I recently had a conversation with someone who stated “someone can be obese and healthy”. My only thought that would lead them to say that, is if their definition of health was a lack of a diagnosis. If that were true, than I suppose they are right. You can be obese and not have a diagnosed disease. I can’t emphasize enough though, that “not being sick” does NOT equate health. Obesity is an epidemic like we’ve never seen before. Weight is often a topic people skirt around because it can be a very personal and sensitive issue, but it doesn’t change the fact that if you are obese, you are not healthy. Period. There are two factors that lead to obesity- either someone lives an unhealthy lifestyle (high stress, poor nutrition, high toxicity, nutrient deficiency, high consumption of processed and non-foods, inactive living…), OR they live a healthy lifestyle and the body is not functioning properly, thus can not integrate the healthy behaviours effectively. The only way the health of our communities will improve, is if we start truly becoming accountable for our role in it all. To stop making excuses and justifications for the very habits that are declining health and to take a step towards change.
“Losing weight” is a common recurring goal for many, especially at the beginning of a new year. The obvious (but not so easy to maintain) strategies surface…exercising more, eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, cutting out sweets…the list goes on. All are true and effective as witnessed at the overflowing gyms and organic aisle for the first three weeks of January. I don’t necessarily think it is that people don’t know what to do but there can be some hidden obstacles that sabotage efforts, and the real question really comes down to how to create a sustainable lifestyle change. Losing weight is not that difficult, it’s keeping the weight off that can be challenging for many…particularly if the new healthy habits are not adopted permanently.
It’s important to remember that everything is connected. Every choice in our day moves our body in the direction of greater health, or towards disease. Here are some of my thoughts on where to start:
1. Observe your language.
It may sound fluffy, but I firmly believe that we often create self-fulfilling prophecies that have the potential to move us forward or hold us back. If you accept that you are always going to be overweight, that losing weight is hard, that “my family is obese, so I will be obese”, you probably will find over time that all those are true. But not because it is accurate, but because you believe them to be true. The opposite stance can also be taken though. Believe you have the power to sculpt your body, and to be healthy.
2. Have an outcome in mind, but focus on the process.
Moving your body towards a healthier state does not often have quick results. It is like looking at a child every single day…change may not be obvious, but if you look at the same child over a span of weeks, months or years, drastic change is happening. Set an intention each day, and let it go. There may be days where you fall of the wagon, especially at the beginning, but every moment offers an opportunity to get back on track. Seize it.
3. There is a Japanese philosophy known as Kaizen, which is based on slow, steady change.
Eating one fast food meal will not have a significant impact, and neither will one work out or one salad. But compound any of these over time, you will see substantial effects.
4. Dismiss the “all-or-nothing” philosophy.
You may have set an intention to work out an hour after work, traffic is nutty, you left work late…we all have experienced these obstacles. Do what you can. Even 15 min is better than none, and it will keep you anchored in your commitment to yourself, and reinforcing the new healthy habit.
5. Sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture.
Ask any new parent and they will agree! Sleep is when our body repairs and regenerates. Where it has the opportunity to incorporate the healthy choices you have made. Without sleep we don’t reap the benefits of all of our behaviours, and it puts our body in a state of stress. When our body enters a state of stress, it increases our cortisol levels, which promotes weight gain. There are more complicated explanations around this process, but most simply, stress of any type is counterproductive to any weight-loss strategies.
Regardless of what your “next step” is, ask yourself if it is something that can be sustained as an ongoing lifestyle. If not, how can you make it so? Keep in mind that the healthier you become, the easier it will be to reach toward better choices. Create an intention for change, and reach out for support. You will be astounded with what you can achieve this year!
Born and raised in Calgary, Dr. Karen Quinn (www.drkarenquinn.com) is a local Chiropractor and University of Calgary graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Health Physiology. With an enthusiasm for all things that will guide people towards improved health and an enhanced quality of life, she was drawn to Chiropractic for its promotion of proactive well-being and respect for the innate wisdom of the body. Karen works out of Back Strong Health Group, is also an instructor at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and has will be completing her Yoga Teacher Certification in the upcoming year.