Most people in developed nations have countless food options, and it can feel impossible to make healthy choices. However, the choices we make bring us closer to health or take us further away from it.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the nutritional choices you’re faced with, try embracing them. More choices mean more possibilities and within those choices lies the power to opt-out of the obesity epidemic.
Your road to a healthy weight includes motivation, confidence and a solid nutrition and fitness plan.
Most people still need some guidance in their weight loss journey, so here are some ways to take control of your health today.
World hunger is a serious problem in many nations around the world. However, obesity is also on the rise. Both have negative health consequences making them grave concerns. Although adopting a healthier lifestyle isn’t easy, it is something most people can take steps to achieve.
Obesity is a complex condition, one with serious social and psychological dimensions, that affects virtually all age and socioeconomic groups and threatens to overwhelm both developed and developing countries. In 1995, there were an estimated 200 million obese adults worldwide and another 18 million under-five children classified as overweight. As of 2000, the number of obese adults has increased to over 300 million. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the obesity epidemic is not restricted to industrialized societies; in developing countries, it is estimated that over 115 million people suffer from obesity-related problems. – World Health Organization
WHO lists a lack of sound nutrition, a lack of physical activity, and unique problems the elderly face as contributing factors to the rise in obesity around the world. Each of these factors can stand alone, but in tragic situations, they compound to create real obstacles to health.
Approaching each on its own keeps goals feeling manageable. If you’re thinking that it’s time to get healthier but looking for some motivation to get started, the following facts and figures may galvanize you into action.
The Exercise Component
A 2014 study by Stanford University analyzing health survey results reported that a lack of adequate physical activity is a greater obesity cause than increased calorie intake. This serves as a reminder that ‘dieting’ isn’t the only way to shed pounds that put us at risk.
Simply working physical activity into our daily lives plays a large part in the solution.
Harvard University breaks down the sedentary lifestyle into two main facets: physical activity being any activity that involves moving the body and burning calories and exercise which is “planned, structured, and repetitive- activities aimed at improving physical fitness and health.”
Therefore, exercise is a subset of physical activity and increasing both types of motion are important in a healthy lifestyle.
The other part of the obesity equation is calorie intake. While it’s vital to see food as fuel and not fear any particular type of food, it’s also true that some choices are smarter than others.
If you are at a healthy weight, you can focus on maintenance rather than intense calorie counting. If you want to lose weight, however, you’ll have to keep your calorie intake under the number of calories you burn.
There are a number of calorie counters available online, but consulting a professional is best. This is the safest way to meet your nutritional needs while eliminating dangerous excess calories from your meals.
Obesity in the United States is a problem the CDC calls “common” and “costly,” reporting that prevalence was nearly 40% in 2015-2016. The organization estimates that it affected approximately 93 million adults during that one-year period. The CDC further shows an annual related health cost of $147 billion in 2008.
These figures are startling but what really hits home for people craving a healthier lifestyle is experiencing health risks caused by excess weight.
Connecting with the Consequences: Obesity Health Risks
Anyone at an unhealthy weight knows that it can be distressing. You may relate to suddenly struggling to put on your shoes and socks or experiencing a decreased range of motion. Your self-esteem and outlook on life can suffer as a result. These are not the most serious problems obesity brings, however.
The World Health Organization lists a lack of physical activity and an unhealthy diet as two main contributors to what they describe as noncommunicable diseases. Noncommunicable diseases include heart and lung disease, diabetes and cancer. These conditions together kill more people annually than other serious health problems the WHO monitors.
According to their figures, 38 million people die each year from these conditions. Of those fatalities, 16 million affected people under 70 years old.
Some of these deaths were unrelated to weight. However, living a healthy and active lifestyle fueled by proper nutrition will only act as an insurance policy to anyone who wants to live to a ripe old age.
Obesity increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, fatty liver disease, kidney disease, and fertility problems as well.
Obesity and Diabetes
Obesity can contribute to type 2 diabetes, the form of diabetes people experience as adults. Type 1 diabetes can affect adults as well, but it generally presents in childhood whereas type 2 can appear to develop suddenly.
In fact, nearly 90% of adults with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. The actual link between the two is still unknown, but medical professionals suspect chronic obesity causes cell structures to change. These altered cells may be insulin resistant, which leads to a decreased cellular ability to absorb sugar from the blood.
Elevated blood sugar levels are the primary symptom of type 2 diabetes but that condition causes a number of serious health problems in turn. For instance, high blood sugar is linked to heart and kidney disease, stroke, neuropathy and even loss of sight. It was the seventh leading cause of death in America in 2009.
Obesity and Cancer
The National Cancer Institute elaborates on the link between obesity and cancer on their website. The organization is clear that obesity and cancer often coexist with a variety of other risk factors. Because of this, they do not definitively say that obesity causes cancer. They do have some concerning figures to share, however.
Women who are obese are two to five times more likely to contract endometrial cancer and the risk rises with more weight gain in adult women. Weight gain affects esophageal adenocarcinoma as well, making obese people twice as likely to develop the disease. The same figures apply to gastric cardia cancer.
The ‘twice as likely’ statistic carries through for liver cancer as well, and kidney cancer (renal cell) falls just under this double risk. Heart disease also increases the risk of renal cell cancer, making many obese people subject to even more serious risk.
Obesity increases the risk of pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, gallbladder cancer, and breast cancer for post-menopausal women.
Obesity and Heart Disease
The Cleveland Clinic published its concern about obesity, overweight, and heart disease on their website as well:
Obesity and overweight are linked to several factors that increase one’s risk for cardiovascular disease (coronary artery disease and stroke):
- High blood lipids, especially high triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Impaired glucose tolerance or type-2 (also called adult-onset) diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Obesity and overweight are also linked to hypertension and an enlarged left ventricle (left ventricular hypertrophy), increasing risk for heart failure.
As we age, we often gain weight and naturally face an increased risk of many of the above-referenced conditions. This is simply one reason it’s never too late to adopt healthier habits.
Making changes is difficult, but there are resources and people who can help. The first step is choosing your health as a priority. Next, seek out tools that will help you achieve your goals.
Wellness Tools to Lose Weight Naturally
The attitude you adopt at the start of your weight loss journey is crucial. Be kind to yourself, practice positive self-talk, and remember that even small changes bring you closer to health.
Do what you can to stay motivated, as motivation is what pushes you onward from small goals to larger ones. Using this type of graduated goal setting is an excellent way to keep motivation high. Joining a group or participating in a health challenge with friends can also provide the positive energy you need to keep striving. Many people look to a wellness coach to help them.
Identify Your Pain Points
Your wellness coach might give you a wellness evaluation to identify your personalized wellness plan. Herbalife Nutrition, a global nutrition company, has independent distributors who offer the company’s nutrition products and who use company materials to offer this type of evaluation to their customers at no charge. The evaluation identifies each customer’s unique wellness goals and allows the distributor to tailor a plan just for you.
Nutritionists, dietitians, as well as fitness coaches and personal trainers oftentimes offer evaluations as well. This may happen during your client intake or as you tell your personal story to your wellness professional.
Picture Your Goals
Use mental rehearsing to picture yourself at your goal weight. Imagine how it will feel to shop with confidence. Isn’t it satisfying to know your family will enjoy you for years to come?
Making a vision board is another way to mentally rehearse. The added bonus of a vision board is that it is a physical reminder that you can see. Each time you look at it, you’re refocusing on your goals.
You can also incorporate meditation and mindfulness into your health journey. This will help you stay focused and, combined with practices like yoga, can tone body and mind simultaneously.
Mindfulness can decrease stress, which is a common cause of succumbing to cravings or binge eating. You can practice some techniques on your own, but social support has been shown to have a positive impact on achieving one’s wellness goals. Nutrition clubs, which are small businesses owned by Herbalife Nutrition distributors, serve as a gathering place for like minded people who are interested in improving their lives through good nutrition and exercise.
In addition to all of these tools, you’ll need to establish proper meal planning, nail your supplemental nutrition, and make an exercise regime you can stick to.
Meal planning can be deceptively simple, but that depends more on where you live than you might think. For many American towns and communities, ‘food swamps’ – a concentration of fast and unhealthy foods — are abundant.
If you live in an area where healthy food options are limited, seek out fruit and vegetables. Another option is protein bars and shakes. These things take some forethought, so be sure you don’t get caught out without the supplies you need. That’s when poor choices can creep in. Whole foods, lean proteins, and abundant fruit and vegetable options are always staples in a meal plan, but healthy convenience foods can sometimes stand between falling off track and achieving your goals.
Luckily, there are many high-quality protein-rich nutritional shakes in the Herbalife Nutrition line that cater to different tastes and dietary requirements, including an Herbalife Nutrition protein shake that’s 100% vegan. This vegan meal replacement shake is easy to store and make.
You can apply this mentality to your meal planning as a whole. Keep some healthy meals in your refrigerator and freezer. You can reach for them on days you are too tired or too hungry to cook.
In order to find out the right calorie goal for you, meet with a personal trainer or nutritionist. These professionals can give you solid guidelines that take the guesswork out of your new healthy lifestyle.
If you don’t have access to these types of professionals, there are many weight loss resources online including apps that can point you in the right direction.
As you cut calories and increase activity, you’ll need to ensure your body has the fuel it requires. Adding supplements to your fitness plan can keep you in great shape, eliminate some cravings, and make sure your body can handle anything you throw at it. It’s always smart to consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
Exercise can be free and peaceful, a solitary pursuit that helps you clear your mind while working up a sweat. On the other hand, you can pile into a spin class and make friends while you shed pounds.
A balanced fitness plan should include some cardiovascular activity that gets your heart rate up and blood pumping. It should also focus on muscle toning so you can burn more fat and improve flexibility.
Striking the proper balance is tricky, so seeking professional help is the best idea. Many fitness clubs offer free consultations with a trainer to get you on the right path.
If you don’t have the time, resources, or social interest in going to a gym, start slow with some walking around the neighborhood. You can work your way up to a few fitness videos online. Try out new things and keep going! As long as you’re setting aside 30 minutes to an hour a few times a week to exercise, you’re making a great impact.
Opting In Opts You Out
The choices you make every day actually opt you into a healthy lifestyle as much as they remove you from an unhealthy one. That means each day is full of potential and infinite possibilities. That’s how change happens – one small choice at a time.
As long as you’re armed with a sound nutritional and fitness plan, some external support, and something that motivates you from within, you’ll succeed. When you need help, reach out to friends or family. People like this are in your life to give you a boost when you need it!
What can you do today to become more healthy and active?
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