We’re packing on more pounds than ever before, despite an increased awareness of the importance of physical fitness and diet. While we all know how important it is to eat healthy and exercise, it’s not always easy to follow those recommendations. If you’re having trouble keeping the pounds off, you’re not alone. Obesity has become an epidemic in the United States. One-third of adults are now obese, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Causes of Obesity

The very things that make our lives so much easier also contribute to weight gain. Calorie-laden fast food is easy and cheap and a lifesaver for busy people who don’t have the time to cook from scratch. Super-sized portions add even more calories. One super-sized meal can contain all the calories you need for one day. Even if you make healthy choices for the rest of the day, that calorie splurge can affect your weight. Sugary snacks and drinks don’t make maintaining a healthy weight any easier.

Convenience and grocery stores offer a tempting selection of ready-to-eat and microwaveable foods, many of them unnecessarily high in sugar, fat, carbohydrates, and calories. Cars and public transportation, things that make our lives so much better, also contribute to weight gain. In the 1940s, few people could afford cars and instead relied on walking or bicycling to their destinations if public transportation wasn’t available.

Your grandparents or great grandparents got a great workout and didn’t even realize that they were exercising. Your grandparents also weren’t spending hours working on a computer or playing video games. Activities that require long hours sitting on a chair aren’t doing us any favors when it comes to losing weight.

Eating well and exercising is hard when your boss demands more and more of your time or you spend hours every day chauffeuring your kids to school and activities. In addition to not having much time to devote to exercise, many of us are just too tired to even consider stepping on a treadmill at the end of the day

Age and Weight Gain

photo courtesy of tobyotterIt’s harder to remain at a healthy weight as we get older. The rate of your metabolism, the speed in which your body burns calories, starts to slow down and the numbers on the scale begin to creep up if your lifestyle doesn’t change. Even worse, your muscle mass begins to decrease and is replaced by fat. With less muscle mass available, your body can’t burn as many calories. While no one can avoid these changes, weight gain isn’t inevitable as you age if you are willing to decrease your calorie intake and


Fighting Back

Losing weight and keeping it off can be challenging, but you’ll look and feel much better when you do. The following are a few guidelines on losing weight in a healthy way:

  • Take your time. Plan to lose one to two pounds per week at most.
  • Decrease temptation by planning ahead. Prepare and pack your own lunch at least a few times each week. If you do eat out, choose healthier options such as a salad but don’t load the salad with high-calorie dressing, croutons, cheese, or other foods that will increase the calorie content.
  • Take advantage of the weekend to prepare and freeze healthy meals for the coming week. When you know that you’ve got food at home, you’ll be less likely to stop at the local burger place on the way home.
  • Follow recommended portion sizes. One serving of meat should be no bigger than a deck of cards.
  • Make sure at least half of your plate contains vegetables but don’t cover the vegetables with calorie-heavy sauces.
  • Jump-start your metabolism by building muscle mass. Try using weight machines or resistance bands to strengthen and build muscles. Make sure you use the proper technique to avoid injuries.
  • Find a way to include exercise in your day. Take the stairs at work or drive by that parking spot closest to the building and find one in the rear of the lot. Better yet, walk to work if you live close by and it’s safe to walk.
  • Make exercise fun. Take a walk or bike ride with your family after dinner. If it’s something you enjoy doing, you’ll be more likely to stick with exercise.
  • Take advantage of fitness facilities at work if your company offers them. If you don’t have time to exercise during your lunch hour, arrive for work at little early or use the facilities at the end of the day.

The Bottom Line

Making a commitment to exercise and choose healthy foods is the first step in your journey to fight obesity.