Weight Loss: The weight of change.
The long lockdowns and pandemic stress have resulted in a subtle trend where some have lost their healthy routines, eating habits, and seems to have gained some ‘lockdown weight’.
Nowadays everyone knows the key to be healthy, don’t we? “Avoid artificial and fast foods, eat your greens, don’t overeat, exercise, sleep well, find some time for relaxation”. We all know this. Interestingly though, data shows that despite the historical unparalleled access to information and to health care systems, the worldwide prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016 (WHO). In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight. Of these, over 650 million were obese.
We can’t really say that we lack access to healthy food and exercise options. In fact, we live in a “dieting” society that is overloaded with many forms of exercises and body ideals. However, it seem that among those that enter a diet program, the rates of success are proven to be quite low. An interesting study done in the US showed that in general after 5 years of a diet program, only about 23% of the weight loss is sustained (https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/74/5/579/4737391 ).
We are also surrounded by an obesogenic environment. Food, and specially high caloric food, has never been so easily and readily available in history. Between 2003 and 2006, the top 3 food sources of energy for US adults were breads and rolls; cakes, cookies, quick bread, pastry and pie; and sugary beverages. Another study found that homemade cheeseburgers were 25% larger and contained an additional 136 calories compared with typical cheeseburgers 20 years earlier. Take also into account the very recent development of food app deliveries. Even the social interaction (effort?) required to order and eat is removed.
And we should not forget the ‘number one’ factor present in most health conditions: stress. Stress increases appetite for ‘bad’ things, changes the metabolic states of the body, the hormonal balance, and even where the body will prefer to store fat.
The conclusion we can take is that the matter of weight and health is a multi factor one. Only dieting or only exercising without taking a closer look into our internal and external environments might prove with time to be a failure.
While the development of modern medicine has brought incredible improvements in acute health conditions, we still see a world that is plagued by the uprising of chronic diseases related to lifestyle. We never had so much access to strong medications and health care, but still diabetes, obesity (and all the related issues derived from it), chronic inflammatory conditions, and depression are on the rise.
Our understanding at Plantation Villa is derived from the ancient time tested knowledge of Yoga and Ayurveda, in that we need to find a diet that is: following a timely routine for meals, taking care of the quantity of food, being careful with the preparation (such as what oils are being used), and eating with a sense of self respect (mindful). The same goes for exercising according to the stage of life, the times of the day, and the intensity that is adequate. This is a process that is essentially personal.
Both Ayurveda and Yoga also brings emphasis to desire. According to them, desire has the flipside of agitation, which has the consequence of stress. To cope with the growing sense of uneasiness and dissatisfaction, we end up caught in habits that give fast gratification, but often prove to be unhealthy in the long run (‘bad’ foods being one of the commons and mostly available). Therefore, a long term program has to teach forms of relaxation and self regulatory techniques. Furthermore, it should also provide platforms for philosophical inquiry, because in the end, what creates most of our choices is our ‘underlying backbone’: our view on life and the meaning we give to it. For some this might be connected to spirituality or religion, while for others it can be through charity, family, the choice of friends, or the development of a new interest in life.
We wish that you find a diet that is not only physical, but also mental. One that is not only performed, but actually lived.