So much in life is outside of our control such as where we are born, who our parents are and our genetic makeup.
When taking a family history, I always ask about my patient’s family members and whether or not others in the family have weight problems.
If your family members have also struggled with weight, this may mean you have some genetic tendencies to gain weight but it doesn’t have to be your destiny – since how you live your life can greatly impact your health and weight.
Because we live in an obesogenic environment where high calorie, good-tasting processed foods are plentiful and physical activity has been engineered out of our daily lives, this is not always easy.
You may wonder the types of things you can start doing today if you have genetic tendencies toward developing overweight or obesity and want to get healthier:
1-Ditch the Quick Fix Diet Approach
Because a quick-fix diet is typically something you go on and off of, this doesn’t help you long term.
We know that weight management, especially for anyone with genetic tendencies toward weight gain, is really a lifelong endeavor.
Adopting a longer-term mindset where you work on easing healthier lifestyle habits into your daily routine is really the best approach.
2-Be on Your Healthy Eating Game
Being on your game requires being mindful of the many food choices we all make daily and finding ways to make healthy eating the easier choice.
This takes some planning ahead for common situations when eating healthy can be a challenge:
- Before dining out, look up restaurant menus online to be better prepared to choose healthy options
- Before attending any celebratory event or holiday gathering, eat a healthy planned snack so you don’t come to the event starving
- When spending a lot of time in the car, keep a cooler in the front seat for water and healthy snacks and know ahead of time some healthy food options at airports
- For workplace eating temptations, keep some calorie controlled healthy snacks in your desk and bring lunches from home when possible
- For the times you know you’ll be coming home stressed or tired, keep some healthy snack options that you still find satisfying.
Using the 80/20 rule, know that the goal is not to be perfect; being on your healthy eating game 80% of the time leaves 20% for life balance.
You may be surprised to know that I encourage my patient to strive to be a ‘B’ student because ‘B’ students manage weight better.
3-Make Physical Activity a Lifestyle
It’s a misconception that you must go to a fitness club or exercise class to become healthier.
Instead of thinking of the ‘e’ word, exercise, I encourage you to think about being physically active each and every day, during the course of your normal day’s routine.
Because we all sit too much at our computers, in our cars and on our couches, we need to do our best to decrease these sedentary activities.
Here are some ways my patients who are successful at managing weight build more physical activities into their daily routines:
- They set a timer on their smart phone every hour to buzz, vibrate or beep to remind themselves to stand up and walk around
- They take the stairs instead of the elevator and park car farther away to get in more steps
- They use sit-stand workstations or a treadmill desk
- They take family walks which includes longer walks with their dog if they have one
- They look at gardening, lawn care or snow shoveling as opportunities to be physically active
- They plan walking meetings with colleagues
- They engage in a self-paced walking program
Scheduling needed physical activity time into your daily planner will help ensure you stay as active as possible.
Physical activity is as good for the mind as it is for the body.
Enjoy your health!
Robert Kushner., MD
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