I was at a conference in Washington, D.C. when I received a reminder email concerning my October newsletter article. Friends and colleagues suggested I could write about autumn and highlight fall spices that can help address certain health conditions.
Although it was a good and timely suggestion, as I did some sightseeing in our nation’s capital, I found inspiration in an unlikely place.I noticed there was a fast food establishment on just about every corner, and it got me thinking about a national epidemic that likely affects all Liberty HealthShare members, either personally or by association. That epidemic is obesity.
I struggled over whether to address the subject of obesity for this month’s article because I recognize it is a sensitive subject for many. Indeed, obesity is a constant reality for at least a third of American adults.
My mother was obese, so when I was growing up, I was a daily witness to the physical and mental strain the extra weight placed on her. She never wanted to talk about how overweight she was and often did not leave the house except to go to work and to church. She was a wonderful mother, doing everything she could for her children, but she often complained of pain in her knees, easily became tired, and was frequently short of breath. She became depressed because of her weight and the fact that she could not play with her grandchildren as she wanted to. My mother was mobile every day at her job, so why was she obese?
During my breaks between conference sessions, I spoke with peers and physicians, asking this question: what causes obesity? To my surprise, I was given a wide variety of answers, some of which are not commonly mentioned in the discussion surrounding obesity: hormones, medications, age, lack of sleep, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), genetic predisposition, other diseases, stressful work schedules, sedentary lifestyles (due at least in part to modern conveniences and technology), unhealthy diets, late-night eating, and stress were just some of the answers I was given. Certainly, some of these factors require a doctor’s care, but the good news is that no matter our specific health profile, there are small changes we can make to fight the battle against extra weight and obesity.
Is losing weight easy? No! Does it happen overnight? Absolutely not! Does it require dieting? This one may surprise you, but no! Does it require lifestyle changes? Absolutely! Will we need dedication, determination, and strength? Yes! In order to be successful in making permanent lifestyle changes, we must be dedicated to becoming healthier, determined to stay the course, and strong as we resist temptation.
Here are a few simple tips for fighting obesity and changing your future health:
• Drink water before every meal
• Monitor alcohol intake (liquid calories are sneaky!)
• Take the stairs instead of the elevator
• Park farther away from the building when you run errands or go to work
• Get up once an hour and walk around your office
• Try some exercises and stretches at your desk
• Pay attention to your portion sizes
• Plan your meals and your grocery shopping
• Walk your dog instead of letting him outside on his own
• Close the kitchen (stop eating) at 8:00 pm
• Wash dishes by hand instead of using a dishwasher
• Avoid fruit juices and sodas
• Include more vegetables in your diet
• Put your utensil down between bites
• Eat more fiber so you feel full longer and for better gut health
• Go for a 20-minute walk and use that time to call a friend or family member
• When it’s time to clean your house, turn on some golden oldies or your music of choice and let yourself dance from task to task
If you are struggling with extra unhealthy weight or obesity, it’s probably safe to assume a large part of how you got here is because responsibilities at work and at home have taken precedence over self-care. You likely don’t feel you can take time each day to move around (after all, that’s all exercise is!) or be more intentional about what you eat, but I want to challenge you to MAKE the time. I have often thought that I don’t have time to exercise or make other small changes, but the reality is, that’s an excuse.
Let’s all stop making excuses and commit to making a few small changes to start. The above list includes simple, attainable steps that could lead to great changes. And consider this: the healthier you are, the better you will be able to apply your energies to your commitments and, most of all, enjoy life.
Health & Happiness,
Health and Wellness Director