Is your weight out of control?
Weight management is by far the single greatest reason why a majority of us take up exercise in the first place.
And while there is plenty of literature out there addressing the subject of weight loss, rarely, if ever, do we get to take a good, hard and honest look at the actual reasons why we gain weight in the first place.
Many of us would like to believe that weight gain is just some form of rebellion; our bodies turn against us for some unknown reason.
But nothing could be further from the truth. Weight management, comes down to a single word; metabolism, which refers to the entire set of chemical reactions that take place within our bodies in order to yield the energy we need.
The average adult human being has a basal (rest) metabolic rate of about 2,200 calories, meaning we tend to burn off 2,200 calories through life sustaining activities such as maintaining a constant body temperature.
So what happens for instance, when we consume more than 2,200 calories a day and do not burn off the excess through some form of physical activity?
Just a slight increase of about 100 calories over and above our daily energy requirements, will hardly seem like much in the beginning.
However, this will translate into about 3000 calories a month, just shy of one pound of fat. In just one year, you will have gained about 10 pounds or five kilogrammes of fat.
If you used to exercise consistently on most days of the week and then you stopped, for whatever reason, you increase the probability of gaining weight.
While you were exercising seriously you were burning say 200 to 300 calories a day.
Now that you have stopped exercising you are still consuming the same number of calories as before, but you are no longer using up the 200 or 300 calories.
The result is that you will gain 200 to 300 calories a day or roughly 6,000 to 9,000 calories a month. This translates to anywhere between a half to one kilogramme of fat every month.
Keep this up for a year and you will have gained 12 to 18 kilogrammes in just one single year.
This means that you need to eat better and move more in order to win your battle against weight gain, there is simply no other way.
For some people however, even with proper nutrition and regular exercise, uncontrolled weight gain still continues to be a problem.
In cases like this, the trigger may turn out to be a medical condition or a pronounced change in lifestyle.
Lack of sleep and prolonged exposure to high levels of stress can, for instance, precipitate the release of the hormone cortisol, which scientists now associate with the presence of visceral fat around the tummy and waistline.
It is imperative to note that this is the most dangerous kind of fat, given it proximity to key organs such as the liver from where it finds its way up into key arteries and eventually the heart.
It is very closely associated with heart attacks, diabetes and a host of other comorbid diseases.
Medical conditions such a hypothyroidism, or a deficiency in the thyroid hormone, which plays a part in regulating your metabolism, can cause rapid weight gain and lethargy.
If this is the problem, a doctor can easily diagnose it and prescribe the appropriate medication. Medication can also be one of the reasons for gaining weight.
Some prescription drugs used to treat depression, migraines, blood pressure, arthritis and diabetes can also precipitate sudden weight gain, even without any specific change in your lifestyle.
If you are on any medication you may need to speak to your doctor about the possible side effects, including weight gain, and what you can do to mitigate them.
For women, menopause brings with it several changes, some of which will be evident in body shape.
At this stage in life, the woman produces much less oestrogen resulting in body fat migrating from the hips and thighs and concentrating more around the waistline.
This can be avoided by focusing more on strength training with a view to increasing lean muscle mass.
The bigger part of weight management has to do with recognising the reasons why we gain weight in the first place.
Understanding the root causes of the problem is the first step towards finding a lasting and permanent solution.
Raymond is a fitness consultant. To join the conversation on Facebook, search raymondonyango.com.