Four steps to a healthier you

(ARA) – The growing obesity rates in the United States have companies, health care workers and even the government discussing concerns about the physical and mental health effects and costs associated with weight gain. According to a recent estimate, by 2030 – in less than 20 years – 65 million more American adults may be obese.

There are, fortunately, ways to reverse this devastating trend. By taking responsibility of your own health and wellness, obesity can be controlled. Start with a goal, but make it a realistic one that will have you feeling a sense of accomplishment when you achieve it, and ultimately, maintain it.

The following steps can help you take charge of your weight loss, achieve your goal and become a healthier person:

1. Create a supportive environment. Talk with your family, friends and coworkers. Get people on your side to encourage and support you. Ask them to help you keep your goal a priority, and to provide constructive feedback when you meet difficult challenges that could potentially interfere with accomplishing your goal.

2. Talk with your doctor. Bring your doctor on board early on to help you set a goal and ensure you make healthy weight-loss decisions. In fact, a recent study in The Lancet indicates that overweight and obese patients referred to Weight Watchers by their physician lost more than twice as much weight on average when compared to those who received only standard care. They were also more than three times as likely to lose 10 percent or more of their initial weight. Moreover, 61 percent of patients in the Weight Watchers group finished the study having lost at least 5 percent of their body weight (32 percent did so in the standard care group). Weight loss between 5 and 10 percent is shown to have significant health benefits and reduces the risks of diabetes and heart disease.

“The Lancet study results suggest that those patients in the study who were referred to Weight Watchers were able to be much more engaged and benefited from the intense support the weekly meetings provided and made them feel more accountable for their weight loss efforts,” says Karen Miller-Kovach, chief scientific officer for Weight Watchers International. “This reinforces the importance of group support for long-term behavioral change and sustainable weight loss.”

3. Get moving. Being active can help weight loss and is critical to maintaining weight loss. Find an activity that you enjoy, and begin to include it in your daily activities. Also try exploring some new activities that involve different muscle groups in your body. For example, cross country skiing and snowshoeing are great activities to try during the winter months, while exploring the pristine white countryside. And if you prefer to stay indoors, explore options in your community, such as water aerobics classes for a low-impact work out.

4. Re-evaluate regularly. As you go through your weight loss process, re-evaluate your personal motivation, and check in with your doctor, family, friends on a frequent basis to review how you are doing in accomplishing your goal. Continue to set small, attainable goals such as a 5 percent weight loss.

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