The Well Up Challenge – a journey to weight loss and wellness:
Over the past year Longevity hosted a weight loss and wellness challenge which aimed to improve the overall wellness of a group of overweight candidates over a nine month period. Our panel of experts provided advice and support to the participants during this time taking into consideration all lifestyle influences such as diet and fitness as well as mental determination. The result was that as a group, the WellUP group lost a total of 132kgs and 116,2cm lost, with each candidate feeling and looking healthier.
The article that follows shares some of the helpful guidelines, inspiration and lessons we learned during the challenge, which you can also apply to your daily life.
Metabolic Syndrome & You
Worried that you may be at risk for developing health problems due to your weight? Take a look at our check list to help determine your metabolic risk.
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
“Metabolic syndrome is the name given to a group of medical risk factors that, if occurring together in an individual, increase that person’s risk of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes,” says King.
“The following list of symptoms may indicate that you’re at metabolic risk and may develop vascular disease later in life if left undiagnosed,” says Dr King. If you can answer yes to four or more of the following statements, it’s time to see your doctor for a check-up and to start making lasting lifestyle changes.
What Are The Symptoms of metabolic Syndrome?
Certain risk factors are hereditary; others can be influenced by healthy lifestyle changes. These include:
- Weight gain, especially around the waist, with an abdominal measurement of more than 80cm in women and 94c m in men
- A fasting blood sugar level of 5,6mmol/l
- Blood pressure of 130/80, or higher
- HDL cholesterol of lower than 1,2mmol/l
- LD L cholesterol of over 3mmol/l
- Increased testosterone levels
- General unfitness, lethargy and exhaustion
- Sleep disturbances, sleep apnoea and snoring.
Understanding My Health
Dr Ela Manga, integrative medical practioner and medical director of Woodlands Healing Spa and Centre for Conscious Living, explains:
“Body fat behaves like another gland, producing hormones that inhibit the functioning of other hormones and causing havoc with the entire endocrine system. One of the most common findings is that adipose tissue alters the body’s response to insulin, leading to insulin resistance and diabetes.”
Studies reveal that the “bad” fat contains cytokines, hormone-like proteins implicated in chronic inflammation. These cytokines are believed to increase your risk by increasing oxidative stress. They boost free-radical production and impair your insulin function, affecting both your sugar and fat metabolism.
“Elevated triglyceride levels in the blood are also commonly associated with insulin resistance and represent a valuable clinical marker of metabolic syndrome.”
King says that metabolic syndrome is your red flag and, left unchecked, will lead to further chronic issues.
According to the American Heart Association, this is characterised by visceral fat, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high fibrinogen, high blood pressure, insulin resistance and inflammation.
If you have at least three of these risk factors, you have metabolic syndrome. If not reversed, metabolic syndrome will most likely lead to heart disease and diabetes. However, says King, while this may seem frightening, metabolic syndrome itself is not irreversible.
So What Now?
“A visit to your doctor and blood tests will reveal your numbers and assist with diagnosing metabolic syndrome, but once diagnosed, lifestyle changes can be implemented, ” says Manga.
“A healthy diet and regular exercise can turn this around. Exercise targeting the abdomen will help flatten your belly and reduce your waistline, while a daily 30- to 60-minute brisk walk will have added benefit on the visceral fat.” King says: “Basically, fat should make up only 20% of your total body weight. Anything in excess of 30% is problematic.” He adds: “A five to 10% reduction in weight over a six – month period is considered realistic and healthy.
Look to losing around 500g a week, but know that this is a lifelong plan for long-term results. It needs to become a way of life.
Make A Change
Metabolic syndrome doesn’t have to be a death sentence. The first steps in turning your life around are acknowledging that there’s a problem, committing to dealing with it safely and with the help of your medical professional, and making lasting lifestyle changes. But if you ignore it – or fall off the wagon – the prognosis turns bleak, especially when coupled with factors like smoking and drinking. Obesity will affect your lifespan:
“When it comes to alcohol, the recommended daily allowance has been reduced from 30mg per day to 25mg per day,” advises King. He explains that moderation is key, as is paying attention to the percentage of alcohol present in what you’re drinking. He says, “The higher the percentage of alcohol, the higher the risk.” Try to limit yourself to 1,5 tots of spirits per day or 1,5 glasses of wine per day. He adds: “We’re seeing an increase in the occurrence of atrial fibrillation, also known as irregular heartbeat, in men in recent times and, when mixed with too much alcohol, it can be a dangerous situation. Alcohol increases blood pressure and this will put you at a greater stroke risk through clotting.”
King concludes: “The results you’ll achieve from lasting lifestyle changes are directly determined by your levels of motivation. It’s vital that you’re disciplined, do the hard work in terms of diet and exercise and lean on the support system you have in place.”