Today, about 7 out of 10 American adults are overweight or obese, which is defined as having a body mass index 25 to <30 (overweight) or 30+ (obese). Weight problems are one of the most severe health conditions in the U.S. Complications include sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and fatty liver disease. Battling obesity can be a lifelong struggle, but here are some wellness-focused actions to help shed pounds and cultivate a healthy lifestyle.
If you’re obese, you’re not alone: 36.5% of American adults are obese. Much of that has to do with societal factors, like diet. (Fast food comprises 11% of our total caloric intake.) Inactivity also plays a role; we usually sit at our jobs all day, and many of our cities are structured around transportation by cars rather than walking. On top of that, Americans are notorious for consuming oversized portions.
Make sure you’re eating meals comprised of lean protein, fruit, whole grains, and especially vegetables, which should take up half of your plate. Healthy fats, such as nuts and avocados, decrease the likelihood of coronary artery disease. Avoid saturated fats, like those found in processed frozen food, whole-fat dairy, and fried chicken, which have the opposite effect on your body.
For anyone serious about shedding pounds, remember that sugar is your enemy. Big Sugar, the conglomerates that sell soda and sports drinks, have come under fire recently. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate the brain’s pleasure-response center, floods the brain when you consume sugar, similar to how your body processes alcohol and nicotine. Sugar rots your teeth, attacks your liver, pumps you full of empty calories, and spikes your insulin levels, which may even contribute to cancer. In short: Just say no to sugar.
If you’re diabetic or at risk of diabetes, it’s even more critical that you be mindful of your sugar intake and your overall diet. If you’re eligible for Medicare and need help learning how to manage your diet, the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) can help. This program offers group classes that discuss weight-control and diet strategies, goal setting, and perhaps most importantly, peer support to help you put yourself on a healthy track.
Enjoy Your Workout
Exercise is one of the cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, many people give up on their fitness goals too soon, often because they’re not having fun. One surefire way to keep up with your routine is to do what you love. Rock climbing, swimming, biking—whatever enlivens and rejuvenates you, keep doing it. If you’re falling short of your goals because your schedule has gotten too hectic, convert part of a spare room into a home gym. The perks of doing so include saving on gym membership costs, cutting out daily transit to and from a gym, and buying only the equipment that you want to use (and getting to use it whenever you want). Plus, you can get a Swiss ball, resistance bands, and a set of kettlebells for about $100.
While exercise trims you down, getting a good night’s rest helps you stave off extra weight, too. Sleep deprivation encourages you to eat more (since you’re awake longer), saps your energy during the day when you could be working out, and disrupts your metabolism levels, fooling your body into craving more food. Sleep repairs and soothes almost every system in your body. One of the surest ways to alleviate pain, lower blood pressure, and regulate your weight is a good night’s rest.
Obesity is one of the gravest health concerns in the United States. Years of counseling, nutritional education, and physical therapy are sometimes necessary to understand the condition. Even then, your weight-loss results may vary. However, a combination of eating well, getting enough rest, and exercising regularly should whittle your waistline and pack years onto your life.
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