In America, bigger is better. Pool table-sized flat-screen TVs show reality programs with larger-than-life personalities living in McMansions, and we watch while mindlessly eating our super-sized meals and diving into a gallon of cookie dough ice cream. According to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionCDC), nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese.
When it comes to weight, bigger is decidedly not better.
The Obesity “Epidemic”
Being overweight or obese has dangerous, and often deadly, consequences. These include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, joint pain, cancer, heart disease, and reduced life expectancy. And it’s not just adults. According to the CDC, nearly 20 percent of American children are obese, and the numbers are worse in African-American and Hispanic communities.
As our waistlines grow larger, so too does our diet and weight loss industry. The Internet, TV, and magazines bombard us with ads for weight loss supplements, diet plans, and surgeries. Store shelves burst with all things fat free, low carb, and reduced calorie. At any given time, it seems, the majority of Americans are trying to lose weight, trying to maintain weight loss, or at least thinking about a diet or weight loss plan. According to the American Heart Association, 154.7 million Americans are overweight or obese.
The truth is that there’s no magic pill, diet, or exercise that will take off the weight. What matters is calories in and calories out. You will lose weight if you reduce your intake of calories below what calories you expend during the day through activity. You can do it via smart dietary changes and portion control.
Exercise is one way to increase calorie expenditure and is also an important component in the overall path to weight loss. In the process, you’ll find your health will improve. Problems like joint pain and depression may even disappear. Everyday activities like playing with your kids, taking the stairs at work, or simply walking around the block will become easier and far more enjoyable.
Weight loss comes through a determined effort of portion control versus activity. No fad diet or supplement can take the place of a sound and balanced weight loss plan. While these methods may provide quick results, they come with side effects and often unsustainable weight loss.
Healthy weight loss is sustainable weight loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, losing 1 to 2 pounds each week is the right pace for dieters to strive for. This involves lifestyle changes like:
- eating less fast food
- reducing portion sizes
- exercising several times a week
- eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
- including whole grains for fiber intake
- staying hydrated with water and reducing or eliminating consumption of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
Through reasonable goal setting and a steady, focused pursuit toward health, we can begin to slow or even stop the climbing rates of obesity in this country. But this begins with individuals making meaningful changes in their own lives.