Around this time of year, with holiday meals and snacks lying in wait around every corner, people start getting conscious about their waistlines.
America’s obesity crisis makes headlines every day. Here in Placer County, nearly a third of adults are obese. This of course can increase the risk of disease and early death.
Although most folks are aware of the dangers of being overweight or obese, committing to making real and lasting lifestyle changes is another matter altogether. Losing weight is a daunting challenge and one that can seem insurmountable.
Some people set themselves up for failure by trying to totally overhaul their diet, rather than making small and gradual changes that will be sustainable for them in the long-term. It’s important to find something that will work for you now and in the future, and to take one day at a time. One bad day, or bad week, isn’t reason to give up.
It can really help to team up with someone and find a cheerleader, a friend who you can be active with, who shares similar goals and can support you in moments where you might want to wave the white flag.
My colleague, Chris Hazen, a Placer County Public Health analyst, is a role model for lots of people in our department.
A few years back, with the stress of a move and job transition, he reached 270 pounds and decided he needed to make a change. Over the following 12 months, Chris lost 60 pounds. He has kept it off for years and in fact is down 70 pounds now.
Chris said getting control of his diet was key. He stopped eating out, started doing food prep on weekends, cut out soda and cheese, and began using a calorie-tracking app.
“I was surprised by how fast the calories added up,” Chris said.
But he also made sure he was setting goals that were realistic: rather than trying to cut out coffee completely, he settled on drinking it black.
Chris also devised a workout plan that fit into his schedule and that he wouldn’t get bored with.
“The best advice I could give is to find something that suits you. Not everyone wants to go to the gym,” he said. “Not everyone wants to run so find something that you like to do. Play basketball, kayak, hike, whatever it is, just do it.”
Thankfully, we live in an area where there are many different opportunities for physical activity and recreation, from beautiful hiking and running trails to excellent parks and rec facilities to water sports.
My personal favorites are hot yoga and skiing. To each their own, as long as it works for you!
And if and when you do reach your goal, don’t forget that you can inspire others.
Chris and a handful of our coworkers recently went to San Francisco and together completed the Spartan Race at Giants Stadium. Stairs, burpees, rope climbing — this race had it all. And our team completed it together, supporting one another the whole way.
Dr. Robert Oldham is Placer County’s public health officer. Call him at 530-889-7141.