We often hear the term ‘obese’ being used synonymously with ‘looking fat’; this is a wrong interpretation of the word as obesity is a serious health condition that occurs when your Body Mass Index (BMI) increases and exceeds 30. This leads to various diseases that may affect your quality of life and hinder you from being effectively happy.
Obesity is a national issue, if we talk about Pakistan. According to the Global Obesity Observatory, the national obesity risk (based on the rate of increase in obesity and current prevalence) lies at 6.5/10. This is distressing and needs to be dealt with, especially because a majority of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 40. It shows that a large part of those affected or at risk of being obese include children.
Obesity leads to more than just physical issues. Since, being overweight is frowned upon, it can also lead to feelings of low self-esteem and give rise to mental health conditions such as depression. In other cases, unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits can trigger eating disorders. Weight, physical activity and nutrition are therefore intrinsically linked — and all of these factors have a symbiotic relationship with our emotional and psychological wellness.
Physical activity, exercise and a well-balanced diet are your tools to combat obesity and, in extension, health concerns such as heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, etc. The root of all of these health concerns can be traced to a combination of genes plus insalubrious lifestyle. Ultimately, it will always come down to this for the cure of obesity — food and exercise.
It is not easy to find time to exercise, especially with how busy our routines are; it doesn’t matter what your line of work is, whether you are running your own business or work from home, sometimes it is close to impossible sparing time for exercise. We are all constantly working to make ends meet or balance our personal and professional lives. It is all incredibly exhausting. We are just too busy to take care of ourselves, and that is the biggest concern.
In order to prevent obesity, doctors recommend a daily high and medium intensity cardio workout, along with a close eye on our diet and eating habits. Of course, if you have latent diseases, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or obesity, the best way for you to figure out a diet and exercise plan for yourself is to consult your doctor. That way you will get a tailor-made plan that caters to your needs and would help rather than aggravate your health.
Incorporate Physical Activity into Everyday Life
Despite how difficult it may be, taking care of your body is something we should make time for in our lives. It is an act of self-care, and a necessary one. It may be difficult, but it does not have to take long. There are so many time saving physical activities that you can incorporate into your life. You can try yoga for an hour during the day. Instead of using the elevator, try and take the stairs as often as you can. Other than that, you can take out time to go for a daily walk or a jog. You can take up swimming or hiking. Make your bed every morning, clean your room, organize your office space; it is these simple acts that we leave for later that can actually help us maintain an active physical presence.
It is okay if you do not want to start high intensity training at the gym — it is important to remember that you need to be consistent in order to maintain momentum. Additionally, starting off with high intensity cardio can cause painful muscle damage. So, remember, it is not a race, it is a marathon!
Keep Your Diet Balanced
Honestly, this part is even more difficult than finding time to exercise or be active. I know, we are all lovers of food, generally. And to top it we have comfort foods when we are stressed. One thing that definitely helps is following a meal plan. The idea with watching your food is to make sure your caloric intake is less than your caloric deficit. This means that you do not eat as many carbs as you burn. Healthy meal plans include:
• An assortment of vegetables and fruits, along with whole grains (Oats, brown rice, whole-wheat or multi-grain bread. This makes up for the fiber in your diet)
• Seafood, lean meat, peas and beans, eggs, poultry products, etc. (Soy products, nuts, seeds, and tofu also make up the protein element in your diet)
• Fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products (or you can try out soy beverages to see how you like them)
• Olive oil, canola oil and assorted oils based from nuts (like almond oil)
It may seem like a lot of work, but change never comes easy. Ultimately, your future self will thank you for this initiative you took. Find a meal prep plan online, and get yourself into eating healthy. You do not need to starve yourself; there are a million delicious and healthy recipes online. You do not have to give up sugar for the rest of your life. You just need to remember to moderate yourself and stick to the meal plan. Often, I find myself eating junk food because I am stressing about my weight. However, one thing that genuinely helps in dealing with these stress factors is to understand those self-destructive tendencies that take us down those unhealthy paths.
There is no shame in watching your weight. In fact, in a way it is not really about weight or how you look at all. It is about how healthy your lifestyle is. If you feel that this is making you uneasy or if you are incredibly self-conscious in this regard or you may be trying to get over an emotional or psychological dilemma, therapy is recommended. It will help you see past the curtains in our head that stand in the way of active self-care.
I promise you change will always be scary. But ultimately, once you set yourself down this path you will realize how effectively it has helped you. Your hair will be better, your skin will start glowing and your body will become healthier. This will, in turn, help you feel better and be at ease. It will all be because you chose to take steps and make your lifestyle healthy. HH
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