Boomer Women: 8 Ways to Improve Your Emotional Health

Boomer Women: 8 Ways to Improve Your Emotional Health

“I’m alone, but I’m not lonely. I like who I am. I like who I’m becoming.”

—Deena Kastor

Today, because of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the digital mental health market is exploding.

Stress and anxiety have accelerated demand for virtual behavioral health services.

According to the European Connected Health Alliance, more than 380,000 health apps are available through Apple and Android operating systems, and around 20,000 of them address mental health.

But what about emotional health?

Emotional Health Vs. Mental Health

In researching this topic, I did not find apps specifically to help with emotional health.

I believe this is because mental health and emotional health are two terms often used interchangeably.

But while deeply intertwined, mental health and emotional health are not the same things.

Emotional health has to do with your thoughts and feelings—and get the best of you.

On the other hand, mental health impacts our ability to process information and what’s going on around us.

For instance, our emotional health enables us to express our dissatisfaction if a situation makes us upset or angry. But our mental health affects how we understand what’s going on and process the problem.

In other words, I was thinking vs. expressing.

Some say that mental health is hardware, meaning how well our mind processes and understands information and experiences; our ability to carefully reason through decisions and remain focused and steady.

Whereas emotional health is the software, meaning our ability to manage and express emotions that arise and deal with life’s challenges.

Emotional Health Matters

When we cope with life relationships, we must balance our thoughts and emotions.

Though caring for our mental health (being productive at work, setting goals, contributing to society, etc.) is essential, too, our emotional awareness and health (behaviors, feelings, and thoughts).

Thus, if you are struggling with life’s stresses and an ability to adapt to life’s changes and handle difficult times—unable to manage the ups and downs of day-to-day life—you are not emotionally healthy.

And you need to take action now!

Here are eight helpful tips to improve your emotional health:

Tip #1. Practice daily self-care

  • Meditate
  • Drink cold water (8 glasses a day)
  • Exercise (walk 15 minutes outside, if possible)
  • Eat healthy meals
  • Practice gratitude
  • Manage stress (practice yoga)

Tip #2. Talk about your feelings

  • Feel good about who you are
  • Be positive
  • Tell someone if you feel anxious
  • Write positive affirmations down and repeat them to yourself
  • Ask for help; accept support
  • Say “no” when you need to

Tip #3. Have a sense of purpose

Having a driving force or something to inspire you keeps you going:

  • Commit more time to your children
  • Take up a hobby
  • Get a new job
  • Volunteer

Tip #4. Get quality sleep

To have good health, it has been said that “sleep is to a man what winding up is to a clock.” In sleep, you:

  • Get a break from the many tensions of the day
  • Get rest from such burdens as loneliness and poor health
  • Relieve feelings of guilt, depression, anxiety, or worry

Tip #5. Learn to manage your time to reduce stress

Time management means the conscious control of time spent on specific activities. The benefits: more productivity and less stress.

Check out the Harvard Business Review for tips on ways to improve your time management and feel like you’ve accomplished what’s needed.

Tip #6. Connect with others

Scientists are finding that social connections will help you live longer because of the effects on emotional and physical health. Ideas:

  • Deepen relationships (with the kids, friends, family)
  • Take a class
  • Accept invitations
  • Join at least three groups (online or in-person)

Tip #7. Be Mindful

Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to things as they are.”—Zindel Segal

  • Slow down
  • Breathe deeply
  • Meditate
  • Focus on the moment
  • Spend time in nature
  • Keep a daily journal
  • Forgive yourself, repeatedly

Tip #8. See a therapist

If you aren’t able to deal with your feelings adequately, and your loved ones aren’t helping you to do so, then, by all means, see a therapist. They can help you identify areas of your emotional health where you want to improve and help you come up with a plan.

Seeking professional help is a way to practice proper self-care.

Bottom Line

Emotional health is equally important to physical health.

In this article, you have discovered eight tips to put you on the path to improved emotional health.

If you feel like you don’t have control of your thoughts and emotions, then

make self-care a priority.

Start by caring for your core needs: explore ways to reduce stress, get adequate sleep, connect with others, meditate, stay positive, call a friend.

Believe it or not, you can choose how to feel.

Emotional and physical health are two sides of the same coin. There is a strong connection between the mind and body.

Emotional instability will affect your work and your family.

Please, do not take your emotional health for granted.

But if you’re struggling to keep it together and need help, then it’s time to contact a therapist, which is the most self-loving choice you can make.

“When our emotional health is in a bad state, so is our level of self-esteem. We have to slow down and deal with what is troubling us, so that we can enjoy the simple joy of being happy and at peace with ourselves.”

—Jess C. Scott
Change Your Mindset to Improve Your Relationships

Change Your Mindset to Improve Your Relationships

“Becoming is better than being.”

—Carol Dweck

Mindset is a way of thinking.

I watched Lisa Nichol’s show recently, and she had as her guest Shawn Stevenson, nutritionist, and bestselling author.

I was so impressed with Shawn’s presentation that I was moved to write this article based on what he claims are our two most valuable assets: our mind (not our brain) and our health.

The brain and the mind are not the same things.

As discussed on researchgate.net, “The brain is an organ, but the mind isn’t. The brain is the physical place where the mind resides.

“The mind is the manifestation of thought, perception, emotion, determination, memory, and imagination that takes place within the brain.

“The mind is often used to refer especially to the thought processes of reason.”

Thus, the brain and the mind are different types of entities—physical and mental.

What Is Your Mindset?

Mindset: “An established set of attitudes held by someone.”—Oxford English Dictionary

One of the foremost published authorities on mindset is Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., who describes two different mindsets: A Fixed Mindset and a Growth Mindset.

In Dr. Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success: How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential, she says those with a fixed mindset “believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits…that talent alone creates success—without effort.”

However, those with a growth mindset “believe that their basic abilities developed through dedication and hard work…this view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

According to Dr. Dweck, “virtually all great people have had these [growth mindset] qualities.”

I have devoted my business website to health and wellness topics, especially as this relates to senior women.

So how can you, dear reader, benefit your health and well-being if you had what Dr. Dweck calls a “growth mindset”?

Can You Change Your Mindset?

Let me begin with Martha’s story (as told in my book, A Family Caregiver’s Guide: 7 Secrets to Convert Negative Triggers to Positive Emotions):

“I have been caring for Mom and Dad for nearly twelve years now. Six of the years have been 24/7 living with Mom and Dad until he died two years ago. We all know how stressful life is when caregiving. And it only builds up.

“Also, I have anxiety/panic disorder for the last thirty years. Anyway, a close friend and I were chatting, and we were saying how we don’t feel ‘happy’ and haven’t felt so for a long time, but we don’t know why or what is missing.

“I thought it was because I’m a recovering addict/alcoholic—although I have been clean and sober for thirty years now—and that my personality is searching for an emotional ‘high’ and when I don’t feel it, I’m down.

“So, we decided to do some homework. Each night for a week, we were to make a list of things that made us happy during the day. So, I sat down in front of the computer to start my list.

“I sat there for a long time, and as I reviewed my day, nothing was coming to mind—until the first f*****g thing that popped into my head was, ‘I yelled at Mom today.’ And yes, that had made me happy. I am pathetic!”

Everybody wants to feel good—everybody!

It is without exception; it doesn’t matter what your race, color, creed, or religion is—you want to feel good.

Your mind and your body are closely linked.

Medical science recognizes that emotions such as fear, sorrow, envy, resentment, and hatred are responsible for most sicknesses; some even estimate that they account for 60 percent of all illnesses.

Martha’s mindset—her thoughts, attitude, and beliefs—about her circumstances caring for her parents were such that she felt angry, miserable, and lost.

And her behavior toward her mother reflected her attitude and mindset: “I yelled at Mom today. And yes, that made me happy.”

I don’t question that Martha loves her mother, but her actions and attitude do not reflect any warmth or kindness.

In considering her actions toward her mother, perhaps Martha would say, “That’s just the way I am!”

So, does Martha have a fixed mindset when it comes to the qualities she possesses as her mother’s caregiver?

Can Martha change her mindset, and if so, how?

Learn to Get in the Right Mindset

The question for Martha becomes does she want to act differently toward her mother. If so, she must say to herself, “I will learn to be different.”

“I will learn to display the qualities of a successful and loving family caregiver.”

In other words, Martha must have a “growth mindset”; a mindset that allows her to learn how to foster positive relations with her mother.

Martha must learn to exhibit successful family caregivers’ qualities that include empathy, patience, and gratitude.

In showing empathy, Martha shows she understands her mother’s struggle in her illness. She has, in effect, fellow feeling in her mother’s pain and discomfort; she has walked in her mother’s shoes, so to speak.

Unfortunately, empathy is not a universal response to the suffering of others. Some don’t care deeply about other people or their well-being.

Surely, Martha would not yell at her mother if she felt and showed empathy.

When it comes to patience, Martha has been caring for her mother for nearly twelve years; she’s tired, exhausted.

Martha’s nerves are understandably frayed; she’s annoyed and frustrated.

But Martha can learn the value of patience.

Scientists say that learning to be patient is good for your health; you’ll be a happier person.

If Martha learns how to be patient with her circumstances, she’ll find she has less anger, less stress, and less worry.

Patience: “The ability to accept delay, trouble, or suffering without becoming angry or upset.”—Oxford English Dictionary

A final quality I would suggest Martha learn to express to have better relations with her mother is gratitude.

Oftentimes, we don’t understand the value of what we have. We no longer recognize the good that comes our way. We’re closed off to others’ needs.

Showing gratitude often removes this feeling.

Also, gratitude is a powerful human emotion with scientifically-proven benefits to our health, including our brains.

Science shows that grateful people sleep better, improve their self-esteem, and reduce stress, among many other benefits.

In fact, a Google search on “gratitude” reveals numerous science-based findings on the benefits of gratitude.

Adopt a Growth Mindset

In this article, I’ve shared just one example of the value of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. 

When it comes to interpersonal relationships, people often wish things could be different.

In the example of “Martha” discussed in this article, she was angry and frustrated due to her caregiving responsibilities.

In fact, Martha was so resentful that she couldn’t think of one positive thing about her situation that she could share with a friend; everything was negative.

Yelling at her mother is what made Martha happy.

Imagine!

But all is not lost.

No matter your current mindset, you can adopt and nurture a growth mindset, but you have to work.

Just knowing about the two mindsets discussed in this article should give you something to think about.

You can choose (or learn) to have a growth mindset that believes that you have changeable traits; that intelligence and talent are not fixed or unchangeable.

With your growth mindset, you believe that your abilities can be strengthened and developed if you work at them.

Think how much better your relationships will be for your efforts.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Three Secrets to Relieve Caregiver Stress

Three Secrets to Relieve Caregiver Stress

“There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.”

—Rosalyn Carter

Meet Rita:

“I am so f*****g stressed out and sick of my pathetic life. Sam is having a bad day, and I have been trying to get ahold of my son and daughter, but of course, no one answers my plea for help. I got his oxygen back up to ninety-seven. It was eighty this morning, and he was coherent. I really need a break—a few hours for just me, but that will never happen. This is not how I envisioned our retirement—sitting here, crying and feeling sorry for myself. I’m not even sure that is allowed. Please help me!”

Rita, a family caregiver, is experiencing major stress.

What can she do?

Research on the word “stress” yields 1,130,000,000 results.

Yes, over 1 billion searches at any given time on the word stress.

Why?

People worldwide are looking for answers to managing the emotional and physical strain of everyday living, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Family caregivers are especially affected due to being “on-call” 24/7 when caring for a loved one.

What Is a Caregiver and Who Are They?

According to Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA), a caregiver is an unpaid individual (for example, a spouse, a partner, or others) that helps with personal activities of daily living (ADLs) such as eating, bathing, toileting, dressing, and medical tasks.

Caregivers range in age from 18 and older. However, Boomers (born 1946-1964 and are now 55-75 years of age) or 39% provide the largest care percentage.

The percentage of women providing care ranges from 53-68%, according to the FCA.

The economic value of unpaid labor has steadily increased over the last decade, and in 2013 at $470 billion, the value of unpaid caregiving exceeded the value of paid home care.

According to AARP Caregiving in U.S. 2020 Research Report, today, 1 in 5 Americans (21.3 percent) are caregivers who provided care to an adult or child with special needs at some time in the past 12 months.

On a personal note, I, too was a caregiver to my dear husband for more than three years, including hospice at home.

What Is Caregiver Stress and Who Gets It?

Everyone undergoes stress.  The human body is designed to produce mental and physical responses to experiences or challenges (stressors) you have.

But caregivers report much higher stress levels than people who are not caregivers because they have little if any time for self-care, and consequently, they burn out.

As to who gets caregiver stress, this could be anyone.

However, more women caregivers say they have high-stress levels and related health problems than men caregivers. 

What Are the Signs of Caregiver Stress?

Anxiety or feeling frustrated and angry one minute and helpless the next is one sign of caregiver stress. But there are many others:

  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Withdrawal
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches or body aches
  • Exhaustion
  • Drinking or smoking
  • Health problems*

*Talk to your doctor about prolonged health issues as they can increase your risk for chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or arthritis.

Three Secrets to Relieve Caregiver Stress

Long-term caregiver stress can lead to serious health problems, including early death.

What Can You Do?

Secret No.1: Seek Respite Care and Support

I cared for my husband 24/7 for three years, including Hospice at Home. But I never asked for help outside of the required services.

I was so concerned that my husband should always be treated with dignity and respect that I barely let anyone touch him, other than the medical professionals.

And I wore myself out.

Please, do not make my mistake.

Ask for and accept help.

The word respite means: “a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant.”

—Oxford English Dictionary

Respite care can provide short-term relief from the day-to-day challenges you face.

You can request respite care for an afternoon, a few days, or weeks.

Respite care can be provided at home, in a healthcare facility, or at an adult day center.

Visit the National Respite locator service at www.archrespite.org/respitelocator  for a list of respite care providers in your area.

However, respite does not have to be formal but take many forms:

  • A minivacation
  • Asking a family member or friend to sit with your loved one for a few hours
  • Hiring a local daycare facility for several days’ care*
  • Asking a church member or someone from your community organization (volunteer) to sit with your loved one for a few hours

*Contact your local Area Agency on Aging organization for assistance with planning.

I joined an online support group for caregivers on Facebook, which was excellent to pick up helpful caregiver tips. We also shared stories and generally supported each other as we faced the same challenges.

Secret No. 2: Accept Your Limitations

Caregiving is hard work.

And some days, you will feel helpless because of your inability to ease the suffering or change your loved one’s circumstances.

The dangers of prolonged feelings of helplessness include:

  • Loss of self-confidence, which can lead to you giving up
  • Stress, which can cause headaches, stomachaches, high blood pressure, anxiety, ulcers, and heart attacks
  • Depression, which can lead to self-destructive behaviors, such as drugs, drinking, overeating, and weight gain
  • Aggression, which can result in violence toward another person
  • Burnout

So, you must be mindful of your limitations so as not to become hopelessly discouraged.

You can’t do it all.

In researching this article, I came across this quote:

“Whether we like it or not, each of us is constrained by limits on what we can do and feel. To ignore these limits leads to denial and eventually to failure. To achieve excellence, we must first understand the reality of the every day, with all its demands and potential frustrations.”

—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life

The first step to accepting your limitations is to ask for help, as discussed above in Secret #1: Seek Respite Care and Support.

Accept your limitations and find joy in helping your loved one within those limits.

Secret No. 3: Attend to Your Own Physical and Mental Health

Activity is needed.

Health professionals generally recognize that remaining physically and mentally active is important for physical and mental health.

Anyone whose health requires movement but who sits around regularly is going to become quite depressed.

The many benefits touted by regular exercise proponents include improved conditions of the heart and lungs, and other organs.

The oxygen that is delivered to the body cells through physical exercise improves circulation and overall health.

I know it can be tough when caring full time for a loved one, but devote a set amount of time each day to exercise, preferably at the same time every day. You don’t need a gym.

A few ideas:

  • Walking briskly
  • Swimming
  • Jumping rope
  • Dancing
  • Cycling
  • Gardening can also help

*Be sure to check with your doctor before engaging in strenuous activities.

Or, find a YouTube video that’s fun.

I follow along daily with two different line dancing exercise routines on YouTube.

According to Mayo Clinic, there is no question that regular exercise and physical activity can:

  • Give you an emotional lift
  • Improve your mood
  • Boost energy
  • Promote better sleep
  • Strengthen bones
  • Protect your joints
  • Prevent bladder control problems
  • Ward off memory loss
  • Keep your weight under control

Your mental health is just as important as physical health.

You can start with getting enough sleep, as getting too little can make it difficult to make decisions.

But mental well-being is having peace of mind, contentment, happiness, and joy.

Loneliness can harm your mental health.

Ideas to protect your mental well-being:

  • Connect with other people:
  • Join a book club
  • Volunteer
  • Get involved in community activities
  • Take a class
  • Accept invitations
  • Adopt an animal
  • Practice forgiveness and acceptance
  • Practice gratitude
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Meditate and pray
  • Practice journaling

These practices support mental health and help manage stress.

There’s a myth that caregiving is depressing and hard work.

The fact: Caregiving can bring joy and be very rewarding. I wouldn’t change my experiences caring for my husband full-time. I had those precious last days with him that I’ll always treasure in my heart.

I’m grateful that I had the strength to care for him myself, including hospice at home. If I could do it all over again, minus the awful pain my dear husband suffered, I’d gladly do so to have him with me.

Caregiver stress can be brutal and debilitating.

But if you follow these Three Secrets to Reduce Caregiver Stress: Seek Respite Care and Support, Accept Your limitations, and Attend to Your Own Physical and Mental Health, you’ll find the rewards of caregiving far outweigh the pain.

You’ll discover your caregiving days less stressful and more joyful.

You will have peace.

Perennial Women: Pay Court to an Attractive and Healthy Body from Home

Perennial Women: Pay Court to an Attractive and Healthy Body from Home

“Yoga is invigoration in relaxation. Freedom in routine. Confidence through self-control. The energy within and energy without.”

—Seattle Yoga News

Some of the best basketball players in the NBA today are the biggest proponents of using Yoga to improve the game.

LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neil, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kevin Love, and Blake Griffin, to name a few of the NBA stars that love Yoga.

Players in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) also use Yoga’s fluidity to recharge their energy.

Imagine—a merger of basketball and Yoga.

Who would have thought?

Yet, it’s true!

Whether you’re 25 or 70, men and women who want to gain mastery over their health and vitality turn to basketball and Yoga.

You’ll find numerous YouTube videos demonstrating Yoga for basketball players.

Why?

Health Benefits of Basketball

Basketball is a fun sport that adults of all ages can enjoy, and the health benefits are many:

  • Burn calories (weight management)
  • Build endurance and increase energy levels
  • Improve balance, coordination, and agility
  • Develop concentration and self-discipline
  • Build up muscle tone and strength

Getting your heart rate up and using all major muscle groups during basketball drills offers a perfect fitness combination.

When you practice favorite moves for basketball players during your exercise routine, your brain will release “feel good” hormones, such as dopamine and endorphins, and improve stress.

A Yoga Story From the WNBA

Have you heard of Bridget Pettis, retired Assistant Coach for the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) team Chicago Sky?

Nor had I before researching this article.

Pettis is a native of East Chicago and Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame member that said of her role in sports history, “It was humbling to be part of the beginning of the WNBA and helping make it the greatest stage for women’s professional basketball.”

Bridget Pettis played in eight WNBA seasons, was a Mercury Assistant Coach from 2006-2009, and Director of Basketball Operations from 2010-2013.

Pettis expressed that though she experienced many successes during her career, in 2008, she “experienced a ‘disconnection’ within herself as she struggled to make sense of life.”

It was during this time of detachment that she discovered Yoga.

Pettis found Yoga as a way to “translate her anxiety to calm and stillness.”

Bridget Pettis found her peace.

She credits her training as a WNBA player and Ashtanga yogi as preparation for the stage in her career as an Assistant Coach, which shaped her life.

For Coach Pettis, there is no separating the two worlds of basketball and Yoga.

Pettis retired from the WNBA in 2019.

Combine Yoga Moves with Basketball

Combine basketball drills and Yoga moves to give you a lean, flexible, heart-healthy, and super-fit body.

Yoga is the Sanskrit word for union.

Yoga is both spiritual and physical.

Yoga uses breathing techniques, exercises, and meditation to help improve health and happiness.

A person doing Yoga will move from one posture to another.

Although not considered aerobic exercise, some research finds it can be just as good as aerobic exercise for improving health.

7 Top Benefits of Restorative (Gentle) Yoga

  1. Reduces stress
  2. Improves quality of life
  3. Promotes sleep quality
  4. Introduces positivity
  5. Improves flexibility
  6. Reduces chronic pain
  7. Fights depression

Practice Basketball at Home

You don’t need a gym or a wide-open space to practice basketball drills.

You can do great basketball drills at Home in your driveway or garage.

You can even do drills from inside your house.

Examples:

  • Tip drill
  • Around the World
  • Figure eight
  • Goblet squat
  • Front-lunge pass
  • Side-to-side twists
  • Sit-up to toes

Yoga to Lose Weight

Active, intense Yoga styles help you burn the most calories, which may help prevent weight gain.

The “Big Three” for Weight Loss:

Ashtanga
Bikram
Vinyasa

These Big Three styles of “power” Yoga are challenging and intense; energetic, synchronizing breath with movements.

While restorative or gentle Yoga isn’t an exceedingly physical type of Yoga, it still helps in weight loss.

One study found that restorative Yoga effectively helped overweight women lose weight, including abdominal fat.

Ordinary health-conscious women of all ages are amazed at the positive overall results to their physical and mental well-being when they use basketball and Yoga.

Sixty-three-year-old Sara K. couldn’t believe how combining basketball and Yoga helped her have more energy after a long day at the office:

“My usual routine after arriving home from work was to flop in the lounge chair and put my feet up. I wanted to put a sign on my chest that read, ‘Do Not Disturb.’ But now, I grab my basketball after changing clothes, sprint to the driveway, and practice dribbles for about 30 minutes. Me! At my age!! But I’ve never had so much fun! After my basketball ‘workout,’ I get my Yoga mat. I can target all of the areas I just used and stretch all of the muscles I just worked out—this aids in bringing my heart rate back down. Then, I shower and am ready for dinner. I feel relaxed but not tired. I have so much energy that I usually put in another two or three hours at my computer before bed. And I feel great!”

Barbara H. is also having a blast with basketball and Yoga:

“To say my job is stressful is an understatement. As a woman and newly appointed V.P., I get it from all sides. I have to put in the requisite 60-hour workweek and manage a household with a husband and three kids. How do you spell e-x-h-a-u-s-t-i-o-n?! Enter basketball. This everyday routine has been a lifesaver—literally. The pattern my family has set of practicing basketball drills offers something for my entire family. My husband, the kids, and I do basketball drills and practice hoops in the driveway. And because I’m such a good sport, from time to time, my husband (but not the kids!) joins me on the Yoga mat! How cool is that? Now we have something the entire family can enjoy. And I get to do something that not only energizes me at the end of an exhausting day but supports me mentally as well. I feel good!”

If you’re looking for fast, easy, and lasting ways to improve your health, Ladies, join the Yoga-hybrid fitness craze.

Combine the benefits of basketball drills and Yoga moves to help you build excellent strength, flexibility, and overall health.

Don’t put off your decision to have a healthy mind and body one more day!!

Why not start today?!

“Yoga is the fountain of youth. You’re only as young as your spine is flexible.”

—Bob Harper
How to Win the War Against Obesity in Three Steps

How to Win the War Against Obesity in Three Steps

“We must not constantly talk about tackling obesity and warning people about the negative consequences of obesity. Instead, we must be positive—positive about the fun and benefits to be had from healthy living, trying to get rid of people’s excuses for being obese by tackling the issue in a positive way.”

—Andrew Lansley

Meet Agnes:

“It is not pleasant when you have to listen to snide and unkind remarks about your appearance. People think that you are a lazy person. They do not realize that obesity can have many causes.

“I believe in my case, the problem could partially be due to hereditary factors, since most in my family have a weight problem.”

Agnes has a point.

There are many reasons why some people gain weight.

Often, obesity results from inherited factors, combined with the environment and personal eating habits, and inactivity.

But all is not lost.

You can win the war against obesity if you so desire.

In this article, I discuss:

  • Symptoms
  • Causes
  • Susceptibility
  • Consequences
  • Prevention (in three steps + strategies for reaching your wellness goals)

Symptoms

How to Know If You’re Obese

According to the Mayo Clinic, you’re obese if you have a body mass index (BMI) over 30.

To figure out your BMI, multiply your weight in pounds by 705, divide the result by your height in inches, then divide that by your height in inches again. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds and are six feet tall, your BMI is 27 (200×705÷72÷72=27).

Or you can divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared.

But you’ll find an excellent tool on Calculator.net where you plug in your age, gender, height, and weight and get instant results of your BMI and how much weight you should lose, if any, to be within a healthy range. https://www.calculator.net

Perhaps you’ll want to see a doctor for suggestions or confirmation of your status.

Causes

There’s a lot of research on human genes and obesity.

Many experts call obesity a disease, say it is in the genes, is inherited, and that the body has a set point for a weight that may destine you to fatness.

But not all scientists agree on the theories of obesity.

According to one source:

“Sophisticated techniques are being used to identify genes that predispose people to weight gain and diseases like diabetes. In scientific parlance, 25 percent to 40 percent of the variability in population body weight can be explained by genes.

“But still 60 percent or more of the influence can be attributed to environment.”

In other words, a significant factor in obesity is still a person’s lifestyle.

Overeating is a simple reason for obesity.

“Although there are genetic, behavioral, metabolic, and hormonal influences on body weight, obesity occurs when you take in more calories than you burn through exercise and normal daily activities. Your body stores these excess calories as fat.”

(Source: The Mayo Clinic Staff)

Susceptibility

Are you more or less likely to become obese?

Risk factors or susceptibility to obesity include the following:

  • The genes you inherit from your parents and cultural norms. Often, obesity run in families. But not just because of the genes you share, but family members sometimes share similar eating and activity habits.
  • Unhealthy diet. High-calorie meals and fast food, not enough vegetables and fruit, sugared drinks, and so forth.
  • Sedentary lifestyle. You sit too much. Not only would you gain weight, but prolonged sitting puts you in danger of several health risks: heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), kidney disease, and anxiety. You will burn calories through exercise and daily activities.
  • Some medications. These medications include some antidepressants, diabetes, and antipsychotic medications. You’ll need to compensate through more exercise and a better diet to avoid gaining weight.
  • Social circle. Are your friends obese? They may influence you to eat more and develop obesity.
  • Economic issues. Do you lack grocery stores in your neighborhood that give access to healthy foods? Or do you feel unsafe walking or jogging along your streets or in the park?
  • Age. Obesity is associated with an increased risk of falling in older adults. According to a 2018 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), “Falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide. Adults older than 65 years of age suffer the greatest number of fatal falls.” Yet, WHO estimates obesity in ages 60 years and older at 37.5% in men and 39.4% in females. Because the amount of muscle mass in the body tends to decrease as we age, which leads to a decrease in metabolism, older adults need fewer calories. So, if the aged don’t consciously control what they eat and engage in more physical activities, they’ll gain weight.
  • Stress. What happens when we’re stressed? We eat! And when we use food to relax or comfort us, it’s likely to be high-calorie, high-carbohydrate meals or snacks = weight gain.
  • Lack of sleep. Your sleep habits—not getting enough or getting too much—may cause changes in hormones that, in turn, increase your appetite. You’ll gain weight if you eat foods high in calories or carbohydrates.

Consequences

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity increases the potential to develop many severe health problems:

  • COVID-19: Obesity and excess weight increase severe illness risk
  • All-causes of death (mortality)
  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems
  • Many types of cancer
  • Low quality of life
  • Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders
  • Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning
  • Digestive problems (heartburn, gallbladder disease, and liver problems)
  • Gynecological and sexual issues (infertility and irregular periods in women; erectile dysfunction in men)

Also, as listed above, your quality of life diminishes.

Issues related to your quality of life include:

  • Discrimination (won’t get hired)
  • Depression (unhappiness, feelings of hopelessness)
  • Shame and guilt (lower self-esteem)
  • Social isolation (we’ve all heard the “fat” jokes)
  • Lower work achievement (no motivation; lower pay)

Prevention

There are three steps to prevent weight gain:

Step 1: Daily Exercise

Here are the best 8 exercises for weight loss:

  1. Walking
  2. Jogging or running (or jump roping)
  3. Cycling
  4. Weight training
  5. Interval training
  6. Swimming
  7. Yoga
  8. Pilates

(Source: www.healthline.com)

You will also find numerous weight-loss workout ideas on www.Youtube.com.

Step 2: A Healthy Diet

My No. 1 Recommendation: The Mayo Clinic Diet

On this site, you’ll find personalized meal plans, recipes, and motivational lifestyle tips.

You will also be able to track your progress with interactive tools, such as the Mayo Clinic iPhone app, food & fitness journals, plus a personalized exercise program.

*Note:
Individuals should consult with their physician before adopting any exercise or diet regimen.

Step 3: A Long-Term Commitment

It’s all about planning, which is the third and final step to winning the fight against obesity.

When you have a lot of weight to lose, you must play the long game.

You will face challenges along the way.

Here are 9 tips to help you stay on track:

  1. Set realistic weight loss goals. One or two pounds a week.
  2. Use an app. As I noted above, the iPhone used at Mayo Clinic’s weight loss program can help you be honest with yourself by allowing you to track what you eat and how much. But there also other apps, such as My Fitness Pal, to help you track fitness goals.
  3. Eat a high-protein breakfast. You are more likely to maintain a level blood sugar and not feel as hungry at lunch.
  4. Drink plenty of water. The benefits are many. Water is essential to physical and emotional well-being and our appearance. Water is vital for transporting nutrients within our bodies and for removing wastes.
  5. Eat more fruits and vegetables. You will not feel as hungry because nutrient-rich foods will give you a feeling of fulness.
  6. Enjoy your favorite foods. Buy one cookie instead of a box.
  7. Have a plan before eating out. Read the menu before you go, have a healthy snack, drink water before and during your meal.
  8. Monitor your weight regularly. I weigh myself daily, but most experts recommend to consider at least once a week. That way, you can tell whether your efforts are working and help you notice small weight gains before they become big problems.
  9. Get a buddy to join you. It can be tough to go it alone.

Finally, be realistic. Breaking habits and improving your diet is not easy.

According to WebMD.com, you will start to see health benefits when you’ve lost 5%-10% of your body weight.

Note what a few had to say after reaching their weight-loss goals:

Julie: “My doctor put me on a strict regimen of exercise and controlled portions of meals. I began to walk three miles nonstop every day, and I got up early each morning to exercise.

“I had to reeducate myself regarding my eating and drinking habits. I eliminated junk food and cut back on bread and sodas, replacing them with more fruit and vegetables. Now my weight is down from 206 pounds to 164 pounds.

“I still have several pounds to go, but I couldn’t be happier!”

Cynthia: “I feel that I’m healthier and that I am living again. Before, it was as if my life were on hold, as if I were stagnating. Another benefit is that I have been able to drop the medications for high blood pressure. And I feel that I can look people in the eye, knowing that there will be no implied criticism because of excess weight.”

Bonnie: “I went to the doctor, and he strongly recommended that, at 178 pounds, I start losing weight. He sent me to a nutritionist for counsel. The nutritionist explained the whys and wherefores of the regimen I was to follow.

“She showed me how to limit my portions and how to keep a check on what I was eating. At first, I had to report to her each week; and later, each month, to show how I was doing.

“Both the doctor and nutritionist encouraged me for the good progress I was making. Eventually, I lost 27 pounds, and I am holding my own at about 150 pounds.”

What will be your success story?

How will you feel after reaching your weight goal?

When will you get started?

“Weight loss doesn’t begin in the gym with dumbbells; it starts in your head with a decision.”

—Toni Sorenson