Overweight and obesity is one of the terrible battles to fight these days; terrible because it puts you at risk of so many other diseases. Also, there have been so many ‘ways’ that have been suggested to weight loss and while you’ve tried some, probably none has been a sustainable way to get the weight off and keep it that way. Other painful truth no one wants to hear is that obesity in mothers is a strong predictor of obesity in children thus perpetuating a generational cycle if one is not careful.
For those who have lost weight at some point and gained it back can testify that losing the weight after that attempt has been very hard and not because you don’t have the will power to get it off. It is simply that your body is fighting back: by slowing down your metabolism and even causing more hunger. It appears that it is no longer about you eating because you are not eating much anymore but yet it seems that even drinking water can get you to add that weight.
Some weight loss strategies suggest that you have to put in more effort at physical activity so that you can get off the weight but the body still knows how to balance things out even when you tried to increase energy expenditure. Yet, you do not have the time and energy to invest in the amount of physical activity it would take to get off the weight and maintain it. For some strategies that focus on diets, the foods they encourage you to eat are sometimes not the ones you can get easily or can even afford for a long time to make it a sustainable one. Let us not talk about the ones where you had to eat horrible fats and cut out all your carbohydrates and how unhealthy and unsustainable it was.
Some things about weight loss have been apparent for a long time now. One is that it requires a lifestyle, lifetime change. For the young, especially those in their early twenties, the key here is prevention and to start early. However, whether you are a newcomer in the fight against overweight and obesity or a veteran, the fact that you have been fighting this battle by yourself may be one of the reasons why you are not succeeding.
Some people will say that you gained weight all by yourself and you should lose it by yourself. However, countries where overweight and obesity is an epidemic are gradually seeing that it is beyond individuals and they are reviewing their food policies and taking action to provide healthier foods in schools and in the market place, getting the industry to provide healthier foods, improving their food environment as well as encouraging physical activity. These are some of the people that contribute to you being overweight and obese: you and what you eat and what you do, farmers and what they grow and what they don’t, food processing industries and what they produce, scientists and research evidence they provide, government and food policies they implement, politicians and how they rule. All these people interfere with your food environment.
This is not a call for you to sit and wait for the government to do something. You and those around you need to take a ‘community action’. The religious bodies, womens’ groups, farmers’ unions, and other societal groups that are influential need to come together to get the change they want. For instance, farmers need the incentives to grow healthier foods that are affordable and they need to do so in healthier ways.
It is not just obesity, there is the issue of undernutrition, rising chronic diseases like diseases of the heart, diabetes, and cancers. A lifestyle change is required since they are all linked to poor diets and lifestyle choices.
What good will it do if you are trying to lose some weight but foods that you can afford in the market are those high in carbohydrates and bad fats and those foods that can stay on the shelf forever but have nothing much to offer you? Oh, how frustrating it can be when you shop for perishable vegetables for you and your family but there is no electricity to provide refrigeration so that they can last longer and your money seems to be burning so you skip buying fruits and vegetables or even stop buying. The fight against obesity is like swimming against a strong current and those who are strong will finally get to the other side but many get tired and allow the current to sweep them away. There is strength in swimming together though and no one truly wants to be left behind.
The bottom line is this: whether the world gets it right or not, and whether farmers, policy makers, marketers, producers, processors and so on play their part or not, it’s about YOU getting off that weight. The message here is that you are not alone. Working together as a ‘community’ can help you, your family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, religious affiliations and other affiliates get access to healthier foods that are more affordable, learn together how to eat healthily; create an environment that promotes physical activity, work together to ban unwholesome and even dangerous foods from being marketed in your children’s’ schools and build a support system that would promote sustainable lifestyle of health.
This might seem like a ‘long thing’ but it can be done. In the meantime, you can hold someone’s hand and start working together to get the weight off for good.