A new report shows obesity rates still on the rise:
Recently, a new RWJF (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)- supported report from Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) stated that not only are we a nation with a significant obesity problem, but that despite what we know about ways to address the issue, obesity rates are still increasing. The study found that over the past year, obesity levels rose in 31 states and no state showed a decline. This disturbing trend is happening despite the large amount of media coverage and focus on weight-loss that exists in our society. Many of us know what we could do, should do or what is best to do. However, doing it at all, not to mention with consistency, is the challenge!
Does our focus on actual weight loss, rather than healthy lifestyle choices, perpetuate the obesity trend? We are constantly bombarded with guaranteed ways to lose weight fast. Most of these short term solutions do very little to help people build a healthier lifestyle, so people see long term results. Most diets are based on depriving yourself in ways that feel punishing, rigid or difficult to maintain. They feel too hard or complicated to do over time.
I learned a simple truth a long time ago in social work school:
- In order to make lasting change, people need to feel it is important to do AND that they can do it.
- If you don’t think it is important and you don’t think you can do it, you don’t even try.
- If you think it’s important but you can’t do it, you become discouraged.
- If you think it isn’t important, but you could do it if you wanted to, then you lack motivation.
- ONLY when sense of importance and a feeling of capability work together can it get done.
However, there is one other key ingredient needed to make lasting changes. Without it, you go back to your old habits. In order to actually reinforce the change, you need to have clarity about your desired outcome and the focus to maintain your attention on the actions needed to get there. Without attention to goals and purpose of an action, we lose our intention. Wherever attention goes, intention follows. Without a way to remind ourselves regularly of all the compelling reasons to take better care of ourselves, we easily backslide. The tendency to return to the habits we know and are comfortable with is always there. Life may not be better with our unhealthy habits, but it sure can seem easier to handle. Eating familiar unhealthy food feels comforting. Watching a show takes a lot less effort than exercising. BUT…If you keep your focus on how healthy food choices and exercise add fulfillment to your life, then maintaining your desired lifestyle changes is possible.
The way I was able to overcome my weight problem, continue to maintain a healthy weight and make consistently healthy food choices, was to practice "moving meditation" - mind focus and clarity building techniques, integrated with martial arts movements. This combination helps me continue to keep taking good care of myself without using negative motivators such as guilt or shame. Moving meditation keeps me aware and able to avoid falling into my “habit energy” or "default mode".
We need to give ourselves enough reasons to make a lasting shift to take care of ourselves and make healthy choices. A desired change has to be more appealing than staying with what we already know and do automatically. Support from loved ones, seeing positive examples, finding exercise you like, and availability of reasonably priced healthy food all help people feel more able and prepared to make the change. Doing a physical activity with mind and breath focused provides a way to keep your attention on your goals and maintain your clarity of purpose while you get there.
All the best!