Optimal health is for life

In less than a minute, while waiting at many checkout lanes in America, one can be inundated with the latest women’s magazine articles about revving up metabolisms. Anything from stimulant pills, special foods and exercises, and even continual eating have been touted by the so-called dieting experts. One can also watch most any episode of a popular TV show and see fitness trainers screaming metabolism lectures in the faces of crying, obese contestants.

In a recent post titled, “Metabolic rate: the slower, the better” Dr. Fuhrman busted the metabolic myth. He stated that eating high nutrient, low calorie foods helps achieve a slower metabolism that has many health promoting and anti-aging benefits. Basically, a slower metabolism is highly favorable for optimal health and longevity.

For me personally, I can eat the exact same thing as I did the year that I lost 100 lbs and gain weight now. When I was obese, I could consume a whopping 3700 calories per day just to maintain that size. Now, because my body is well-nourished, closer to an ideal weight, and functioning at a slower metabolism, I require much less food. If I’m careless and eat when I’m not truly hungry, the weight can easily creep back on.   

For example, this past winter, due to my slower metabolic rate and living in northern Indiana, I was constantly cold. I tried layering extra clothing and drinking hot herbal teas, but the only thing that genuinely comforted me was a bowl of warm oatmeal. I would eat it mid-afternoon when I was the coldest; not because I was hungry, but because I was cold. I would literally “hug” the hot bowl and let the steam warm my face! Ahhhh . . . . 

However, the scales told me that that was stupid. Thankfully, when I listened to my body’s signals for true hunger and made wise choices again, the weight dropped off. 

Again, this past summer, with longer days, the kitchen became “alive” about 9:30 pm when my husband and children gathered after evening activities. Again, I wasn’t hungry, but in the midst of my family’s “social hour,” I nibbled. Well, once again, the scales revealed my stupidity. 

A well-nourished, healthy body really does require much less food than expected. There’s a learning curve to maintaining great health, but if one uses common sense in implementing:

  1. eating healthfully

  2. eating only when hungry

  3. and stopping when satisfied

Optimal health is for life.    



image credit -  flickr: rockymountainhigh

Gaining 1 pound per year increases breast cancer risk

Overweight/obesity is a significant risk factor for breast cancer.1 The American Institute for Cancer Research estimates that 17% of breast cancers (this equates to 33,000 new cases per year) are due to excess weight alone, and women who are obese when diagnosed are more likely to die from breast cancer after diagnosis.2

Obese womenA study of 72,000 postmenopausal women presented at the 2010 American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting took into account body mass index (BMI) at age 20 and at their current age (55-74), and compared breast cancer risk between those who gained weight and those who did not. They found that a 5 point increase in BMI during these years doubled the likelihood of postmenopausal breast cancer compared to women whose BMI remained stable.3

Although excess weight has been consistently associated with breast cancer risk, the scientists undertook this study because previous studies investigating BMI or body weight during early adulthood were not conclusive. Rather than look simply at BMI at age 20, they looked at the change in BMI over time. Their results clearly indicate that weight gain puts women at risk for breast cancer, and confirms the importance of maintaining a healthy weight for cancer protection.

How much weight gain is risky?

Weight gain of 30 lbs. in a 5’4” woman would produce a 5 point increase. This may seem like a large amount of weight, but over thirty years, it would be a barely noticeable amount – a steady weight gain of 1 pound per year. This study suggests that even 1 pound per year is a dangerous amount of weight gain. And it turns out that this dangerous amount of weight gain is quite common - 60% of the women in the study had increased their BMI by at least 5 points since age 20.4  This tells us that most American women likely do gain this much weight during adulthood, doubling their risk of breast cancer.

Read more about breast cancer prevention.


1. Cleary MP, Grossmann ME. Minireview: Obesity and breast cancer: the estrogen connection. Endocrinology. 2009 Jun;150(6):2537-42.

2.  Abrahamson PE, Gammon MD, Lund MJ, et al. General and abdominal obesity and survival among young women with breast cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006 Oct;15(10):1871-7.

3. Sue LY, Genkinger JM, Schairer C, Ziegler RG. Body mass index (BMI), change in BMI, and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO) [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2010 Apr 17-21; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; 2010. Abstract number 4823

4. U.S. News & World Report blog: Weight Gain Ups Breast Cancer Risk: 7 Ways to Avoid the Bulge. Deborah Kotz. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/on-women/2010/04/21/weight-gain-ups-breast-cancer-risk-7-ways-to-avoid-the-bulge