Obesity Health Risks and How to Begin Your Weight Loss Journey

Obesity is preventable, yet obesity rates continue to grow at alarming rates worldwide without a single country uncovering a way to reverse the increasing percentages. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the world’s obesity numbers have nearly tripled since 1975. In fact, a WHO study involving 188 countries worldwide concluded that 39% of all adults 18 years or older (1.9 billion) are overweight and 650 million adults fall in the obese category.

That said, prevention and weight loss are easy when you have the right guidance and support. Before we talk about weight loss, let’s define obesity.

A definition

To fall into the obese group of weight classification, a person typically has a body mass index (BMI) of over 30. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters. For example, a person who weighs 90 kilograms (198 pounds) and is 1.6 meters tall (5 feet, 5 inches) has a BMI of 35. Here are additional BMI classifications:

  • Severely underweight BMI: 15-16
  • Underweight BMI: 15-18.5
  • Normal/healthy BMI: 18.5-25
  • Overweight BMI: 25-30
  • Obese BMI: 30-35
  • Severely obese BMI: 35-40

It’s important to remember that BMI isn’t the only indicator of health as it doesn’t account for things like muscle mass, water weight, hormone imbalances, or specific conditions. So, why do we use it? The body mass index was initially thought up by a Belgian scientist, Adolphe Quetelet, in the 19th century. Quetelet wanted to find a way to quantify the amount of tissue (muscle, fat, and bone) in an individual to determine which weight classification they fall under. Over the years, there has been some debate around whether BMI is the best way to measure healthy weight, but studies show it’s quite reliable when it comes to determining if a person is underweight, overweight or obese.

Health risks of obesity

There are a number of health risks associated with obesity. For example, individuals classified as being underweight have a greater risk of developing problems such as nutrient deficiencies and osteoporosis. Overweight individuals have a moderate risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. Those who fall into the obese BMI category have an even higher risk of developing those same conditions.

Additional obesity health risks include:

  • Bone and joint disease (osteoarthritis)
  • Certain cancers
  • Gout
  • Asthma (and other breathing problems)
  • Sleep apnea (and other sleep conditions)
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Reduced mobility
  • Postural imbalance
Important note:
BMI ranges and associated health risks differ slightly from country to country based on trends seen in those populations. For example, individuals of Asian descent have a greater risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease and diabetes than Caucasians with the same BMI number.

In addition to causing your own body a great deal of stress, obesity can also cause financial stress. A journal published by Stanford Health Care states that health risks associated with obesity and obesity-related conditions cost over 150 billion dollars and cause an estimated 300,000 premature deaths in the U.S. alone each year. But, how did we get here?

Obesity causes

The fundamental cause of obesity can be seen as a general imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. In layman’s terms, that means that if an individual consumes more calories than they burn throughout the day. There are some reasons this is taking place, one being that we consume more energy-dense foods (high-calorie foods) and another being that we move less. With modern society being what it is — technology, modern transportation, office life —  we have increasingly sedentary lifestyles.

Nutrition and exercise for obese beginners

What’s positive about this all is that obesity can be preventable and also reversible. With more activity, a calorie-conscious and whole-foods based diet, and healthy lifestyle, almost everyone can improve health issues brought on by the extra weight. The key to success is to start by making small, sustainable changes — it’s the 8fit way.

8fit meal plans for weight loss

We advise that you start by taking a look at what you’re eating. Are you consuming a lot of processed and packaged foods? Do you stop at the fast food restaurant or order take-out on your way home from work? Are juice and soda always your drinks of choice? First things first, make water your new best friend. Then, swap unhealthy processed snacks for fresh fruits combined with nuts and veggies combined with hummus. Next, focus on swapping an unhealthy grab-and-go meal with a homemade healthy one. We suggest beginning with breakfast. The 8fit recipe book is full of nutritious, simple breakfasts that’ll keep you full until lunch.

Once you begin to eat more high-quality, wholesome foods and less junk food, you’ll notice increased energy levels and maybe a change on the scale or in body composition. So, what’s next? We advise that you dive head-first into your 8fit meal plan to get a handle on calories in versus calories out. 8fit takes factors like your goal, starting weight and activity level into consideration when calculating the total calories in each of your meals. We do this so that you don’t have do meticulously count calories or measure ingredient amounts. Relax knowing that, as long as you follow your meal plan and recipes, you’ll reach your goals.

Time to start moving

After healthy eating becomes routine, it’s time to start moving. Take small steps like parking further away from the store entrance, taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work, getting off the metro one stop early to get extra steps in, going for a 20-minute walk after lunch every day — whatever makes sense for you. Walking more will help elevate your heart rate and prepare you for more intense exercise. Start by just increasing the amount of walking you do, then add 20 to 30-minute brisk walks to your routine three or four times per week, eventually increasing to five times per week.

Now that you’re eating better and moving more, it’s time for your first 8fit workout. 8fit workouts are in the style of HIIT which are suitable for all levels. HIIT is short for high-intensity interval training, but don’t be intimidated by the “high-intensity” part — everyone’s intensity levels are different depending on their activity level and strength. When you do a HIIT workout, you exercise at your maximum effort. That means a beginner and an athlete can do the same HIIT workout and achieve results. Like walking, start by doing about three HIIT per week, before increasing to four or five. Like the 8fit meal plan, you barely need to do any thinking or planning. Just select the next workout in your app.

Not ready for the app? Here is a HIIT workout to try:

Round 1

  • High knees or jog in place – 20 seconds
  • Rest – 10 seconds
  • Repeat 8 times

 

  • Squats – 20 seconds
  • Rest – 10 seconds
  • Repeat 8 times

 

5 ways to start your wellness journey

No matter where you fall on the weight classification scale, it’s always a good time to start eating better and moving more. If you’re struggling with your weight, remember to be patient with your body and focus on making lifestyle changes instead of fixating on quick, dramatic results.

Here’s a list of the tips we discussed above:

  1. Drink more water. Cut soda and juice out the picture.
  2. Make healthy swaps in your diet. Begin by snacking better, cooking homemade breakfast, and drinking more water.
  3. Add more movement to your day with simple changes. It’s easy to move more if you park far away, take the stairs, schedule afternoon walks, or get off the bus one stop early.
  4. Walk more. One of the easiest and simplest beginner’s workouts is walking!
  5. Start a workout plan. 8fit’s HIIT workouts are quick, effective and delivered in a manageable fitness plan.

These small steps are steps in the right direction. Along the journey, know you’re not alone. The entire 8fit team has your back, and there is a fantastic community of 8fitters out there to support you. Sign up for 8fit and become your healthiest self.