The United States is in the middle of an obesity epidemic. We have more adults who are obese (78 million) than any other country in the world. Perhaps more alarming, almost 30 percent of children under 20 are either obese or overweight (the comparable stat from 1980 was 19 percent). All of this is concerning because a host of health concerns accompany obesity, including sleep apnea, osteoporosis, kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and high blood pressure. Here are some wellness-focused actions to get you started fighting obesity.
Eating a Balanced Diet
A guiding star on your trek toward weight loss is the “80/20” rule: In other words, 80 percent of losing weight comes down to eating right, while 20 percent is exercise. You don’t have to adhere strictly to the 80/20 rule, but keep in mind that a wholesome diet is a cornerstone to slimming down. So eat dairy (cheese, yogurt, low-fat milk), whole grains (bread, pasta, cereals), protein (eggs and beans), and fruits and veggies (eight or more servings per day). Also, some fats can actually be good for you, as long as they’re healthy fats like those found in nuts, avocados, and omega-3 fish. Just reduce your intake of sodium and processed foods and manage your portion size. Oh, and cut out sugar. Sugar is your enemy.
Enjoyable Workout Routine
Even though 80 percent of staying fit comes down to eating right, the other 20 percent―exercise—is still important. Whether it’s tennis, running, basketball, jumping rope, or rock climbing, what you do doesn’t matter so much as long as you enjoy it. People often find working out to be difficult because they can’t muster the motivation to drive across town to a fitness center. So consider installing a home gym. First, find an out-of-the-way part of your house. Install mirrors and interlocking rubber tiles to replicate the feeling of a professional gym. And then buy the right equipment. Sure, you can get the new Peloton for $1,990. But just some kettlebells ($50), resistance bands ($10-$15), or a Swiss ball ($13.19 at Target) will be sufficient inventory for many of your workout goals.
Plenty of Rest
If you want to shed pounds, get enough sleep. Sure, it sounds counterintuitive. Snoozing on the couch helps you lose weight? And, true, simply sleeping won’t torch calories or carve out a six-pack. But sleep does boost your mood, increase your pain threshold, prevent headaches, strengthen your immune system, lower your blood pressure, and reduce your risk of getting in a car accident. And it regulates your weight. When you’re awake longer, your body produces ghrelin, a hormone that spikes your appetite and helps chivvy you along toward the kitchen for that midnight snack. On the other hand, sleep steadies your metabolism.
Mental Health Disorders
Clinicians have long established the connections between obesity and mental health, specifically, the link between weight gain and depression. Studies have also demonstrated that the relationship between mental health disorders and obesity runs in the opposite direction, too. Anxiety, binge-eating, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can all lead to obesity, as well. So if you find that you’re eating a lot to stave off stress or anger, be sure to root out the source of those disorders. Granted, this won’t happen overnight. But if you don’t deal with your problems with food, then no matter how much exercise you get, you’ll still wrestle with obesity.
No matter what someone’s body mass index is, it’s important to adopt some of the weight-loss measures above: Eat right, work out, and get enough sleep. The point isn’t necessarily to adjust the number on the scale, but to adopt healthy habits that will not just whittle inches off your waist, but also add joy into your life.
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