People think the most effective way to combat obesity is to watch what you eat, reduce your caloric intake, and increase your exercise. However, obesity results from a variety of factors — eating habits are just one contributor. Activity levels, lifestyle, genetics, and your mental state all affect your overall health and your ability to lose weight.
Can you lose weight simply by modifying what and how you eat? Sure. But limiting weight loss to diet alone increases the likelihood that the weight will return. You’ll have more success incorporating a plan that focuses on your physical and mental well-being.
Tips to fighting obesity and staying healthy
- Address mental health issues. If you’re struggling with a mental issue or disorder, work with a specialist. Experts agree that obesity and mental health are connected.
- Find a workout routine that works for you. If you aren’t a fan of the gym, that’s fine. It’s tempting to try the latest fad exercise because “everyone’s doing it,” but if you don’t enjoy it, you’ll be more tempted to quit.
If you don’t have the time to fit in 30 minutes of exercise in one fell swoop, try squeezing in exercise breaks instead: a 10-minute workout in the morning, while dinner’s in the oven, at the kids’ soccer game, or during a television show. Use these guidelines from the NHS to determine the amount of weekly activity right for you.
- Get plenty of rest. Sleep deprivation leads to a higher risk of weight gain and diabetes. It’s also really hard to stay motivated when you’re exhausted! Plus, when you’re sleep-deprived, you’ll have higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that increases your appetite.
- Question your cravings. People snack mindlessly because it’s something to do — even if it’s not necessary because you’re hungry. Eat mindfully, when you really are hungry. And verify that it’s hunger driving you and not thirst, which is often mistaken for hunger. Try drinking a glass of water first, going for a quick walk, or taking a stretch break. If the hunger remains, choose something healthy to munch.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Eating healthfully doesn’t have to mean filling your plate with bland food. Limit processed foods and refined grains in favor of incorporating vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruits, lean proteins, fish, and nuts into your meals. Here’s a week’s worth of balanced meals from Very Well Fit.
The Connection Between Obesity and Mental Health Disorders
Doctors agree that people who struggle with their weight are also often dealing with mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. A growing body of research suggests a very strong correlation between mental health conditions and obesity.
Benefits of a Home Gym
Commercial gyms do have their benefits. There’s a wide variety of equipment, trainers to help create a routine, different classes, and a sense that you’re not in it alone. However, these gyms also come with membership fees, monthly fees, annual charges, and sometimes maintenance fees, too. Adding a home gym brings short-term and long-term benefits, even with the initial set-up cost. Your budget and the amount of space you have will determine what equipment to include in your gym. You can start small and add pieces over time.
A home gym has the following benefits:
- You won’t have any fees beyond buying the equipment.
- You can go 24/7 and not waste time commuting to and from the gym.
- You won’t have to wait to share equipment.
- If you’re self-conscious, no one will see you working out in the privacy of your own home — and you can grunt, scream, or curse to your heart’s content.
- You can work out without worrying about childcare.
- You can control the environment — whether you want to blast Nine Inch Nails, change the TV to a channel you want, or exercise in total silence, you decide.
Struggling with obesity feels devastating and hopeless, especially if your genetics predispose you to weight gain. These tips will empower you to take your health into your own hands and take action to achieve a healthier life.
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