An estimated 160 million Americans are either obese or overweight, with nearly three-quarters of men carrying extra pounds and more than 60 percent of women meeting the criteria to be classified as overweight or obese.
If you count yourself among that majority of adults, odds are you’d like to lose some weight and reduce your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other health conditions that often come with carrying extra pounds. Although it will take work, the good news is that healthcare professionals can help you handle the mental, emotional, and physical hurdles you might face, and there are several lifestyle changes you can make on your own.
Dealing with Diet
Trying to trim down starts with consuming fewer calories than you burn. But a growing body of research shows that not all calories are created equal. For instance, studies have shown higher consumption of unhealthy trans and saturated fats can translate to weight gain, but increased intake of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats does not.
Along those lines, research also indicates a diet packed with healthy proteins is more effective than a low-fat diet for people trying to lose weight. And high-quality whole-grain carbohydrates can also help keep weight in check. Menus packed with protein like nuts, beans, fish, or poultry, as well as plenty of vegetables and whole grains, can also help protect against health conditions including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Cutting calories will produce even better results if you also increase your activity level. But starting and sticking with an exercise program can be difficult, especially if you’re carrying some extra pounds. But working out at home can be a great way to get into the groove. It’s also a cost-conscious way to get in shape because you can save on a gym membership. Consider adding a weight bench, rowing machine, or stationary bicycle. At our gym, Freedom in Motion, we use a combination of strength and mobility excercises to help tackle weight loss. Our goal is to first build the athlete so that the athlete can then develop their skills in our parkour sessions once their bodies are ready for the new skills and exercises.
A set of dumbbells can be used for several strength-training exercises such as bicep curls, shoulder presses, and weighted squats and lunges. Resistance bands serve many of the same purposes and are even easy to pack for travel. And those who are ready to take their sweat sessions to the next level might consider adding kettlebells to the mix and checking out online workouts that offer more choices. Quadrupedal movement (QM) is also a great low impact exercise that takes on a variety of muscle groups. QM is essentially crawling on all 4’s in a variety of directions. It can become quite the challenge over even a short distance. We use this movement often in our parkour sessions and can easily be done at home.
Getting enough sleep is also an important element of your exercise routine. Not only will a good night’s sleep give you more energy to exercise, some studies show getting too little shut-eye can contribute directly to weight gain, perhaps by giving people more time to eat and throwing hunger-control hormones out of whack.
Maintaining Mental Health
Being overweight or obese is rarely caused by a single factor, and research shows mental health may also play a significant role in some people’s battle with excess pounds. For instance, one study of randomly selected people receiving psychiatric care on an outpatient basis in Maryland found that their body mass index (BMI) was almost double that of the comparison group, according to an article in Psychiatry Advisor.
And, although not everyone who is overweight or obese has a mental health issue, conditions including depression, attention deficit disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder can lead to emotional eating and weight gain. Obesity can also trigger and influence your mood since putting on pounds often leads to lower self-esteem and physical activity levels. That’s one reason experts recommend a reasonably paced approach to weight loss that addresses your lifestyle holistically, according to the American Psychological Association. This might mean enlisting a mental health professional to help identify and address attitudes and emotions that could be contributing to your eating and exercise habits.
An effective arsenal to battle obesity should include a healthy diet, a regular exercise program, sound sleep habits, and a healthcare team that helps you address body, mind, and soul. See our other article on self-care for more info.
If you live near one of our Freedom in motion gym locations, give us a call and schedule yourself a one-on-one evaluation today. We’re here to help you regain your health and learn some new movement skills along the way!