Two variables control weight: diet and exercise. To lose weight, a person must employ both. Too much emphasis on one or the other, and balance is distorted. Anorexia and bulimia are two conditions of extreme dieting that result when balance is lost.
Watch Out for That Diet
Anorexia nervosa is a condition that is both psychological and physical. Patients with this condition find themselves unable to eat, even when their bodies are starving. They think about food or dieting constantly and obsessively, they feel fat despite objective proof of the opposite, and they want to lose weight even when there is no indication they should. Left untreated, anorexia can result in death.
Patients with bulimia, like those with anorexia, are obsessed by food, but rather than refusing it, they eat uncontrollably and then force themselves to vomit or take laxatives to avoid gaining weight.
Both of these patterns are extremely damaging to the body and deprive the body of necessary vitamins and minerals.
Fat Control and Weight Control
Weight is easy to measure, but it is not a very good way to determine body fitness. Weight includes bone, muscle, water, fat, and other tissues. But obviously those who have most of their weight in muscle are much better off than those who have most of their weight in fat, even if they weigh the same.
Because muscle weighs more than fat, a person can be building muscle and trimming down the size of his or her body and be gaining weight at the same time. Obsessing about weight can lead to depression when the same changes should lead to elation.
The best way of keeping tabs on your body is to monitor your percentage of body fat. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a body fat monitor you can step on every morning in the bathroom. Body fat can be measured three ways: immersion in water, skin fold measurement by calipers, and electrical impedance. The immersion method is the most accurate, but quite complex and expensive. Calipers measure the thickness of skin folds in certain areas of the arms and abdomen. The thickness depends on the amount of fat under the skin, which is a good indication of total body fat. The electrical impedance method measures the flow of a tiny current of electricity through the body and uses a computer to calculate body fat. The "standard" amount of body fat for a "normal" adult female is 26 percent; for a male, 15 percent. Athletes have less.
This is a section from Dr. Jack E, Jensen’s book The One Stop Knee Shop. Read the next section A Nutrition Plan That Works.