Obesity is one of the major health concerns in the United States. Currently, the world population is 7.5 billion, and about 10 percent are obese – and about 10 percent of people in that category live in the US. In other words, 73 million Americans are obese, which is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. So if you’re one of the 160 million Americans struggling with your weight, here are some tips on fighting obesity through wellness-focused actions.
Eating a Balanced Diet
Eating Between 2001-2009, the percentage of Americans who were physically active increased – but so did the percentage of people who were obese. The lesson may be that exercise alone doesn’t stave off weight gain. So if you want to slim down, prioritize eating right. Think of it this way: 30 minutes of intense exercise can torch 350 calories. But simply cutting two 16-ounce sodas out of your diet each day can achieve the same caloric deficit. Now, let’s re-examine the word “diet.” Starving yourself on saltines and soda water will only deplete your energy. Instead, try to avoid sugar and opt for low-carb veggies (kale, spinach, lettuce), lean protein (salmon, chicken, beans) and healthy fats (avocado, olive oil).
Enjoyable Workout Routine
That said, don’t neglect exercise. A regular fitness regimen has been shown to give you energy, boost your mood, sharpen your memory, and strengthen your muscles and bones. The specific exercises that you do don’t matter so much as that you enjoy the exercise; that way, you’ll be excited about doing them again and again. Also, remember to track your progress. Personal trainers often tell clients to keep an eye on the scale but not to worry all that much about it. Scales often measure muscle mass, bone density, or water weight, but we’ve been trained to think of the number that blinks back at us as simply a calibration of our fat tissue.
Instead, consider ditching the scale. Instead of the scale, check how your clothes fit, exercise with a heart rate monitor, or see how easy it is for you to sit up from a cross-legged position. Logging these measurements will help you note whether your strength and endurance are increasing, your mobility is improving, or if your stress is easing away.
Getting Enough Rest
Another technique to monitor your progress without a scale is tracking whether your sleep improves. Regular quality sleep is one of the cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle. Clinicians recommend that adults sleep for 7-9 hours per night. Sleep makes your skin glow, sharpens your memory, helps you retain information, and regulates your weight. Getting enough sleep has also been shown to stave off anxiety, depression, and mood disorders that have been linked to obesity.
Addressing Mental Disorders
Researchers have found such strong links between obesity and mental illness that they have termed the two conditions “a double epidemic.” Studies have shown that people with mental illnesses are at a higher risk of becoming obese, and people with obesity are much more likely to develop mental illnesses. Gaining weight often saps your energy and takes a toll on your self-esteem. Conversely, someone who’s anxious may “stress-eat,” and people who suffer from depression can make poor dietary choices because so much else weighs on their minds.
If you have a mental disorder, seek counseling and talk to an expert about developing some of the wellness-focused actions above. You may not see results overnight, but integrating these habits into your routine should help you trim your waistline and improve your outlook.
Photo credit: Ana Azevedo