Regain Your Health with Metabolic Syndrome
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Regain Your Health with Metabolic Syndrome

*The content of this post is not meant to be taken as medical advice. Please, ask your medical provider for recommendations and precautions before starting any new exercise or diet plan. This is intended for informational purposes only.

Did you go to the doctor for your regular check-up and discover you have metabolic disorder? It's an odd, increasingly used term. Maybe you're thinking it's the cause of your weight gain. But reality is, weight gain is linked tightly to the chronic health conditions you may face.You aren't alone. According to the CDC, about 1/3 of Americans are overweight to obese,and that number is rising. Obesity is defined as a body mass index of 30 or more. Doctors are diagnosing patients with metabolic syndrome more often. Now it is directly affects you and the people you love. The good news is you can improve your health and get metabolic syndrome under control.
 
What is it?

Metabolic Syndrome, according to the American College of Sport Medicine, is a group of conditions linked to people considered obese- high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high levels of LDL cholesterol, low levels of LDL cholesterol, and high body fat in the mid-section. Men with a waist circumference of 40 inches and women with 35 inches are at greatest risk. Also connected with these factors are increased overall inflammation which can lead to other chronic diseases, such as kidney disease, fatty liver disease, and cancer. This has come about as the result of unhealthy eating habits and low activity levels. When these are coupled with low levels of physical activity, it is only a matter of time before a heart attack or stroke can happen. Our sedentary lifestyle is slowly killing us because we aren't moving as much as God intended. Our easy to grab foods certainly aren't helping. Jobs, modes of transportation, cost of food, among many other reasons, have changed the outlook on our health.

What does that look like for you?

You may be on blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cholesterol medications, or at least warned to change your eating habits and exercise. This syndrome is expensive for you in a number of ways. Americans with this syndrome pay out at least $1,429 more a year than those without it. It also costs through lost work days and reduced mobility which affects our time with our kids and spouses. I've done a lot of fitness assessments with people who fit this category. Sadly, quite a few of them were under 40. You are at risk for heart attack and stroke at a younger age. It can ultimately cost you your life. What a scary prospect!

 
What can you do now?
A lot, actually. You will need to follow the doctor's orders: exercise and change your diet. It sound easy, but it really isn't because it will require a total lifestyle change. Your family and friends are used to you as you were before. It will take time for them to adjust. When they realize how it important it is for you to be around longer for them, they are likely to support your lifestyle change.

Sitting most of the time is horrible on your health. Walking, jogging, biking, swimming, and weight training all help reduce your risk factors. I usually recommend working with a personal trainer who understands how to help individuals with metabolic syndrome. We are all trained how to work with people who are overweight, but this takes someone understands how to work with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and the toll your body is taking from the excess weight. It also requires no intimidation, but lots of motivation and encouragement for a successful start.

If you decide to start out on your own, you need to understand the effects of exercise on people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and higher body weight. With high blood pressure, if you are on medications, your heart rate will not reflect what is really going on with your heart. It will not be accurate for the exertion you will feel. Your blood pressure can drop when you finish cardiovascular exercise, so there are precautions you need to follow. With diabetes, you need to avoid causing your blood sugar to crash. With the additional body fat, it puts a strain on your cardiovascular system and your joints. You may also feel very self-conscious in the gym around people who exercise regularly.
 
Second, you need to stay out of the fast food drive through lane and the prepared food section of the grocery store. There is a lot of fat, sugar, and salt in these foods. Follow the diet plan your physician recommends. Also, the DASH eating plan and MyPlate.gov are very helpful. Eating meals at home together as a family that you prepare will help tremendously. If you need help finding recipes that are healthy and tasty, try WebMd Healthy Recipe Finder.
 
Third, start looking up. It's easy to let life get us down. We have a God in Heaven who cares about what bothers you. You are worth more than the numbers on your scale or the size clothing you wear. Many of my clients who were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome suffered divorce, job loss, or death of a loved one that overwhelmed them. These events triggered unhealthy eating habits which triggered their weight gain and health conditions. If you feel depressed about this condition, your pastor or a licensed Christian clinical counselor may be very helpful. They can help you sort what is eating at you and help you find an effective action plan, as well. You are a very valuable person.

Here are some basic exercise guidelines for people with metabolic syndrome:

  1. Start slowly and carefully with your exercise. If you are a bit huffy, puffy and can talk, this is a good exercise pace. Let your body tell you when it is time to rest. Start with 10-20 minutes if you have not exercised before or break your cardio up into 10 minute segments in your day to add up to 20-40 minutes. Slowly increase the amount of time as it gets easier to do. Cardio 5-6 days a week is ideal. Warm-up 5-10 minutes at comfortable pace. Always cool-down for 5-10 minutes, then stand still for a few seconds when finished to avoid dizziness.
  2. Cardio is helpful when done in intervals. Walk at a brisk pace for 2-5 minutes at  a 6-8 level on an exertion scale of 1-10. Slow down to a comfortable walking pace for 5 minutes, then try a bit harder again. Hill intervals are a great way to handle longer sessions.
  3. You can change the intensity of your workout without moving faster. Change the resistance on an elliptical or bike or the incline on a treadmill. If you are walking your neighborhood or on a track, walk as if you are on a mission. I've told clients to pretend it is Black Friday, there is only one item left they want, but they will get kicked out of the store if they run. Doing this makes heart pump more.
  4. Resistance training helps burn fat, lower your body weight, and build strength. This should be done 2-3 days a week, alternating days, for all major muscle groups. Start light with 10-15 reps for 1-3 sets. If you have a heart condition or painful shoulders, avoid overhead weight work. Ask a fitness professional for modifications of overhead shoulder exercises. Avoid getting up fast when laying on the floor or bench to prevent blood pressure drops.
  5. Wear good supportive shoes. Training or running shoes help pain and injury to your lower body. Wear comfortable, attractive exercise clothing that wicks away moisture. Take a sweat towel with you. Some people prefer to wear an exercise headband to keep sweat from running into their eyes.
  6. Stretch after your workout to avoid injury and tight muscles. Hold stretches for 15-30 seconds, 2-3 times each for major muscles groups in the body. This is especially important for the hamstrings, calf, low back, hip flexors/quads, chest, shoulders.
  7. Drink 8 oz of water an hour before you work out. Sip water periodically throughout your workout. Keep a snack of protein and carbs in case your blood sugar drops, such as fruit and nuts. You may nee the snack after your workout.
  8. Wear medical alert jewelry for health conditions. Conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or any other health condition are important in case of emergency. The iPhone has a heart icon for its health app where you can record important health information in emergencies. If you have it and input your info, take your phone with you so EMS can access it.
 
Helpful tips for food:

  1. Incorporate fresh and/or frozen fruits and vegetables into your diet. Be sure to get dark green leafy vegetables daily, unless you have blood clots that require blood thinners. Check the glycemic index for fruits that are low in sugar, high in nutrition. Follow your doctor's recommendations.
  2. Keep sodium to 1,500 mg or lower daily. Avoid seasonings that include salt and sugar.
  3. Eat whole grains. They are better in nutrition and fiber content, and it takes the body longer to break down in your body.
  4. Cut back on condiments. Avoid fat-free anything because salt and sugar are added to make up for the lack of oils which are flavor enhancers.
  5. Reduce or eliminate red meats. Avoid lunch meats, sausages, hot dogs, and ham with high levels of sodium and preservatives such as sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate. Eat lean proteins such as poultry and fish, and vegetable-based proteins. Be careful with soy if your family has a history of breast or ovarian cancer.
  6. Drink more water. Eliminate soda, alcohol, creamers for coffee, and sweeteners. your doctor for the best sugar substitutes if you feel a need to sweeten foods or drinks.
  7. Steam, broil, or bake foods when cooking. Use healthy oils such as olive, canola, grapeseed, and other plant-based oils when needed. Avoid palm oils, shortening, margarine, and lard.
  8. Weigh and measure your food to avoid overeating. You can find the measurement for a serving size on packaged foods or at MyPlate.gov.
  9. Only eat when you are truly hungry. Have your meals at the dining table as much as possible. Diabetics need to eat 6 mini-meals in the day, usually every 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Measuring foods will help diabetics avoid overeating.

This syndrome can be brought under control. If you start feeling dizzy more often, talk to your doctor since your blood pressure is likely to improve with regular exercise. Test your blood sugar regularly and record it every time. You may need your medications adjusted at some point. Take this information to your doctor's appointments. You will notice a big difference in how you feel and look within a month or two of regular healthy eating and exercise. May God bless you in your pursuit of health!
 
Sites to see:
CDC

Web MD

Other Resources:

American Council on Exercise

Live Strong


 
American Diabetic Association

American Heart Association



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