Over 65% of adults 20 years or older can be classified as obese. Additionally, 17% of adolescents of ages 12-19 years are overweight and 19% of children age 6-11 years. Obesity is and will continue to be a serious problem in the future. In fact, it is predicted that obesity will reach epidemic levels by the year 2020.
While everyone understands that being overweight, or obese, is "not good for you", many people do not understand the risks they and their loved ones face if they fall into this category.
Obese or overweight people are at increased risk for some or all of the following conditions:
1. Various forms of heart disease
6. Respiratory problems
7. Psychological disorders
6. High blood pressure or hypertension
It is estimated that 300,000 deaths in the U. S. each year are associated with obesity, and the economic cost of obesity in the United States was about $117 billion in 2000. Economic costs include the out-of-pocket expenditures of the individuals involved, the costs of the institutions and organizations which help provide services, and the costs born by every member of society whether they are in this group or not.
A healthy weight loss program could do much to help individuals avoid the personal and financial risks associated with being overweight while helping them achieve longer, happier, more productive lives more years of healthy enjoyment once they leave the work place behind them.
Unfortunately these days, one is more likely to hear of a "fast" weight loss program than a healthy weight loss program, and it is next to impossible to include both terms in the same sentence. The fast weight loss programs which are so prevalent are short term, temporary "fixes" when they fix anything at all. These programs, which commonly involve drinks, supplements, pills, or exotic exercise equipment, simply do not work, at least not for permanent, healthy weight loss.
Worse, many of these fast weight loss programs may actually contribute to further weight gain, decreased enjoyment of life, diminished health, and, in extreme cases, even death.
Fortunately, there are healthy weight loss programs, plans, systems, and options which can provide, or contribute not only to healthy weight loss, but a lifetime of healthy weight management.
While a full program would take a book to explain all the possible actions you can take for healthy weight loss, here are a few tips that can help anyone get started on a lifelong program for health and fitness.
Here are some tips on how you can lose those unwanted pounds the healthy way:
1. Start moving. One of the most effective weight loss strategies around is exercise. Sadly, many people have no idea how much or which exercise they should do. Many do not even realize that simple, enjoyable activities such as gardening, swimming, or playing tag with the kids can be part of an exercise program. Exercise is such a diverse topic that anyone serious about losing weight should do a little research on the types of activities that may possibly be a part of their weight loss program.
2. Eat smart. There is a lot you can do to improve what and how you eat, but some of it takes training and knowledge most people do not have. It also involves all sorts of convoluted decision making, sometimes based on charts and lists, good carbs, bad carbs, high glycemic index foods and low glycemic index foods. If you are able to learn all that great, but just use come common sense in the meantime. Eat lots of veggies and fruits, have some protein, but not a ton, and stay away from stuff with sugar. Teach yourself to use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar, and start looking at labels.
3. Eat small. Eat small, healthy meals and snacks several times a day. One failure mechanism built in to a diet is the denial of food. It is not just the denial of pleasure of food and eating, but your body also reacts one way when food is denied, and another when it is regularly supplied daily with small healthy meals and snacks.
4. Team up. Get together with a friend who has much the same goals as you. Take a walk with them every day. Meet them for lunch. They won't make faces when you order something for your health rather than for the fun of it. In fact, why not get a group together? That way, if one person is not available, maybe someone else will be. Plus the social interaction is good for you. People who "go on diets" tend to start avoiding people, and that often is at least a part of the reason they fall off the diet wagon.
5. Think health. Don't try to lose weight. Instead, try to get healthy. First of all, a positive goal is easier to work towards than a negative one. Second, doing things to make yourself healthy is easier to sell to yourself and to others than "trying to lose weight". Also, there will be setbacks along the way. These are normal. If you fail to lose weight as fast as you think you ought to, or if you gain weight, in your mind you will have "failed". If however you eat a second piece of pie, you have slowed down on your path to health, but you can get back on track within minutes simply by going for a walk or remembering to use sweetener in your drink rather than sugar.
6. Get rest. When your body is tired, certain chemical changes take place and substances are released that contribute to weight gain or slow weight loss. It is easier to get involved in activity when you are rested.
7. Have fun. Two of the reasons you want to lose weight is so that you can feel good, and feel good about yourself. You want to enjoy life. It works both ways. If you lose weight and feel healthy, you will want to enjoy life, and you will feel good about yourself. If you go out of your way to enjoy life, you will probably be more active, and this, combined with other beneficial effects related to weight gain and weight loss will help your healthy weight loss program.
8. Drink water. Many times we interpret the body's signals as hunger when they are actually thirst. Often, a glass of water will satisfy what we believe are hunger pangs. Keeping the body properly hydrated helps it process toxins and perform a myriad of functions more efficiently.
9. Don't quit. When you are on a healthy weight loss program, your weight loss will be slow. Many people are disheartened when they think of only losing one or two pounds a week on average. However, that would be a weight loss of 52 to 104 pounds in a year and 104 to 208 pounds in two years! To put that in proportion, I had a friend who had a gastric bypass. She was told that even with surgery, she would probably only lose about 75 pounds in her first year, and the weight loss would slow down in the second year! Many people could accomplish similar results just by building up to a daily 20 to 30 minute walk and by cutting a few empty calories out of their diet.
By the way, if you have not been exercising and begin exercising as part of a healthy weight loss program, it is highly likely that you will actually GAIN weight at first. Don't let this dishearten you. It is entirely normal and can actually be considered part of the body's preparation to lose weight and live a healthier life!
Be happy with your results. If you are living in a healthy manner, you will lose weight. Certainly, how much weight you lose will depend on a lot of factors, and, if you are walking 20 minutes a day and haven't lost what you would like to lose, you can walk 30 minutes a day, or 15 minutes twice a day. Adapt and move on. However, do not expect to be the man or woman you were in high school or college. You might never fit into your old prom dress or army uniform again. I don't, and I exercise regularly and try to eat right. I feel great and am in excellent health, but my old army uniform is just a memory hanging in my closet now.
Go on. Have some fun. Do what you can. Reward yourself for your gains and forgive yourself for non-gains. I refuse to call them failures. There is no failure until you give up completely.