How Obesity Can Limit Your Independence

July 3, 2018

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blog_july4With another blast of spectacular July 4th fireworks right around the corner celebrating our nation’s independence, it got us thinking about what independence means in terms of health and well-being. What does that feel like and what is the best way to get it? That, of course, that brought us back to the likely answer of weight loss. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is the key to unlocking the kind of personal independence and self-determination we all deserve to enjoy.

Sometimes it’s difficult to know if your personal independence is being compromised by your weight. The changes can be very gradual and subtle, so it’s important to know what to look for. Here are some clues to keep track of and ideas for freeing yourself from weight that can literally hold you down.

Free yourself from: Medications

Do you take prescriptions for conditions like high blood pressure or high cholesterol? Obesity is a primary contributor to those conditions. A 2018 study published by the European Heart Journal concluded that people suffering from obesity face a higher-than-average risk of over 50 different health problems. With each new ailment, comes new prescriptions and additional doctor visits, which can take away your freedom of time and money.

Without taking steps to lose weight, it’s likely you will continue to have a dependence on medication to manage your health. But by losing excess weight, you have a higher probability of freeing yourself from those prescriptions, either partially or completely. Of course your medical provider is the best person to make that determination, but your independence from medication can increase significantly by achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Free yourself from: Joint Pain

If you constantly feel extra pressure on your joints, it may be because you’re carrying extra weight. When it comes to the symptoms of obesity, this is usually one of the first to appear. Every extra 10 pounds of weight a person carries increases their risk of osteoarthritis by 40%. People suffering from obesity have an average of 3 times the pressure placed on their knees and hips, which can make it painful to walk. Without getting screened for obesity, you can’t know if you have it, but everyone can definitely feel the negative impact of carrying too much weight.

The good news is that, as you might guess, there is a straight-forward solution. , A 2018 study conducted by the American College of Rheumatology explained that a 10% reduction in weight can reduce pain by 50%. Just think about how free you would be to move without the pain holding you back.

Free yourself to: Get the sleep you need

While it may be relatively clear that carrying extra weight can affect your mobility, energy and health, did you know that carrying excess weight can also impact how well you sleep? A 2014 study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh found that the risk of sleeping disorders, including sleep apnea and insomnia, increases by 23% in adults suffering from obesity. The American Sleep Association recommends that adults get about 8 hours of sleep per night, though some may require up to 10. If you don’t get that quality sleep on a regular basis, it can create a terrible cycle of weight gain and lack of energy. We probably don’t have to explain what it feels like to feel tired all the time.

On the flip side, you probably can remember what a day was like after a great night’s sleep. There’s an energy that makes you feel like you can fly, like you can take on anything. How about feeling that way every day? Losing weight can help you get the sleep you need to free yourself to do more.

Free yourself from: Depression

Obesity doesn’t only inhibit your physical freedom, but can also make you feel mentally burdened. In 2009 research published by the International Journal of Obesity, it was indicated that people suffering from obesity consistently have lower self-esteem and a higher risk of depression compared to people with a healthy weight. If you have ever felt depressed, whether in the short-term or chronically, it can feel like you are trapped. You need to find some sort of release and relief.

While depression is a complex condition that should be treated by a professional, exercising and losing weight can help in the process of regaining your sense of light and freedom. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins, which improve your mood and can produce a euphoric, positive feeling, often called “runner’s high.” Furthermore, losing weight has been shown to increase self-esteem and relief stress in people who are overweight.

Free yourself to: Participate and keep up with others

Do you ever feel like you can’t participate in certain activities because of your health? Maybe you get easily out of breath playing with the kids or can’t run the bases on your company’ softball team because of back pain. If you have been struggling with the experience of watching others enjoy activities while you sit on the sidelines, it may be that obesity is robbing you of your freedom to join in.

When it comes down to it, there is nothing more important than feeling connected to other people. If the physical and/or emotional impact of your weight is keeping you from participating in events with others, you can always do something about it.

On Fourth of July, we celebrate the many American freedoms we are given, the most of important of which may be our freedom to choose. Each and every minute you have the power to decide how you want to live your life. This includes what you choose to eat, how you move, and how you interact with others. In each of those decisions we hope you exercise your healthy option. We encourage you to choose your healthy self and live at a healthy weight, so you know what it feels like to stay free and independent for a very long time. In the long run, you will feel the positive cumulative effect of all of those small choices. Happy Independence Day!

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