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Ship-Shape Boaters

September 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Today’s Approaches to Weight Loss 

scale

Something that unites millions of Americans is the struggle against obesity. The American Heart Association reports that over 154 million Americans ages 20 and over are considered overweight or obese. In addition, almost 24 million children ages two to 19 are categorized as overweight or obese.

With these staggering numbers, and report after report citing the health risks associated with being overweight, many Americans are seeking both surgical and non-surgical methods to lose weight and regain health. Staying healthy and in shape is recommended for everyone, including boaters looking to improve their well-being and increase their stamina in order to enjoy their cherished pastime.Steve Osani, courtesy Marlis Brown

Though boating may be thought of as a rather sedentary form of recreation, in which the wind, the waves, the sails, or the engines do most of the work, that is actually far from the case. Marlisa Brown is a Registered Dietician, Certified Diabetes Educator, chef author and international speaker who knows that boating is physically demanding. Besides walking up and down the docks and climbing in and out of boats, Brown says that, “fixing the boat, tying it up, pushing it out, and rowing are better when you are fit.” Boaters will cope better with whatever physical challenges arise when they “are leaner and better able to move around.”

Though the boating season is a short one, setting a realistic weight-loss target is essential. Brown considers a maximum weight loss of one to three pounds per week to be a very realistic goal (and a great success if achieved), warning, “Anything more than that may not be healthful.” She elaborates that, “when you lose weight quickly, you also lose a percentage of your muscle mass, thereby slowing your metabolism.  Plus, you can lose weight in some very important muscles, such as your heart.”

Marlisa BrownBrown confirms what most dieters have learned the hard way —  there is no one specific food that can help you lose weight. However, she notes that “if you watch your portion sizes, keep well hydrated, get more exercise, eat more fruits and veggies, and split your meals up equally throughout the day, you are more likely to keep fit.” She recommends that boaters bring along lots of fluids (especially water), and pack snacks that travel well and don’t melt, such as energy and nut bars, fresh fruit, and low-fat cheese sticks (kept in a cooler, along with portion-controlled sandwiches).

Sometimes, exercise and diet are not enough to lose weight; surgery is an option open to many who have not achieved their desired results. This is not a step to be taken lightly, says Dr. Arif Ahmad MD, FRCS, FACS; the surgery must be deemed “medically necessary.” Dr. Ahmad, who specializes in minimally invasive bariatric and metabolic surgery such as laparoscopic gastric bypass, lap band, and sleeve gastrectomy, explains that “surgery is considered medically necessary if the patients are 100 pounds above their ideal body weight or if they are 80 pounds above their ideal body weight and also have sleep apnea or diabetes or high blood pressure.”

Dr. Ahmad considers the surgical procedures available today as tools that allow the surgeon and patient to “reverse and correct a lot of problems associated with being overweight.” The choice of the type of procedure is a joint decision that depends on the patient’s physical health and psychological condition, as well as his or her expectations.  Dr. Ahmad calls this process a “gray area” because there is no clear-cut, universal answer. Those considering surgery are asked to attend a seminar at which all types of surgery are discussed in detail.

                                     Rich before, courtesy Dr. AhmadRichard after

The time spent in surgery varies with the procedure selected, as does the hospital stay. Though each individual is different, the band surgery takes around 35 minutes, the sleeve takes 45 minutes to one hour, and a gastric bypass procedure lasts between 90 minutes and two hours. Recovery time differs from patient to patient; most patients can return to a sedentary job within a week to 10 days, with a restriction against lifting anything over 15 pounds for the next four to six weeks.

Steve Orsani, courtesy Marlis Brown (for web +)

Surgery is not a magic wand, nor is it a singular cure. The causes of obesity are a complicated combination of genetic, psychological, and metabolic factors, so those undergoing bariatric and metabolic surgery also pay periodic pre- and post-operation visits to both a nutritionist and a psychiatrist. For best results, Dr. Ahmad recommends a focus on exercise and proper diet as well,as part of a total, life-long change in a patient’s approach to health and weight.  He says the odds of success greatly improve that way. “The success rate without the help of surgery (with diet and exercise alone) in people who are 100 pounds above their ideal body weight is 0.5 percent,” says the doctor. “With the help of surgery, say a bypass, the success rate is more than 90 percent.”

For further information: www.twellness.net, and www.drahmadmd.com. The contents of this article and provision of links should not be considered as medical advice. Weight loss and fitness programs should only be undertaken after consultation with a physician or licensed health professional.

By Tania Bhattacharya

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