The incidence of obesity is unfortunately high in our American society. More than one third (36.5% according to the CDC)1 of Americans fall in the health category of obesity. The rates of obesity have gone up significantly over the last 20 years, attributed to several factors including high calorie processed food choices and sedentary lifestyle. This high rate of obesity has many health implications as well as an impact on health-care spending.
Obesity is defined as a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or more1. The BMI is a measure of body fat that is based on measured height and weight and applies to adult men and women, there is a similar calculation for children. A healthy adult BMI falls between 18.5-24.9 and the classification of overweight is between 25-29.9. There are limitations to the BMI in that it does not account for true muscle or fat weight, there is no differentiation. As the BMI goes up, the health risks also go up. Some of the diseases that are associated with obesity include type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and CVD (cardiovascular or heart disease)2.
The benefits of weight loss for those classified as obese can include but are not limited to:
- Improved quality of life
- Improved (lower) disease risk
- Improved sleep quality
- Improved sex drive
- Financial benefits
- Energy improvement
- Better hormonal balance
- Improved mood
- Decrease in joint and back pain,
- Improved exercise/physical ability
- Positive influence to friends/family/significant other
- Immunity boost (improved ability to fight infection)
Many strategies can be utilized to successfully move out of obesity and into a healthy weight and healthier life.
Set realistic goals.
Goals can include weight loss numbers but it can also include life changing habits (such as adding in more fruits and vegetables or eliminating processed foods or exercise goals).
Modify your diet.
The use of fad diets for weight loss is one of the least successful means of achieving and maintaining weight loss. There is a much higher success associated with lifestyle modification. Enjoy healthier foods. This includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy oils (olive oil, peanut oil, avocado, coconut oil). Portion sizes should also be reevaluated. Cut back on refined sugar and processed foods (eliminate completely if desired!) Eliminate soda and replace processed grains with whole grains.
It is important to begin with making a commitment to yourself. A long term commitment is needed because change takes time, energy and effort.
Find your motivation.
Identify what your greatest inner motivation is to aid in your long term success. List your reasons for desiring weight loss and refer to them throughout the process as a reminder.
Have a support team.
Identify support people around you that can aid you on your path to a healthier life. Let them aid in holding you accountable.
Increase your active time every day. Aim for 30 minutes of movement daily. Switch up the movements and try to not do the same type of movements everyday.
Look at the committment to leave obesity behind as an investment into yourself and your total well being. Establishing a new perspective that a healthy diet and exercise regimen are not temporary, rather they are your new way of life.