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Weight Off with The Early Show, Part 1

Beginning this morning and for the next 8 weeks, we're going to help you get healthier and show you how to drop a few pounds with our special series Weight Off with the Early Show.

We will profile six people from five cities including a mother-daughter team across the country who have agreed to allow our experts to check up on them as they follow our weight-loss plan. First stop, Los Angeles, where this morning we meet 26-year-old Aishia Mester. Aishia weighs 183 pounds, her goal is to lose 35 of those pounds. Aishia Mester is up early in our Los Angeles bureau, and one of the experts behind the plan, Dr. Louis Aronne an obesity specialist and director of the comprehensive weight control program at New York Presbyterian Hospital, joins us in the New York studio.

The Weight Off with the Early Show weight-loss plan is not a diet. Diets are short-term fixes. This plan is designed to stress long-term, reasonable weight loss through lifestyle adjustments (eating habits and exercise) that can be maintained over time. Over the next 8 weeks, our experts will provide the necessary tools needed to achieve that goal.

Tip of the Day

"Don't get too hungry." This is a simple concept, but one that is easily forgotten. When starting this plan, the intake of fewer calories will throw the body off a little. So eating breakfast as outlined is the first must. Don't wait until starving to eat, for you will be likely to overeat. Instead, eat something healthy every 3 to 5 hours including healthy snacks, so the body doesn't crave food.

Some people choose to lose weight for cosmetic reasons. Yet the overwhelming majority of folks these days cite their primary motivation as the desire to prevent or decrease health risks. According to Aronne, preventing health complications should definitely rank high on the list.

There are at least eight known medical complications associated with being overweight or obese:

  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Stroke.
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Gallbladder disease.
  • Respiratory disease.
  • Dyslipidemia.
  • Certain cancers.

Not to mention that obesity can lead to death.

Now here's the good news. Research indicates a person need only to lose 5% of their body weight to reap the rewards of improved health. So at 5%, the goal of getting healthy is absolutely realistic.

The participants of our series have had physical exams at the show's request. Aronne has studied the results of their blood work and EKG (electrocardiogram). Several, including Aishia Mester, either exhibit present-day weight-related health issues or are at risk for future complications if current eating habits and lifestyle continue.

Aronne wants to make clear that he is not promoting a diet. Rather it is his aim to providour six participants, and the country, with the tools needed to achieve better health through long-term sustained weight loss. That includes a healthier diet and regular exercise.

Our participants are knowledgeable about the plan because they received the first 2 weeks of the plan in advance, along with background on how to get started. They've also been speaking with our experts, gaining insight and advice.

Interview with Aishia Mester

Aishia Mester has had 5 or 6 years of unsuccessful dieting. It's been one fad diet after another. She's never stuck with any one diet for long. In fact, she says she's never really taken the diets seriously because she didn't have the right motivation. At age 19, she even had her jaws wired shut to lose weight, only to cut the wires 3 weeks later. Aronne says this frustration with dieting is common. "Look at OprahShe has all the resources in the world but she still has trouble keeping her weight off," says Aronne.

Aishia says she's never been a small girl and has for years hovered around 170 pounds. That is, until her most recent shock.

Aishia had gotten very frustrated with her weight because she began to see it as an impediment to her career goal of becoming a recording artist. (She's into rap and planning to do a video soon.)

"I finally joined a gym because I wanted to get my weight down. I thought I weighed 173 pounds," says Aishia. When her trainer weighed her, and the scale tipped 183 pounds, Aishia became undone. She realized that she had gained 10 pounds in about 2 months.

What has Aishia done wrong?

Aishia eats only one meal a day and spends the rest of the time snacking. Fast food is where she derives all her nutrition. Soda and juice, packed with carbohydrates and sugar, make up the liquids she puts in her body. There is no rhyme or reason for why she eats the way she does. "Sometimes I eat just because the food is there," says Aishia. And she scarfs it down and consumes fairly large portions.

Aronne says the blood work from Aishia's physical shows no present complications, essentially because she's relatively young. At age 26, even though she is overweight, her cholesterol (good and bad) levels are low and her triclycerides (related to fat in the body) remain in a good range as well.

Yet, if she continues gaining weight, as is the tendency with age, Aronne anticipates she could be setting herself up for diabetes or gallbladder disease.

Aronne says younger people often think they can handle a little weight gain simply because they're young. The real concern should be long range--how that added weight will affect the health 10 years down the line.

Consider this: Aishia's weight falls around her belly nd hips. According to Aronne, when it comes to weight around the belly in adult women, a 10-pound weight gain can increase the risk of diabetes by 90%. A 15-pound weight gain can increase the risk of coronary disease by 50%.

According to Aronne, Aishia can easily cut out 500 calories a day, or more, by cutting out all her high-calorie sugared beverages. At the end of the week, that's a 3,500-calorie deficit that equals about 1 pound of body fat lost a week. And that's just for starters. It goes without saying, the daily fast food runs must come to a halt, and she will have to begin her days with a balanced breakfast.

What has Aishia done right?

Aishia now has a personal motivation--her music career--to get her to her weight-loss goal. Aronne says proper motivation is a great place to start. She's begun working out with a trainer 3 days a week for 2 hours. In Aronne's expert opinion, Aishia's exercise program may be a little excessive. "You don't want to over-exercise, because it is rare that a person will really stick with that kind of routine," says Aronne. He's also concerned that too much exercise could lead to injury.

Aronne says that even the most moderate of exercise programs has proven health benefits. Consider walking more frequently. Now, recommended goal is to exercise 3-5 days a week for 30-45 minutes. Nonetheless, research has found being physically active for 10 minutes at a time (three times daily) brings the same health benefits as exercising three to five times a week for 45 minutes.

Click here to find out more about the "Weight-Off" program.
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