As a group, Americans are the heaviest people in the world. We’re suffering a weight epidemic of massive proportions that bulges out on our hips, thighs and stomachs. But if you’re part of this group and want to bring your weight down, changing six aspects of your lifestyle may help take off pounds.
Many experts have warned that the growing number of overweight people in the United States represents a growing public health menace. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes the problem seems to be just about out of control: 73 percent of us are overweight, and about 40 percent of overweight people are heavy enough to be classified as obese.
While overweight and obesity are not diseases, they often lead to preventable diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
The good news is that there are fundamental reasons why people gain weight, keep it on and gain enough weight to be obese. Once you recognize the reasons for your weight problem — the thoughts, actions and behaviors that lead to bad habits — you can change. With change comes a wonderful emergence of weight loss, less pain, more range of motion and more vibrant health.
You can classify most poor lifestyle characteristics into six fixable categories:
1. Health Is Not A Priority
Compare your concern with your weight to your devotion to brushing your teeth. Most of us brush every day as a matter of habit because we’ve made it a priority to have and maintain good oral hygiene. And you almost never let yourself become so busy that you skip brushing.
Do you give the same priority to your muscles, bones and organs? Why not get in the habit of doing things daily that provide them with good physical health, too?
Simple Solutions: Think of a healthy body in the same way you think of healthy teeth. Find simple things to do each day that incorporate wellness like walking, cleaning, dancing, cranking out 100 pushups or crunches per day. Be proactive, think about each day and what progress you can make toward your weight-loss goals, like walking to the store or taking the stairs at work. In any case, setting a time each day to do something for your health and fitness can help make wellness a sustainable habit.
2. Work Rules Your Life And Waistline
Whether you are a busy business executive, bus driver or a full-time mother, you probably tell yourself that you don’t have time to eat healthfully or to work out regularly. So much to do, so little time. Work, family, other commitments: There’s just no time for exercise or taking the time to eat right.
Simple Solutions: Create small workouts in the margins of your day. Walking is a great activity because it boosts metabolism, strengthens legs and keeps hip flexors supple. A 20-minute walk can burn 100 calories. To increase all of these good things, make it a brisk walk and be sure to swing your arms. No time to walk? Engage in vigorous housework, which can burn hundreds of calories a day.
3. The Home Office Junk Food Nightmare
Working from home may sound ideal for fitness and weight loss. But if you have a pantry full of goodies, it can become a weight-control nightmare. Temptation surrounds you. Doritos in the cabinet, cookies in a jar on the counter, ice cream lurking in the freezer. Who wants salad when donuts beckon? Working from home requires discipline, especially when it comes to snacking.
Simple Solutions: If you work from home, keep fresh fruits, nuts, veggies and whole grains on hand. Also, be sure to eat three to six times per day on a regular schedule. Don’t skip meals and graze all day. And if you get bored or are burned out from the daily grind, get up and move around, take a walk, get out of the house. Chances are, if you stay cooped up indoors, you will eat for stress relief.
4. Eating To Combat Emotional Issues
At times, you can’t help but hate the world, your job, your car, your kids, your friends, your spouse, etc. You love them all, except on the days when you’ve had enough. Why not have another Oreo to feel better? You gobble one down, but then you feel bad for snacking. This leads you to eat more to compensate and bring on additional feel-good emotions. This support, however, lasts only a short while until you’re in a nasty cycle of binging.
Simple Solutions: If you have a real problem dealing with your emotions and if you have turned to food for relief, you may need to seek help from a counselor. But if your emotional eating is only episodic, the solution is to reframe your mind and disqualify food as an answer for emotional turmoil. Eating does not solve emotional problems. Rather than eating, think about the issues that face you and list the possible solutions. It’s better to really resolve these issues and move on, than to punish yourself with weight gain.
5. No Waiting Means Extra Weight
We Americans are completely spoiled by having all of our consumer desires available on demand. We want what we want and we want it here practically before we even ask for it. So we have drive-thru and delivery meals, cable and Internet television, shopping and data available at our fingertips 24/7. No effort, no waiting time necessary, just instant gratification. But this type of instant gratification makes you fat. Case in point: Every time you drive to the mall and spend time looking to score the parking space closest to the door, you eliminate walking that can burn off calories.
Simple Solutions: Park far from the mall doors and walk for exercise at no charge. Forget the TV remote control and get off the couch each time you want to change the channel. Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator whenever possible. Before you automatically stuff a treat in your mouth, think about what you want to eat and even if you need to eat. You may decide you really don’t want anything.
6. The Weight Is In Your Genes
We each have a different genetic makeup that dictates what kind of body we possess. While exercise can help you become healthier, you still might carry more body mass than some people who never work out. But remember that a trim body is not always an indicator of good health. Skinny people still get heart disease and diabetes. And if genetics has placed an unfair disadvantage your way, compensate for it, don’t give in to it.
Simple Solutions: Genetic weight is a sensitive subject. Some researchers believe it is not genetics but a home environment that makes an entire family prone to gaining weight. In other words, when kids eat the same unhealthy stuff as their parents, they end up weighing as much as their parents. In the end, it is up to all family members to change their diets and exercise. The combined dynamic duo of better food and activity can make you look and feel more incredible than you ever imagined possible. Genetics can put you at risk for being overweight. But your lifestyle choices actualize that risk or prevent it from becoming your fate.
If there truly is a secret about becoming healthy and fit, it’s found in the mindset that requires making your health a top priority. You can hire someone to cook for you. You can hire someone to take care of your kids. You can even hire someone to drive you to work. But you cannot hire someone to make you healthy. They can guide you and show you the way, but you have to be the one who that works toward that goal.
By changing the choices you make, you can prevent the lifestyle habits that lead to weight gain and which can result in obesity and preventable disease and premature death. In short, being obese is as much of a choice as is being in good health. Which choice are you ready to make?
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