Your Home Checklist for Making Weight Loss Successful
Is your home weight-loss friendly? If not, you could be setting yourself up for failure in your efforts to shed some pounds.
We all know the statistics – in the United States, more than two-thirds of adults are considered to be either overweight or obese. We also know the consequences of carrying the extra weight, including cardiovascular disease (especially heart disease and stroke), type 2 diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis, and a higher risk of some cancers (especially breast and colon).
Losing weight is hard, there is no denying that. So many of us fail not because we aren’t at least somewhat knowledgeable about “how” to lose weight (ie: eat less, move more), but because we have challenges and obstacles in our daily lives that get in the way of our success.
Recently, in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers published a study that evaluated the home environment of overweight and obese participants to determine what helped and what harmed efforts toward weight loss. After all, studies have shown that most of our calories are consumed within the home, so interventions that target home-life behaviors should help us be more successful toward reaching our goal weights.
Here is just some of what the team found:
• Take a look in your pantry. Count the number of packaged snack foods and the number of sugar-containing beverages you have. If you have more than 3 unhealthy drinks (ie: soda, sweetened tea, chocolate beverages) and more than 8 items of low nutritional value (chips, cakes, candy), you are less likely to succeed in weight loss. Get them out of the house! Do not save them for your kids, grandkids, guests, etc. If they are there, you are more likely to eat them!
• On the other hand, if you buy fresh fruit and vegetables to snack on, how readily available are they? Place a fruit bowl on the kitchen table in plain view. Clean and cut vegetables such as carrots and celery into sticks for easy access. Put these in the fridge at eye level so you are more likely to grab it when you are hungry. Create individual servings in plastic ware or baggies for the perfect “grab and go” when you are rushed.
• Where do you eat most of your meals? Research shows that when you sit down at a table and focus on your food, you will eat less. If you are eating “distracted” (watching TV, working on a computer), you will mindlessly eat more calories than you intend. Also, remember that families that eat together are more likely to eat more healthfully.
• Speaking of TV, computers and video games – do you set a limit on how long you use these devices? If you don’t, you are more likely to be too sedentary. It’s time to get up and move – burn off those calories. Remember that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 or 2 hours a day at the most. Use your free time for reading or hobbies. In addition to being mentally stimulating, they also keep your hands busy and less likely to snack on junk food.
• If you have exercise equipment at home, where is it? If you keep a treadmill in the basement or garage, how likely are you to use it? If it is in your bedroom, has it become a coat rack? Place your exercise equipment in a visible location (so it will remind you to actually use it) and ensure it isn’t blocked from use. Create a pleasant workout environment – not too hot or cold, have water nearby for hydration, and put something motivating in the area such as mantras or a reminder of your goals.
• How about your yard? Have you created space outside your home to make it more friendly toward physical activity? Remember that exercise isn’t only about running or doing sit-ups. Play horseshoes or cornhole in the backyard, set up a basketball hoop or a volleyball net. If you have kids, do they have a fun and safe place to play?
You can be successful in your weight loss efforts if you remove the obstacles toward eating more healthfully and getting in more activity. Check out your own home environment and start making small steps today.
Kegler MC, Haardorfer R, Alcantara IC, et al. Impact of improving home environments on energy intake and physical activity: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Public Health 2016; 106:143-52