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Achieving balance between mind and body is important no matter what healthcare problems you might be facing. Obesity, which today affects approximately 160 million Americans, is a prime example of the need to pursue holistic health in order to effect change. Many people who struggle with weight problems are frustrated by genetics, a poor muscle-to-fat ratio, and a stressful lifestyle that impacts their physical condition. Often, the first challenge to be faced is the need to make peace with one’s identity before committing to an exercise regimen that may or may not help you attain a healthy weight.
Look inward first
Before you launch into a diet-and-exercise program, meet with a mental health professional if you’re dealing with depression, anxiety or some other form of mental stress. A counselor can help you gain a better understanding of obstacles that may be preventing you from leading a healthier life. Bear in mind that obesity is frequently a symptom of depression, a potentially crippling mental disorder that requires the help of a qualified mental health provider.
The right routine
Most fitness experts will tell you you’re fighting a losing battle if you stay with an exercise routine you don’t like. If it doesn’t suit you, you’re much more likely to give a half-hearted effort that gets you nowhere. Settling on a regimen you enjoy and look forward to isn’t just important for helping you lose weight; it has ramifications for the rest of your life and your ability to stay healthy and avoid regaining the weight you lose. Consider whether an exercise approach you’re considering will work for your lifestyle and your physical condition. If you have joint pain in your knees, for example, a routine that emphasizes a lot of high-impact aerobics or running probably isn’t a great choice.
A good starting place
People with significant weight problems often struggle trying to figure out which exercises they should begin with, so getting started is often the hardest part. A good rule of thumb is to start with a low-impact cardio exercise like walking, swimming, or water aerobics. Do your cardio workout for 60 minutes a day (it doesn’t have to be all at once), taking care to warm up for a few minutes before starting. People who are eager to see results right away sometimes overdo it. Remember to go at your own pace, and stretch out thoroughly before and after each workout. Strength training is also a good way to get started. If you have a set of free weights, try a set of chest presses, shoulder presses and leg extensions. Try to do two or three strength sessions every week.
To save yourself time and hassle, consider setting up an inexpensive home gym where you can do your daily exercise in peace, privacy and comfort. Free weights and kettlebells can be purchased affordably at sporting goods stores or at outlets that offer used, second-hand workout equipment for less. Resistance bands, a yoga mat and a Swiss ball can help round out your personal exercise space.
It’s easy to let your newly-established habits derail when you’re traveling, but if you plan ahead, you can keep your momentum going no matter where you’re headed. One smart strategy is to stay in a rental home rather than a hotel so you have access to a full kitchen and can cook your own meals, which is a healthier (and less expensive) option than hitting the drive-through or splurging at a restaurant while you’re away. You may even be able to find a unit that has a home gym or that’s situated in a community that has a neighborhood fitness center, or you can bring your own portable equipment. Using a vacation rental site helps you narrow down your search by area and desired amenity so you can find a waist-friendly home to stay in (Austin has a lot of great options).
Remember that achieving a healthy weight and lifestyle is about mental and physical balance. Exercise is important, but don’t neglect your diet and need for sleep. Ultimately, your success will be determined by settling on a routine you really like and genuinely want to follow. And while change won’t happen overnight, as time goes on, you’ll start to notice a difference in how you feel mentally and physically, so be patient, and stay the course.
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