Obesity is one of modern society’s most serious crises which, unfortunately, many people routinely ignore until it is too late. But what exactly is obesity? Obesity is a disease where a person carries an unhealthy amount of weight through the excessive accumulation of body fat.
It is one of the leading global health problems and a significant contributor to illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancers. There are many causes of obesity, some of which are within our control and others which are not. The type and amount of food we eat and how often we exercise are examples of what we can control. Our genetics, on the other hand, is an example of what is beyond our control.
Being obese is not only a burden to yourself but also your family and community. So what can you do to rein in runaway obesity? Well, you have to know where you are before you can create a plan to get to where you want to be. Let’s start by listing down some methods on how to analyze your current body fat percentage.
Ways to Find Out Your Body Fat Percentage
1. Body Fat Monitors
A commonly used device to determine body fat is the bioelectrical impedance body fat monitor. Such devices usually require you to input your weight, height, age, and current bodyweight information when setting up. You will then hold the device with both hands extended in front of you before pressing a button. The monitor will proceed to transmit a low voltage current, after which the test’s results will appear on the screen moments later. We recommend that you do the test a minimum of three times and average the results for a more accurate reading.
This reading is then compared with the body mass index (BMI) chart (this can be easily found online). BMI is how we determine whether a person is underweight, optimal weight, overweight, or obese. The BMI is simply a bodyweight to height ratio, often expressed as bodyweight to height (squared). These charts, while generally accurate, tend to unfairly portray those with a higher muscle-to-bodyweight ratio.
2. Body Fat Calipers
Measuring body fat percentage using body fat calipers is another method for gauging obesity. These calipers are usually inexpensive tools that you can buy online. Body fat measurements are taken on both the upper and lower torso, with the tests conducted over several days and the results recorded. They are then averaged to arrive at an accurate body fat level. Note that it is important to standardize all your tests for accuracy purposes.
3. Water Displacement Method
Measuring body fat using this method requires that the necessary resources be available. The benefit is that measuring using water displacement tends to be more accurate than body fat monitors and skin calipers. The process is as follows.
You will first have your weight taken by standing on a scale on dry land. There will usually be a qualified personnel to assist you. You will then have your weight taken inside a pool of water, with air fully exhaled from your lungs. The difference in weight between the two tests is your body fat amount, converted to percentage form.
Strategies for Combating Obesity
With your body fat percentage in hand, you will now be able to realistically set your health goals. No matter what these goals are, they will involve only things that are within your influence. This involve three aspects: nutrition, physical activities, and recovery.
We have highlighted the importance of nutrition numerous times on this website, such as in this healthy eating habit article. Most if not all adults can differentiate between what is healthy food and what is junk food. The problem arises when you are unable to control what you put inside your mouth. The increasing availability of low nutrition fast foods in our modern society only compounds this problem.
You do not need a rocket science degree to understand healthy eating. In fact, you can start eating healthy right now. Begin by making small changes to your diet. Replace that can of sweetened soda with a glass of homemade juice. Reduce that portion of chocolate cheesecake by 1/3. Make your diet more colorful by adding a variety of vegetables. If you do this consistently and mindfully over the long term, you will find your cravings for unhealthy foods becoming less frequent.
Keep in mind that healthy eating is not about deprivation because depriving yourself of food that you enjoy will only increase your cravings for them. Rather, it is about making sure that you eat healthy the majority of the time while still being able to occasionally enjoy a slice of pizza or two.
2. Physical Activities
You have probably heard about the numerous health benefits that a regular exercise routine can provide both physically and mentally. You also have made excuses not to exercise for various reasons. But do you know that there are exercises that you can do in 15 minutes or less every day and still reap the benefits?
There are different types of exercises available to suit a person’s preferences. Walking, jogging, and hiking are examples of easy-to-do exercises that require little time investment. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is another alternative that requires only a minimal amount of time but can bring about tons of benefits. Simply choose whichever type of physical activity it is that you enjoy and commit to doing it regularly.
It doesn’t matter how good your diet is or how much you exercise if you don’t give your body the chance to recuperate. In other words, you need to have consistent, high quality sleep each night even during the weekends. You should never underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep no matter how busy you are. This is because sleep is like your vehicle’s lubricant – it makes everything work harmoniously by reducing friction.
Here are some articles to get you started on creating the sleep quality that you deserve:
- The Science Behind a Good Night’s Sleep
- How to Create Your Perfect Sleeping Environment
- Seven Commandments of a Good Night’s Sleep
It will likely be difficult for you to completely overhaul your lifestyle overnight (unless something major happens). It is therefore recommended that you just do your best in making minor changes one step at at time in the three aspects above. A consistent and persistent focus on achieving your weight goals will result in a big difference over the long term.
If Not Now, When?
The high price of inaction when it comes to tackling obesity should never be taken lightly. These can include, aside from the health issues already mentioned, low self-esteem, feeling like an outsider in your social circles, and being made fun of by others.
It is important to know that you do not have to tackle this issue alone. You can seek help from your family and friends too. Joining various clubs or societies of people who are dealing with a similar issue is another possibility. Always know that seeking others for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Obesity can reach extreme levels for some people whereby it becomes nearly impossible to treat without medical intervention in the form of surgery. We highly recommend that you seek out a qualified health care professional if you fall into this category of people to determine the best course of action.