Sixty percent of the U.S. population is now considered overweight or obese. And while many people want to improve their shapes, hundreds of thousands are finding the task more difficult than they imagined.
If you are someone who wants to lose weight, improve your health, or simply look better physically . . . the following tips are for you. Read closely, and take this advice to heart:
• Be Patient and Shoot for your Personal Best: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and long-term health changes don’t happen overnight. Achieving those long-term health benefits will require long-term commitment from you. Set small, achievable goals, focus on what you need to do today or this week and establish your own “why,” something that will drive you to keep going when it becomes difficult to reach your goals.
• Exercise Aerobically: You don’t have to be a marathon runner or a Tour de France cyclist to be healthy, but you do need to get your blood pumping. If you’re overweight, you’ll find low-impact aerobic sports (think cycling, swimming or hiking) burn large amounts of calories without damaging your joints. You’ll also have a healthier and more efficient heart and blood vessels, which will help keep the fat off.
• Train your Strength: Many weight-loss hopefuls avoid weightlifting out of a mistaken fear of gaining “bulk” muscle. Weightlifting will help you avoid injury and shed fat more quickly, among other benefits. If you tend to gain muscle quickly and would prefer not to do so, consult a certified fitness trainer in your area and begin a program emphasizing lower weight and higher repetitions. Make reducing body fat a higher priority than dropping pounds.
• Instead of Concentrating on Eating Less, Focus on Eating Better: You can start off restricting calories to lose weight, but sooner or later, your focus should shift to eating healthier foods (which will probably mean eating fewer calories anyway). Use Melaleuca’s nutritional products (like Proflex™ 20, the Vitality Pack®, FiberWise® crackers and cookies, etc.) to ensure your body is receiving the nutrition it needs as you ramp up your exercise program.
• Believe in your ability to make significant life changes by making significant lifestyle changes: Decades ago, a young Swiss mother, who described herself as “pudgy,” turned to dieting to help her trim her figure. When someone in her work office saw her eating nothing but lettuce for lunch one day, he stopped and asked what she was doing. After she explained her desire for weight loss, the man said, “Miss, this will not do. If you want to lose weight, you have to eat …”
Hearing that made her smile.
“… and,” the man continued, “you have to move.”
What followed were hours, days, weeks, months and years of cycling, running, swimming and other exercises. Two decades later, Natascha Badmann, once a “pudgy” single mother, has won the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii six times. At age 41, she continues to outpace younger competitors and show off her girlish figure with Lycra sportswear.
That may be an extreme example, but it demonstrates the principle at work: If you’re willing, you can make changes—permanent and dramatic—in improving your own health.
(This article was originally written for a 2009 issue of Leadership in Action magazine. The percentage of overweight and/or obese Amercians had grown to 68% in 2010, according to Center for Disease Control statistics.)