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5 Ways To Beat Obesity and Curb Weight Gain Before It Starts

Written by S.O.

Posted on January 27, 2015 at 8:36 pm

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Obesity is one of the largest health concerns facing Americans today. Not only is unhealthy weight a contributing factor to heart disease and type 2 diabetes (as many of us are aware), its also plays a role in many other health concerns, from hypertension and breathing problems to liver disease and osteoarthritis.

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But even beyond these specific issues, obesity is also a source of discomfort, anxiety, and general difficulty for many, many people. It goes without saying that it’s an epidemic that needs addressing, but for the vast majority of people suffering from obesity, the solutions must come from individual changes in habit.

Obesity is defined as excess body fat, and is often measured by body mass index (BMI). Adults with BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 are considered normal, adults between 25.0 and 29.9 are considered overweight, and adults with a BMI over 30 are considered obese. (Source: CDC)

The CDC also notes that, “Although BMI correlates with the amount of body fat, BMI does not directly measure body fat. As a result, some people, such as athletes, may have a BMI that identifies them as overweight even though they do not have excess body fat.”

Regardless of the specific definitions, though, the associated problems present very real health risks. So, what can people do on an individual level to fight obesity?

The Mayo Clinic describes a basic, 5-step plan that functions for both weight loss and preventing weight gain:

• Exercise Regularly – Moderate intensity physical activity is a key component of shedding excess weight and keeping it off. Experts estimate that 150 to 300 minutes of activity per week will help stave off weight gain. These “moderate intensity activities” include fast walking, swimming, casual cycling, etc.

• Eat Healthy Meals and Snacks – Exercise must be combined with diet to be truly effective. Low-calorie, high-nutrient foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are important dietary components, as is the avoidance of excess saturated fats, sweets, and alcohol. This doesn’t mean that unhealthy foods are completely off limits – just that focusing on healthy foods as most of your diet is an important piece of the weight loss process.

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• Know and Avoid Food Traps – We all have different triggers that can spur unhealthy behaviors, and for people who struggle with obesity, some of those unhealthy behaviors are likely related to food. By identifying your own triggers, paying attention to when you eat, how much you eat, and your feelings in those moments, you can begin to recognize patterns and stay in control of food decisions.

• Monitor Your Weight – Weighing yourself on a regular basis (like once per week) helps keep weight management at the front of your mind. This ongoing “review” of your weight will let you know if your efforts are working, and if they are, help keep you on track toward your goals as you see your progress each time!

• Be Consistent – Whether it’s diet, exercise, avoiding unhealthy foods, or any other tactic you’ve employed to help lose weight and hold off unwanted weight gain, it’s absolutely critical that you remain consistent in your efforts. A treat from time to time is ok, or taking the occasional day off – but you can’t let yourself lapse too far out of your routines, even during weekends, vacations, holidays, etc. Consistency over time is vitally important.

Let’s focus on this idea of consistency for a moment. Weight loss and developing healthier habits isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight – or even in a single week or month. You begin to see results pretty directly, but for the change to really stick, it takes more time – health has to become a lifestyle.

According to the CDC, people who achieve gradual, steady weight loss (1 to 2 pounds per week) are more likely to keep that weight off. In fact, they recommend looking at weight loss as journey, instead of a destination. While setting goals for weight loss is important, building healthy habits is far more beneficial than worrying about specific numbers. The point is to be healthy, not achieve a specific weight.

One of the best ways to remain consistent is to develop a support system, and some of the most effective support you can find will come in the form of a friend with similar goals! Having “workout buddy” creates a relationship of mutual support and dependence. They can help get you through your worst days, and you can do the same for them. You’ll have someone to talk to about your goals, and some to congratulate you when you achieve them. You become accountable to one another – and that makes you less likely to take a day off, to make excuses, or fall back into your old patterns.

Developing healthy habits is important for all people, especially as they age. Muscle mass decreases with age, and fat increases proportionally – which, in turn, shifts and slows metabolism, making it easier to gain weight as you get older. This can be compounded as some people drastically reduce physical activity in their older age. Developing good habits now, regardless of age, will only help in the long run.

Making a concerted effort to curb weight gain, develop healthy diet and exercise habits, and work toward a healthier version of yourself has almost limitless positive outcomes. Improving your health (and body image) has a positive impact on self-confidence, stamina, sleep quality, aches and pains, sex drive, and so many other areas.

As a very first step, set a goal for the rest of today. If managing weight and combatting obesity is important to you, you can start right now. It doesn’t have to be tomorrow or next week. Get up and go for a walk right now. Make health conscious food decisions today – at your next meal.

Long-term goals are surely important, but getting yourself on the path to achieving those goals can sometimes be the largest challenge. To truly make a difference, weight and health have to be at the very front of your thoughts. The decisions you make throughout the day should be done with your immediate goals in mind. Park farther away from the building when you go to work, spend part of your lunch break walking or engaging in other light exercise, cut soda and other sugary beverages out of your diet immediately…

You can make many small changes starting right now!

As you begin down the path of a healthier lifestyle, the other steps will unfold as they need to, such as increased exercise intensity, more dietary changes, finding new activities to engage in, and gradually breaking unhealthy habits one by one. To get started though, you just have to commit to change and take the first action.

If you build a giant plan before you ever embark on the journey, you can paralyze yourself with too many things to accomplish and too many goals that feel unattainable. When you look at the distance between A and Z, it can be tough to even start – instead, focus on getting from A to B. Make one healthy change today. Then another, and then another…

You can beat obesity, but it has to start right now – and you have to stick with it for the long haul.

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