by Tandis Bishop
Since 1990 Hawai'i has seen huge increases in the proportion of people who are overweight or obese. Between 1990 and 2003 Hawai'i's rate of overweight people increased 19 percent, and the rate of obesity has doubled. In 2005, 33 percent of adults were overweight, and 20 percent were obese. That means over half of the people in Hawai'i are either overweight or obese.
So what can you do to prevent obesity or lose weight if you are one of those people who struggle with weight problems?
The first thing you need to realize is that to lose fat (and keep it off) takes time and ultimately requires a change of lifestyle. You’ll need to work on developing good eating habits and regularly engage in some sort of physical activity. The key is to make this lifestyle change both gradual and enjoyable. In the beginning, don’t worry too much about what habits or foods you need to give up. Rather, focus on what healthy foods and activities you can add to your life. When you start eating healthier and engaging in more physical activity, you’ll begin to feel better, you’ll have more energy, and your desire for unhealthy foods or habits will gradually fall away.
Quick Fixes Don’t Work
Trying to change your diet drastically overnight or adding strenuous physical activity too quickly is not a good idea. Not only can it be physically unhealthy, but chances are it will be such an unpleasant experience for you, that you won’t be able to stick to it. The key is to make realistic goals and expectations and to be patient and determined. It may have taken you 20 years to put on an extra 50 pounds, so it is going to take some time to shed that unwanted weight. A 10-day fad diet isn’t going to do it. You may be able to lose some weight quickly, but in many cases, it will just come right back.
Finding the Right Balance
To begin losing weight, you will initially have to burn more calories than you eat. Later on, when you have achieved a healthful weight, you just need to try to maintain your weight by eating the same amount of calories as you burn off. It doesn’t take a math degree to figure this out, just use common sense. You simply need to eat smaller, more frequent meals, rather than giant, excessively large portions.
And Don’t Forget to be Active
Exercise is one of the most important things when it comes to preventing weight gain or losing weight. It’s simple. If you eat more calories than you burn off, then what you didn’t burn off will usually convert to fat. So the key is to EXERCISE. Do whatever it takes to move your body and sweat a little bit. Go for walks, swim, run around with your kids, have fun, and just stay active!
The following are some helpful tips on what foods you should add to your diet, and what foods you should try to cut back on: Things to eat more of:
- Fresh veggies (a wide variety of colors, including dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, romaine lettuce, chard, etc.)
- Fresh fruits (a wide variety)
- Whole grains (whole wheat breads, whole wheat pastas, brown rice, etc.)
- Plant proteins (like tofu, beans, lentils, seeds, nuts, and nut butters)
- WATER (very important to healthy weight loss because it helps flush excess out of your system and also helps your body function properly)
Things to cut back on (and eventually eliminate from your diet if possible):
- Sugar (including foods that contain table sugar, fructose, or corn syrup, like sodas, cakes, desserts, and the like. It is important to read labels because even breads and crackers may contain sugar.)
- Meat (including beef, pork, spam, chicken, eggs, and fish. This can be hard, so the best is to initially try to avoid red meat and then eventually try to reduce intake of the others.)
- Refined carbohydrates (white flour, enriched flour, fortified flours, white pasta, etc.)
- Processed foods (like spam, chips, basically all pre-packaged, manufactured foods that contain lots of preservatives and additives – i.e. big words in the ingredients list that you can’t pronounce.)