According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov) one third of adults and approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents in the United States are obese. These statistics are not only staggering but frightening as being overweight or obese has been proven to contribute heavily to the development of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.
There is good news though! Subtle lifestyle changes can help you lose extra pounds and ensure you maintain a healthy weight moving forward. Losing a modest weight loss of 5 to 10 per cent of your body weight can improve blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels and decrease your risk for chronic disease. Visiting your health care provider and discussing any weight related risk factors you might be susceptible to will help you come up with an achievable, personalized and safe weight loss plan to help you achieve your specific goals.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low fat or fat free dairy products and drinking plenty of water. If you are struggling pinpointing where you are going wrong with your diet then a food journal can be a real eye opener. Sometimes we “think” we are eating a well balanced and healthy diet but seeing it on paper can really pinpoint excess calories, high fat foods, or the amount of water you are actually consuming daily. Writing literally everything your eat ,when you eat and when you tend to overeat in a journal over a 10 day period will highlight your bad habits leaving you in a position to replace them with healthier habits. For instance if you find you overeat while watching television, turn the tv off during mealtimes, if you tend to overeat at dinner time, drink a glass of water prior to your meal, chew slowly and use a smaller plate.
Watching what you eat and drink is only half the picture though, getting enough physical activity is also key to long term weight loss. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week for adults along with strength training two days per week. Note, the words “moderate exercise.” So for those of you who literally hate the thought of exercise, ensuring you do something every day maybe for two/three 10 minute intervals will be enough to meet these guidelines. The twice a week strength training recommendation doesn’t have to mean you join a gym, in the beginning you can do exercises at home that use your own body weight such as push-ups, tricep dips, lunges and squats.
However, you chose to go about making changes, don’t underestimate the power of the small stuff, a subtle change is better than none at all. Set yourself realistic goals, it really is the key to success. Commit to a well-thought-out and personalized plan that fits your schedule so that you develop healthy behaviors that will prevent obesity and chronic disease in the future.