To the ordinary person a study of the different systems of weight reduction is a little confusing. One enthusiast insists that obesity can be cured by leaving out starch from the dietary. Another excludes fat, both animal and vegetable, whilst yet another advises people to take plenty of butter and milk. Then there is the system which makes one live upon lean meat and water, whilst the vegetarian enthusiasts declare that, to keep thin, one has only to become a rigid vegetarian. The fact is that dieting alone will not suffice to cure excessive fatness. Exercise, baths, massage, and a regulated and active mode of life are necessary in addition. Diet is, of course, of very great importance; but it is not a good thing to lay down hard and fast rules, as the diet that suits one person may be very unsuccessful with another.
Some of the best known diets are: 1. The banting system which allows lean meat and green vegetables, and very little else.
2. Another authority, Dr. Ebstine, allows patients fat in the form of butter and milk, eggs and meat, but he excludes starches and sugars from every meal, as these favour the deposit of fat in the* tissues. That is, you must not eat potatoes and milk puddings, which contain a great deal of starch, and you should avoid sugar, sweets, and all sweet foods.
3. Then there are the exponents of "dry diets" and "wet diets." Certain authorities say that no fluids should be taken with meals.
4. The opposite school approves of a wet diet, because water aids excretion of waste substances from the body.
5. The Oertal system limits the amount of fluid to one and a half pints in twenty-four hours, and allows very small quantities of fat and starchy foods. The meals must consist chiefly of nitrogenous foods, such as lean meat and lentils, in very small amounts. In addition to the diet, Dr. Oertal advises regulated exercise in hill-climbing. Where hills are not available, an inclined plane or plank can be supported on a box in the bedroom for "climbing" exercises. The great point is that the plane must be gradually made steeper and steeper until the person is able to climb mountains without strain, breathlessness, or fatigue.
The advantages of massage upon the general health and nutrition of the body are very great. It promotes a healthy state of the muscles and skin. It stimulates all the functions of the body, and improves the circulation by bringing an increased supply of blood to the muscles and soft parts. Massage in the ordinary way is generally done by another person, but less is known concerning the value of self-massage. Self-massage is simple friction or rubbing of the skin in a circular fashion. With the finger-tips go down the neck, chest, and abdomen. Any person can massage her own spine by bending slowly forwards and rubbing the spine with the finger-tips laid flat, first with one hand ana then the other. Massage of the hips is quite a simple matter, whilst deep breathing in itself is really a massage of the organs by the ascending and descending diaphragm. Massage of the abdominal organs also is achieved by the bending movements of the body described later.
Sir Lauder Brunton compares massage of the body with the clearing out of the ashes from a fire. Massage stirs out the waste products from the muscles and sweeps them into the general circulation, to be shed from the body by the kidneys and the skin. In most cases of obesity massage of the muscles should be practised. The massage should be done night and morning whilst lying in bed, with the finger tips applied in circular strokes, and the movement should go up the right side, across the waist line, and down the left side. Another method of massage is with the ball of the hand, which does not press so deeply on the underlying organs. One of the latest American cures for obesity is rolling. The patient lies flat on the floor, and rolls first to one side and then to the other. This is simply self-massage of the body, and is quite a good method of reducing weight combined with exercises and diet.
Medicinal baths cannot very well be undertaken at home, and this article is specially written for the home woman who is not able to go abroad for the treatment of obesity. In some of the well-known spas massage under water can be obtained, and it has certainly a very great influence upon obesity as well as rheumatic affections of joints.
Turkish baths, under the direction of a doctor, are extremely useful in obesity, in that they increase the skin's action and get rid of some of the excessive waste substances from the body. The daily bath in itself, however, will do a great deal of good. First, the body must be vigorously rubbed with soap and water applied with a loofah. The friction is excellent for the skin and underlying t i s -sues. After rinsing in tepid water, slowly, while rising to a standing position a cold sponge all over the body, followed by a brisk rub down with a rough towel, will confer a sense of invigoration which is excellent for the mind as well as the body. The morning bath not only improves the circulation of the blood, it cleanses the tiny pores of the skin and stimulates the nerve centres' by its tonic influence upon the nerve endings in the skin. It is an absolute necessity in the treatment of obesity, and should be taken daily all the year round.
Kneel on one knee, and with the other foot firmly placed on the ground and the arms outstretched, lower the arms punching are three of the best exercises for obesity. An ordinary football can be suspended from the ceiling, and, whilst wearing gloves to protect the fists, this can be pummelled first with the one hand and then with the other.
With the hands on the hips and the heels together, bend the knees as far as possible, and gradually sit down upon the heels
Fencing (instructions for which are given on page 928, Part 7) can be practised with an ordinary walking-stick. The exercises as considered in the last article were chiefly for the arms and upper part of the body. It is extremely necessary, however, in the treatment of obesity that the legs and hips should also receive their due measure of healthy exercise. The following will prove highly beneficial:
1. With the hands on the hips and the heels together, bend the knees forwards as far as possible, and gradually sit down upon the heels.
2. Kneel on one knee, with the other foot planted firmly forwards, with the arms outstretched. Whilst letting the arms slowly sink to the side rise into the standing posture. Repeat on the other knee.
3. Whilst lying flat on the floor rise to a sitting posture without using the hands.
4. Stand with the heels together and the left hand resting on the hip. Lift the right foot forwards and swing it outwards and backwards as far as you can. Then bring it round to the original position. Repeat the exercise several times. When the left foot is swinging, let the right hand rest on the right hip.
5. Lie over the seat of a chair on which a cushion has been placed, and move your arms forwards in the swimming movement, at the same time stretching the legs to their fullest extent.
Stand with heels together and the left hand resting on the hip, and then swing the right leg backwards and forwards as far as possible. Repeat with the other leg
6. Of floor exercises, the simplest is an ordinary creeping exercise, walking on the hands and toes.
If these exercises are practised for ten minutes night and morning', combined with five miles' walk a day, all that is necessary to reduce obesity is being done. Diet, of course, is essential, whilst massage and baths must never be neglected. No medicines should be taken whilst this course is being practised, except a glass of mineral water in equal quantity of hot water night and morning.