight: is she also the person who is always walking around the office? Getting up and moving around not only burns calories, but does things that biochemically boost your metabolism too. In fact, Mayo researcher James Levine wrote a book about it (the paperback comes out just after Christmas, in time for New Years resolutions).

So if you are looking for “easy” ways to lose a couple pounds or enhance your current diet, control portion sizes and get out of the chair.

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