Overweight and obesity are global issues. Worldwide, more than 650 million individuals over the age of 18 were living with obesity in 2016 (1;2), and over 1.2 billion adults were classified as overweight (1). These groups represent folks who are at a greater risk of a variety of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and heart disease (1;3). People living with overweight or obesity may also find it more challenging to complete necessary or desired everyday activities (4). These impacts highlight the importance of achieving and/or maintaining a healthy weight. However, making this goal a reality is no easy feat. Click the links below for some tips that that can help you find success.
1. Consider changes to diet and exercise, using strategies that provide encouragement, and self-monitoring
When it comes to losing weight, research paints the picture that in adults who are classified as overweight, making changes to your diet alone is more beneficial than making changes to your exercise routine alone. But the best strategy is one that combines both diet and exercise (5). In terms of dietary patterns, there is some evidence that those who follow vegetarian diets can lose more weight than those who do not (6).
When it comes to maintaining weight, it appears several strategies may assist in holding off weight gain in adults, although no specific strategies can be suggested over others. Overall, diet changes such as following a low-fat diet or eating more fruits and vegetables, along with monitoring your heart rate while exercising and receiving reinforcement through text messages or group support may be beneficial (7).
2. “Live in the moment” with mindfulness training
Mindfulness training is a technique that emphasizes being aware of what you are thinking, feeling, and sensing, and of what is around you (8). Encouraging evidence shows that engaging in mindfulness activities can reduce impulsive eating and binge eating in adults with overweight or obesity. It can also help folks trying to increase their physical activity (9). If you are looking to “dip your toes” into mindfulness, a number of internet-based programs are available (10).
3. Seek support through lifestyle counselling programs
Sticking to changes you have made to your diet and exercise routine can be hard. The good news is you don’t have to go it alone. Research on behavioural lifestyle counselling programs, which often provide participants with in-depth guidance and support, reveals that behaviours around diet and exercise can be improved. What’s more, in adults who have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, positive effects can be seen on a variety of health outcomes, including body weight, blood sugar levels, cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes (11;12).
The importance of an interactive component within lifestyle programs is highlighted through additional research. This research found that online weight loss programs that provide personalized feedback can help overweight and obese adults lose more weight in the short-term than programs that do not offer this type of feedback (13).
If you are considering making changes to your diet or exercise routines, speak with your health care provider before you start. They will help you assess whether these changes are right for you or how to best go about applying them.
It is no secret that the road to achieving or maintaining a healthy weight can sometimes be a bumpy one, and that is okay. This is a long-term journey. Luckily, from diet and exercise to mindfulness training, there are several strategies that show promise in helping you attain results and overcome hurdles along the way.