Obesity has become one of the leading health concerns across the globe today with the US leading from the front. According to a report revealed by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 30.4 percent of American adults were victims of obesity according to their BMIs. That’s 19.4 percent up from 1997 when the CDC began tracking obesity.
Another recent Harvard University analysis revealed that approximately 38 percent of American adults aged 20 or more are obese and over 17 percent of children aged between 6 and 11 are victims of obesity as well. It seems that despite the latest push to get Americans stick to a regular exercising schedule and improve diet habits, US obesity rates haven’t shifted much over the last few years.
However, that doesn’t essentially mean that public health programs working on advocating more physical activities and healthier diets aren’t working or the individual efforts to lose weights are in vain. According to researchers, the continued efforts would not only educate but make it easier for US people to eat healthily – all of which would contribute to bringing a decline in the overall US obesity curve.
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- Why are people obese?
On a very fundamental level, your weight depends on a number of calories you consume, the quantity you store and the calories you burn up. But a combination of environment and genes influence each of these factors that can affect your behavior (your food choices) and your physiology (how soon you burn the calories up).
If you consume the high volume of energy, especially sugars and fat and fail to burn off that energy through adequate physical activity and exercise, much of that excess energy gets stored by your body as fat and you start gaining weight. Overeating, lack of exercise and drinking are widely considered as the main culprits for obesity. The key reasons behind these are:
- Continual availability of food
- Eating at inappropriate times
- Wrong eating choices
- Insufficient consumption of healthy foods as they’re expensive
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Laziness to exercise after work
- Being housebound, and
- Excessive use of cars instead of walking, amongst others
- Health risks of being obese
Obesity doesn’t happen overnight but when it occurs, it causes a multitude of detrimental effects on your health. Obesity means your body weight is at least 20 percent higher than what your normal weight should be according to your height. This may triggers conditions like:
- Diabetes: Obesity is a key reason of type 2 diabetes. Though it usually starts in adulthood but now, it’s actually happening in children as well.
- High blood pressure: Excess fat tissue in our body requires nutrients and oxygen to perform at its optimum level. This increases the work pressure of the heart, which in turn creates more pressure on the artery walls. This elevates the blood pressure.
- Heart disease: Fatty deposits developed in the arteries can lead to coronary artery disease. Reduced blood circulation to the heart together with narrowed arteries can trigger chest pain or heart attack.
- Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea causes when people stop breathing for short periods. Interrupted sleep triggers heaving snoring and sleepiness throughout the day.
- Respiratory problems: When the additional weight of our chest wall squeezes our lungs, it causes respiratory problems.
- Joint problems: Obesity can cause problems of the knees and hips because of the additional stress put on the joints by excess weight.
- Cancer: In women, obesity contributes to an enhances the risk of different kinds of cancers including colon, breast, uterus, and gallbladder while obese men are at a higher risk of developing prostate and colon cancers.
- Metabolic syndrome: Metabolic syndrome comprises of six key elements namely elevated blood pressure, elevated blood cholesterol, abdominal obesity, insulin resistance with or without any glucose intolerance, elevation of specific clotting factors in the blood and elevation of specific blood components that trigger inflammation. In the US, about one-third of obese people demonstrate metabolic syndrome.
How can you lose weight?
- Hit the gym
There was a time when hitting the gym was only meant for people with serious intention to develop muscle and strength but today, this concept has transformed completely as people have started realizing that unhealthy diets, sedentary lifestyle, ill health and inadequate fitness can lead to several health hazards, including obesity. There are many benefits of going to the gym on a daily basis.
According to CDC, every adult should get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise each week. Regular exercise brings in multitude of physical as well as mental health benefits. The key ones are:
- Weight control: Hitting the gym every day would help you maintain your weight. If you’re overweight, losing an average amount of weight (say, 10 percent of the body weight) may help you to stay away from developing serious conditions.
- Get healthy: Regular gymming encourages you to follow a balanced regimen that includes both strength and aerobic training. These advocate heart health, improve muscle strength, flexibility, and balance, and help prevent osteoporosis.
- Get stress relief: Physical activity triggers the production of endorphins in the brain, which would make you feel better – both physically and emotionally.
- Get motivated: If you’re serious about getting in better shape and losing weight, joining a gym is perhaps your best option. While exercising in a group, you’re most likely to find at least someone who has similar goals and each of you can encourage the other, especially when boredom threatens to set in or the motivation tends to fade away.
- Check the variety: One of the key advantages of a professional gym over your home gym is the huge range of machines, weights and exercise classes, amongst others. This provides you with the opportunity of trying new equipment’s and modifying your routine after a certain period that keeps boredom away.
- Learn from the professionals: Most of the today’s gyms employ professional trainers who’re adept in designing exercise programs in accordance with your individual requirements.
- Other health benefits: Regular exercising may reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome, diabetes and some types of cancers.
However, it’s always advisable to consult with your doctor first before starting any new exercise regimen.
- Focus on your diet
When your goal is to shed weight, you should watch your consumption of carbs and protein. Instead of following a certain macro split and counting your calorie intake, you just need to pair your carbs intake with protein or fat.
This will help you avert sudden spikes or lowering of your blood sugar as well as insulin levels by keeping them more consistent. This in turn would make you feel fuller, thus helping you cut calories effortlessly. With today’s hectic lifestyle, we often forget to eat properly and end up filling our body with different kinds of unhealthy foods, which is one of the basic reasons for which a significant percentage of Americans are obese today.
Whether you’re hitting a gym or not, consuming healthy, natural foods and staying away from processed food as much as possible, is a definite way to shed extra weight. First, eating breakfast regularly plays a crucial role in your weight loss endeavor. According to studies, regular consumption of a high fiber, high protein breakfast can let you stay satisfied longer and lower hunger cravings throughout the day. Here’s a list of some key food variations that you can try to attain your goal.
- Moderate your intake of high-calorie foods
- Eat 5 or 6 small meals instead of 3 big meals
- Try to consume a majority of your daily calories before noon
- Only eat when you feel hungry, don’t go by time
- Consume fruits rather than fruit juice
- Include lots of vegetables in your diet
- Stay away from white foods like sugar, white breads and white flour, amongst others
- Go cycling
Cycling has been one of the popular choices amongst health enthusiasts for many years. It isn’t only the easiest form of working out but also provides a multitude amount of benefits. By incorporating cycling into your daily life, you can perform a moderate level of physical activity without any extra effort.
It’s an amazing way to burn calories. BMX cycles in particular are becoming all the rage now. In general, someone cycling at a speed of 10 mph can burn 260 calories in an hour. Apart from helping in weight loss, some other key health benefits of cycling are:
- Toned and strengthened muscles
- Helps to control diabetes
- Improved cardiovascular function
- Stress management
- Increased energy levels
- Reduced cancer risk
- Pain reduction
- Arthritis treatment
- Improved mental well-being
- As cycling helps you burn a significant amount of calories, you can have a second breakfast when you reach your destination
- Improved navigational skills
- Improved quality of sleep
- A boost to the brain power
- Strengthened immune system
- Increased metabolic rate
Some other benefits of cycling include
- Become better at any sport
- Make creative breakthroughs
- Avoid pollution
- Lower your carbon footprint
- Develop your social circle
- Improved handling and special awareness (about your body weight when descending, ascending, or cornering)
However, some precautions need to be taken when you take up cycling as a regular mode of transport or sport. These include wearing a helmet and well-fitted clothes, amongst others.
- Drink lots of water
Thirst and appetite are controlled by the same part of our brain, sometimes making us think we’re hungry when we actually just need a glass of water. You can beat this confusion by having a glass of water 15 to 20 minutes prior to eating to see if the hunger vanishes.
Drinking water is the simplest way to keep your body in the weight shedding mode. It increases your metabolism and that helps you shed weight even when you sleep. Drink a significant amount of water during the day, particularly in the evening, to increase your metabolism during sleep. One thing that you need to keep in mind is that consumption of sugary or calorie-filled beverages plays a crucial role in weight gain. To attain your weight loss goal, you must stay away from sweetened drinks and consume sugar-free, clear, hydrating fluids instead.
According to a study shared by Time, it was revealed that water not only eliminates the craving for unnecessary snacking but drinking 16 ounces of water prior to every meal can aid in weight loss to a good extent as well. Water fills the stomach, thus making you feel fuller quickly. Ideally, you should always keep a bottle of water to respond to thirst in a timely manner.
- Skip elevators, use stairs instead
To shed excess weight, you need to have a proper calorie deficit program in place. It means you need to consume lesser amount of calories and burn more of them. Taking stairs instead of elevators is one of the simplest yet beneficial ways to burn calories.
Did you know that you can shed approximately 10 pounds a year by spending only 10 minutes per day walking up and down the stairs? So, if you’re overweight and fond of elevators, opt for the stairs right now. You can try variations such as taking two stairs at one time and then one stair for the next. You can also switch directions on your next flight by following a zigzag route.
If you don’t have adequate time or just don’t enjoy regular physical activity, you should try to increase your daily amount of steps. Simply put, the more you move each day, the more you’ll burn calories. You’ve to try to find as many ways as you can. For instance, when going to work, park your vehicle at a longer distance away from your office and walk. These small changes can greatly influence in losing weight. You just need to make sure that you’re not sitting idle for a prolonged time.
- Skip TV
This is especially applicable for those who love watching TV shows for significant hours by being a couch potato. TV viewing time is closely connected with weight gain, and increased risk of weight-related diseases, amongst others.
In addition, an Australian study revealed that every single hour of watching television after the age of 25 lowers the life expectancy of the viewer by 22 minutes. Many of us can’t actually watch a TV show without raiding out snacks cupboard.
For this reason, you should reduce your TV viewing time as it eliminates at least one reason of weight gain. You can try to find some other healthy ways such as swimming or walking to replace the TV shows. If you’re still not convinced, here are some key ways watching TV shows for prolonged time contribute towards weight gain:
- It pushes you toward a sedentary lifestyle
- It frees up the hands for snacking
- It’s a complete food pusher
- It makes you develop wrong snacking habits
- It interrupts sleep
- It distracts you during your snack time
- It’s a hazard during family mealtime
Finally, it’s immensely crucial to stay motivated if you want to lose weight. Set a goal and then work rigorously toward attaining it and soon, you’ll start experiencing the results.