A Charleston area wife approached her husband in anticipation of their upcoming 10th wedding anniversary. “Honey, I’d really like something shiny that goes from 0 to 160 in three seconds flat!” Needless to say, she was a bit more than disappointed when she got her brand new… bathroom scale.
Obesity is a huge problem nationwide but West Virginia continues to reign as one of the fattest states according to the most recent CDC statistics. Over 2/3 of the population in West Virginia is considered overweight or obese by CDC standards. So here we ask why is this and what can be done about it?
There are a number of factors to consider in understanding obesity. Of course, there are genetic considerations and metabolic disturbances but for most of us, poor eating habits, “stress” eating, and a lack of exercise are the main culprits.
Let’s not sugarcoat this. If we eat too much and don’t exercise enough, we are going to put on weight — it’s that simple!
We West Virginians live in an area steeped in a tradition of rich country foods, deep frying, buffet-style endless eating. Modern life has become so fast-paced with various obligations and it has become easier to get a “happy meal” in a drive thru than to whip up a healthier bag lunch in the morning. West Virginia has also been ranked very highly in national sadness scales. What’s curious about this is that when we’re depressed we tend not only to eat more but, as recent research has also discovered, when we’re depressed we tend to eat more carbohydrates because carbs tend to help us feel better. One theory on this is that carbohydrates stimulate serotonin production – which gives us that “quick fix” high.
What can we do about all this? First of all, lasting change requires some basic information. We need to eat less, we need to eat better, and we need to exercise more. The trouble is, when we’re already overweight and stressed and sad, motivation to cut back on calories and bump up on exercise is sadly lacking. What’s the answer? Baby steps. Crash dieting never works – the weight will always come back. Excessive exercise strategies only leads to fast burnout. The key to being a slimmer, happier, healthier you is making gradual, small changes to your lifestyle.
The bottom line is that we have to make the right choices. For example, West Virginia, let’s hold the mayo, cut back on the butter and limit the salad dressing. Let’s watch the size and calorie count of our meals. Don’t skip meals – instead boost your metabolism by eating less, more frequently. Let’s go for a walk around the block today. And let’s choose to do that every day! In a week, let’s go for two blocks! Let’s use the stairs instead of the escalator! Let’s put some weights by our bedside for quick access every morning – it’s amazing how quickly results will come with daily determination! These are some of the baby steps: they simply work if you choose to do the work! We need to have a reasonable goal in mind, create a plan on paper that is realistic, and then we have to implement it in a “one-day-at-a-time” approach. If personal trainers, nutritionists, and life coaches are outside of your budget, find a “motivation buddy” – someone who can help keep you on track and accountable. This may be a friend or a family member and it may work best if you act as his or her motivation buddy as well. Always remember: you’re not alone and you can do this! We’re all in this together! Let’s un-tip the scale – and the boat! Let’s just do it!