Today I was approached by a woman who feels she has tried just about every weight loss approach known. She losses a portion of her weight initially yet never sticks to a program long enough to reach her ultimate goal. Her frustration continues to grow stronger with each attempt. As frustrated as she may be, I realize she isn’t alone!
I believe most people fall short of their goals, whether weight loss or other, because of inconsistency. It is easy to do anything for a short period of time; however, the true test lies in the long term commitment.
People are also hugely influenced by their environment. In 1995, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent. Now every state with the exception of one does! Given these kinds of statistics, I’m guessing there is a good possibility many of us are surrounded by people, whether at work or in our personal lives, who lead less than healthy lifestyles. It’s very easy to fall into similar habits of those we associate with most. Peer pressures come in many forms and are not eliminated with age. I know I certainly find myself constantly evaluating my goals against my surroundings.
I think it has become common knowledge that the American diet isn’t lacking in processed foods. How many times a week do we find ourselves surrounded by a pizza party, baked goods left in the break room, ice cream runs with our kids, an afternoon soda to fight off heavy eyelids? Our diet consists of calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods. These processed, refined foods fall high on the glycemic index which means they are foods which rapidly increase our blood sugar resulting in an increase in insulin levels. Our bodies can only process so much sugar at once, turning the excess into fat, thus weight gain.
Research by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published in “Health Economics” in 2011 found that people who transition from whole grains to processed foods robustly increase body weight and obesity. The researchers fed people two meals with the exact same number of calories; the only difference was how much the food was processed. Group A was treated to sandwiches made with real cheese on whole-grain bread; Group B made do with processed cheese on fiber-stripped white bread. The results, published in Food & Nutrition Research, found that the processed meal decreased the rate of diet-induced thermogenesis—the number of calories you burn when eating and digesting—by nearly 50% compared to the meal made with whole foods! I don’t know about you, but 50% is a big number. If I can enjoy the exact same meal made from whole foods and burn 50% more calories than the equivalent processed food, the choice is easy!
I’ve only touched the surface. I’ve only commented on the weight gain. I have not even mentioned the chronic diseases that are tied to obesity, the decreased in self-esteem, lack of confidence in achieving goals, and the impact on the healthcare deficit! And to think it could all be centered on a lack of healthy choices or our unwillingness to stand courageously against the pressures we face daily. Whatever the case, it’s a growing concern. According to the US Government, along with increased portion sizes, bad food has contributed to overweight and obesity, affecting 68% of adults and 48% of children. Need I say more?
Whatever our justification for falling short of our goals, is it reasonable to say that having the consistency of a support group could increase our chances for success? For me, I know that regardless of my goal, it is critical to surround myself with like-minded individuals who constantly challenge me. Even once I reach a set goal, I find I need that support to maintain or push further. Success, whether defined as reaching short-term or long-term goals, is a continuous process in ALL areas of life!
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