Tackling Obesity and Living Your Best Life in 2 Easy Steps
Nobody wakes up one day and decides they want to be overweight or obese. And obesity is arguably far more complex than people just “eating too much and not exercising enough.” Actually, a myriad of factors, including genetics, environment, stress, trauma, certain health conditions and medications, and poverty, have led to a staggering 1 billion people projected to become obese by 2030—and the dangers of living with obesity cannot be overstated.
But before we get into the facts and dangers of obesity, it’s important to understand that no matter where you fall on the obesity spectrum, you have the power to make the necessary lifestyle changes to reclaim your health and greatly reduce your risk of serious health complications. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about obesity and equip yourself with actionable, practical steps you can take as early as today to change course and improve your quality of life!
Obesity: What You Need to Know
If you feel alone in your weight struggles, don’t worry—you’re not. According to World Obesity, the number of people living with obesity is set to double, not just in America but across the globe. Having a good understanding of obesity, its causes, and its dangers is a good first step to tackling your own health challenges and achieving your goals. Here are some other important facts about obesity that you may not know:
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A body mass index (BMI) of over 25 is considered overweight, with a BMI of 30 or above is considered obese.
- A BMI calculator can help you determine your individual body mass index.
- The greatest number of people living with obesity are in low- to middle-income countries.
- Poverty and food insecurity play an important role in driving the obesity epidemic as people lack access to healthy and affordable food and quality healthcare and have fewer opportunities for physical activity.
- Those in lower-income households are also prone to cycles of food deprivation and overeating, as well as higher levels of stress and anxiety which can promote weight gain.
- Children raised in food-insecure households are more likely to be sick often, recover more slowly, and experience more frequent hospitalizations.
- Children who don’t eat an adequately healthy diet struggle to concentrate and perform well in school and have higher levels of behavioral and emotional problems through adolescence.
- According to the CDC, obesity is a driver of copious health effects, including all-cause mortality, high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, mental illness, and some cancers.
- Heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death worldwide, can both be caused by obesity.
- Children who are obese have an increased risk of premature onset of related illnesses. Without early intervention, obese children and adolescents will likely continue to be obese in adulthood.
Losing Weight: 2 Small Steps That Pack a Big Punch
Living with obesity can be discouraging. Maybe you’ve tried everything in the book. Maybe you saw a little progress or no progress despite your best efforts. Maybe you experienced rapid weight loss in a short time but gave up too soon for the changes to stick. Whatever the case, sustainable weight loss hinges largely on your ability to be consistent in making small changes each day. After all, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives!
Visit the CDC website for tips for weight loss, or try these easy-to-apply daily changes to achieve healthy weight loss that helps you feel and look your best—for good.
Change your mindset.
Before anything can change in or around you, your headspace has to reflect the trajectory of your goals. You have to believe you are capable of achieving healthy weight loss and sticking to healthy lifestyle changes that will enrich your life and improve your health. Here are some mindset shifts to reflect on while you set goals for your health this year:
- Avoid focusing just on weight loss and commit to being the healthiest you. It’s not just about shedding the pounds—it’s about feeling better, sleeping better, losing the brain fog, and gaining self-esteem and confidence again. There are many non-scale victories that can be just as rewarding as seeing the number change on the scale.
- Instead of seeing each healthy change as a nuisance or a negative, decide that every change you make is a choice to love yourself—not restrict yourself. You are choosing whole foods because you want to nourish your mind and body; not to make yourself miserable. The words we tell ourselves matter.
- The power of belief is transcendent. Believe that you can achieve your health goals, believe you will overcome any challenges that stand in your way, and you will set yourself up for short- and long-term success.
Commit to making small changes consistently.
Bruce Lee once said, “Long-term consistency beats short-term intensity.” This is especially true with weight loss (as you may know if you’ve tried fad or yo-yo dieting in the past). Instant gratification is nice; the rapid changes are certainly catalysts that can help you stay the course. But consistently making easy, practical lifestyle changes is key to sustained weight loss and powerful results. Instead of swearing off sugar for the year, choose to indulge in a favorite treat once a month to avoid the urge to start the restrict/binge cycle. Here are some small changes that compound into remarkable results that you can implement as soon as today:
- Commit to walking every day. Start with a 10-15 minute walk and build up to 20-30. Walking is a highly underrated exercise that can be just as effective as swimming or cycling. As a plus, walking outdoors can boost your mental health, too. Win-win!
- Start habit-stacking. In the book Atomic Habits, author James Clear teaches people wanting to make positive changes stick how to stack habits on top of each other for the best results. One way to habit stack is to listen to an encouraging or personal development podcast or an audiobook while walking each day. Or commit to a short 10-15-minute walk the second you close your laptop for your lunch break. These habits add up!
- Make your plate more colorful. Instead of focusing on foods you are restricting, focus your efforts on making your plate more vibrant and colorful! Eat the rainbow by including in-season fruits and vegetables at each meal.
- Trust the process. The decision to live a healthier lifestyle will always give you a return on your investment. Even if you aren’t seeing progress as quickly as you’d hoped, trust the process and know you are making strides in improving your health. Rome wasn’t built in a day, just like we did not become obese overnight. Our habits take time to change, and you’re on the right track!
Obesity is a complex issue influenced by various factors like genetics, environment, and socioeconomic conditions. But no matter where you are on the obesity spectrum, you have the power to make positive changes and improve your health. Understanding the facts and dangers of obesity is an important first step. By taking small, consistent steps, you can make a big impact on your well-being. Focus on your mindset, believe in yourself, and commit to manageable changes. Take a holistic approach to your health, prioritize self-care, and celebrate small victories. With patience and determination, you can embark on a journey toward a healthier, happier you. Start today and trust the process, knowing that every small change adds up to great results.