The month of September is National Childhood Obesity Month. According to the Center for Disease and Prevention, approximately 1 in 6 children between the age of 2-19 are considered obese. Childhood obesity can lead to various health complications including Diabetes, heart disease, and can also increase your chance of being injured with activity.
The topic of childhood obesity hits close to home, as growing up as an adolescent, I struggled significantly with my weight. There are many obstacles to consider when trying to overcome obesity from a physical, mental, and emotional perspective. Speaking from personal experience, trying to lose weight was such a daunting task. As hard I tried, it just seemed like a never ending battle.
I would always watch infomercials and look for that shortcut. I would try and find the easy way out to lose weight, but at the end of the day, none of the gimmicks worked. The truth is, losing weight means committing to changing your lifestyle. There is no easy solution and that’s what makes overcoming obesity so much more worth it. For me, what really changed my life was deciding that I did not want to live a life where I had to deal with diabetes, high-blood pressure, and other health complications. I wanted to be able to be around family and friends, and eventually have a family of my own where I could be actively involved.
How I changed my life was committing to exercise. It wasn’t easy and it started off real slow. I ran a half mile to start, and I walked the other half for a total of 12 minutes of exercise. That was it. What was different this time as opposed to all the other times I had tried was that I committed to exercising every single day. With each week, I increased my exercise to being able to run a mile, to eventually two, to eventually four miles a day.
Exercising became a part of my normal routine, and instead of finding time for exercise, I made time for exercise. I planned my day around my exercise, instead of trying to fit exercise into my day. It became my top priority because I knew that having more energy and being physically fit meant being able to be more productive. Exercise changed my life and became my passion, which has lead me to a career in physical therapy.
Ultimately, you have to make the decision of when you are ready to make a change. Personally, I think if you do decide to make a change, do it for yourself. Having an intrinsic reason to change is better than having extrinsic reasons, and you are more likely to be successful if you are motivated by intrinsic factors. Commit to making a change because you are worth it!
In terms of advice, here are a few tips to help get you started!
- Focus on large body movements like walking, biking, or swimming, as these activities will burn more calories.
- Start slow, and find an activity that you enjoy. Grab a friend to keep you accountable and to make exercise more fun.
- Find at least 10 minutes a day dedicated to exercise. The goal is to eventually progress to 30-60 minutes of exercise, but start slow. Work your way up so you don’t get burned out.
- Spot training is not effective. Performing a lot of crunches and sit-ups will not reduce the size of your abdomen. Again, focus on large body movements.
Best of luck to you on your journey! Remember, it is a journey so embrace the process so you can better enjoy the end result!
Written by Dr. Kevin Do, PT. Read more about him here