The Weight Loss Debate

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Many people struggle with weight. As a result, lots of individuals are known to have resorted to drastic measures to lose extra pounds. While this can be detrimental to ones health, maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health and for the prevention and control of many diseases and conditions. ESTHER KIRAGU examines the weight issue and talks to a woman who has conquered post-body weight.

The world is evolving very fast. Lifestyles are changing and busy schedules have become a norm forcing people to adjust their lifestyles to fit into a contemporary way of life. Many nutritionists have blamed this shift of lifestyle for the rising cases of obesity and overweight that a lot of people face today. Additionally, serious life threatening conditions like cancer and diabetes, high blood pressure, and many other weight related problems are now on the increase.

A report recently published by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) states that thousands of young Kenyans hoping to make a career in the armed forces might never realise their dreams because of increasing obesity and early onset of other lifestyle diseases. This has become a concern at the ministry of public health and sanitation, that it is now developing a policy to incorporate more exercise, healthy eating, and responsible living for recruits in the armed forces in Kenya.

The increase of lifestyle diseases has made more people think about their health critically and now more people are conscious about their weight. The World Health Organization (WHO), for instance, recommends that a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or less and weight loss of up to seven per cent of body weight should help a patient slow the rate of advancement of diabetes. Recent research findings indicate that weight may be critical during the management of diabetes, as lower weight (slim) individuals have been found to be at a higher risk of facing early diabetic related deaths than overweight patients, in new onset diabetes cases.

Although both men and women are conscious about weight, women seem to be much more concerned. Those who are skinny wish they could put on a little more weight, while the rounder ones wish they could be so much leaner. Perhaps this obsession can be attributed to appearance. Many women believe they are likely to be judged based on their appearance. In many cases this assumption is true. However, the bottom line needs to be being healthy rather than being skinny.

In a desperate need to lose weight, some people turn to drastic measures. Some of these include weight loss pills, laxatives, binge eating and forced vomiting, crash dieting and even surgery. All weight loss is not the same. There are healthy and unhealthy ways to lose weight. While drastic measures may achieve fast weight loss, albeit briefly, there maybe additional long-term health implications. It is recommended that for effective weight loss you combine a well-balanced diet and exercise, as this is a sustainable way to maintain a healthy weight.

1 Veronica’s journey of weight loss…

A lawyer and entrepreneur, Veronica Mbugua’s ideal weight has always been 70kgs. She attributes this to her heavy bones. Growing up, she watched her mother and sister suffer from arthritis and diabetes. In addition, her mother also suffers from high blood pressure. This made her become health conscious, as she was prone to hereditary diseases.

But when she gave birth to her first child in 1998 her weight jumped from 70kgs to 82kgs. With time she was able to lose the pounds and go back to her previous weight. “I think I was able to lose that weight easily because I was young,” says Veronica amidst a chuckle.

At the age of 41years, she gave birth to her second child and her weight increased to 84kgs. By the time she got her third child two years later, she weighed 86 kgs. Veronica found herself in the same situation as many other new mums with pounds to lose after childbirth and no idea how to do it.

Desperate, she tried acupuncture – a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves insertion of extremely thin needles through one’s skin at strategic points on the body causing energy flow to re-balance. Acupuncture is believed to influence hormones that cause obesity by increasing ghrelin, a hormone that controls meal initiation and decreasing leptin, a hormone that regulates fat storage and metabolism. The guiding principal is that acupuncture can curb appetite, regulate obesity-related hormones, quell cravings, improve digestion, boost metabolism and enhance the way nutrients are used. However, acupuncture didn’t work for Veronica and so she didn’t lose any weight.

She turned to physical exercises and ran several laps day a for about one and a half months but still there was no change in her weight, though she admits she wasn’t too keen about her diet. The thing that made her give up running was the severe knee aches she suffered after her runs.

Her weight loss breakthrough came in 2012 when she was in a salon in Westlands. “I bumped into a friend who I always knew to be a plus size woman. She had cut down some weight and looked really nice. Curious about the secret to her weight loss, I asked her what she did. She referred me to a gym in Westlands where she was a member. The gym used power plate machines for exercise. I immediately signed up for gym membership and diligently followed through with the physical exercise. Unbelievably in a span of two months I had shed off four kilogrammes of fat. With time the pain on my knees was no more,” says Veronica.

“In addition I had been suffering from back pain due to an operation I had gone through in 2009 for a prolapsed disc. The pain had resumed after giving birth but once I began exercising on the power plate machine, the pain was no more. When I noticed how effective the exercises were based on the results I got, I was convinced that this needed to be part of my lifestyle. I contemplated buying the power plate machine for my personal use but it was not going to be economical because the machine was too expensive. Besides, exercising on the machine requires you to have a personal trainer,” she explains.

After much thought, Veronica decided to purchase some power plate machines in November 2012 and start a gym to help out others who had struggled with weight like her. This led her to open Workout Express, a gym in Nairobi’s Parklands area in February 2013. Although the business picked up and was doing well, she felt the need to have a spacious environment that could also expand to offer spa treatments and services. And so at the beginning of 2014, she relocated the business to Nairobi’s 6th Parklands Avenue on Muthaiga Court, along Limuru road.

She also has an office for her private law practice, which makes it very convenient for her to exercise as well.  She says she is glad that now exercising is a lifestyle for her and as a result she has become very fit.

“One of the milestones I achieved in mid-April 2014 was climbing to the peak of Mount Longonot and making three laps round the crater,” says a proud Veronica. I love how the power plate’s exercises strengthen one’s muscles. Most physical exercises, especially running and treadmill exercises, injure your ligaments and over time you start suffering from knee problems but the power plate helps you strengthen your bones and muscles. The other added beauty is that you save time as you can only exercise on the machine for a maximum of 30 minutes, thrice a week. It is not recommended to exercise on the machine daily,” she explains, adding that it’s ideal for people who have no time to exercise or even those who hate the gym.

The power plate machine…

Power plate is a machine that exercises the body’s muscles by using vibrations to stimulate muscles to contract and relax. Generally, body muscles are said to contract once or twice a second but vibrations of the power plate cause automatic reflex muscle contraction of 30 to 50 times a second. Due to this intensity it means that you get a full body workout by simply standing on it.

Some of the benefits accrued from exercising through the power plate include improved blood circulation, increased muscle strength and flexibility, and decreased cellulite. Other benefits include improved posture and bone density, as well as giving you balance and co-ordination.

It is claimed that 30 minutes on the power plate will have the same results as 90 minutes of conventional strenuous training. It is advisable to use the machine with the help of a personal trainer to avoid injury and to also watch your diet even as you exercise.

One of the major concerns raised from the use of the power plate is the high-amplitude vibration. It is therefore not recommended to use the machines for over 30 minutes at any one session. Pregnant women are also discouraged from exercising on the machine.

“It not so much about weight since you can have more lean muscles which is good, but for me it’s about the health implications that come with the weight. I would recommend the power plate exercises to anyone regardless of their weight,” Veronica concludes.

 

You can contact Veronica on 0733-405-407 or 0722-405-407.

To find out more about Work Express visit www.workoutexpress.co.ke

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Published in July 2014

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