We hear about it all the time – how bad the weight crisis is getting. But while it sounds ominous, there are some easy ways to make sure you and your family don’t become part of the statistics:
1 – Get the Facts
We often think about weight in terms of how it affects our appearance but there are clinical standards that define what a healthy weight is and the type of risk your current weight has on your overall health. So when it comes to understanding your and your family’s risk, this is the best place to start.
Speaking to your doctor about what a good weight for you and your family members is; as well as determining whether there are any underlying medical conditions that need to be addressed is a very important first step.
For adults, some key measurements used to determine your health risks include the Body Mass Index (BMI) and Waist to Hip Ratio (WHR). You can calculate your BMI by dividing your weight (kg) by your height squared (m2):
BMI = weight (kg) / [height (m)]2
less than 18.5
30 or greater
You can calculate your WHR by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement:
WHR = waist circumference / hip circumference
Waist to Hip Ratio Categories:
Health Risk Based Solely on WHR
0.95 or below
0.80 or below
0.96 to 1.0
0.81 to 0.85
2 – Say “I Do”
Once you have a good understanding of what your current risk is, you are well on your way to putting a plan into action. Whether you need to lose, gain or maintain your weight by incorporating healthy eating habits and regular activity into your lifestyle, it is important to set realistic goals and make a commitment to follow through on them.
Healthy weight loss or gain means that you should lose/gain between ½ to 1 kg a week. But there may also be weeks when your weight stays the same (plateau). As for children, since they are still growing, approaching weight issues through good nutrition, increased activity and being a good role model with little focus on the scale is critical in ensuring that they develop a healthy body image.
But whatever your goals may be, setting a realistic time line for achieving them will ensure that you don’t get disheartened by unexpected set backs and also means that you won’t put your and your family’s health on the back burner.
Some good goals include:
Enjoying home cooked meals 5 times a week
Including a serving of vegetables or fruits at every meal
Going for a 45 min walk every other week day
Going to the park to play Frisbee on Saturday with the family
3 – Plan Ahead
Now that you have a game plan that makes your goals more tangible, it is important that you also make sure that you will implement them on an on-going basis.
Setting aside some time during the week to plan your meals and activities in advance will make it much easier for you to follow through with your plans in the long run. Believe it or not, the 15 min you spend on Friday morning organizing your menu for the week will not only save you a bundle of cash but also mean much better health for you and your family in the long run. Think about it, the stress alone of figuring out what to eat on Tuesday evening after you’ve just gotten home from a late meeting and the baby’s crying can have a toll on the nerves! That’s besides the money you’ll save by having an accurate list to take with you to the grocery store as well as the health impact that fewer stops to MacDonald’s on your way home will have.
4 – Add it to the Routine
Human beings are creatures of habit. That’s why fixing a regular day and time that you plan your activities for the week, shop for groceries, go to the gym, or incorporate a family activity into your schedule, will make them that much easier to accomplish. Remember, it takes time to develop lasting habits so be consistent with your schedule. Before you know it, you’ll be able to whip up a weekly menu in your sleep.
5 – Make it Social
Whether you go for a walk with your best friend, take a dance class with your spouse, or play a friendly game of soccer with the family, getting those close to you involved in your healthy lifestyle not only makes them more enjoyable but has a positive impact on everyone’s health.
From helping with picking out grocery items to being your sous chef, to playing an active role in packing their lunch and picking their favorite meals for the week, kids can really help out too. And more importantly, getting children involved in these activities will help them develop good habits that will last them a lifetime.
By incorporating these five simple strategies into your life, you will help guard yourself and your loved ones from the obesity epidemic and the many negative health issues that come with it.
*Published in the February 2012 Issue of Health Matters
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