Americans are getting bigger and bigger. Our struggles with managing our waistlines are as real as those jeans that you can no longer button. According to research, in 2016 three out of four Americans struggled with weight challenges (Credit: Out World In Date).
So, why should this matter to you?
After you relocated to America you may have noticed, your weight slowly started to climb. It might be as little as one-two pounds a year, here and there but you will start observing your clothes do not fit the same. So, lets talk about our expanding waistlines!
This post will explore three things:
- How extra pounds affect your health
- Five reasons you gained weight after immigration
- How to get your body back
Extra Pounds and Your Health
First, folks who carry extra pounds have higher health risks. Research shows a strong correlation between your weight and your predisposition for heart disease, cancer and diabetes, which account for nearly 50% of all annual deaths in United States. Read more here.
Second, extra pounds can also contribute to your mood and behavior. The study, published in 2010 in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that obese people have a 55% higher risk of developing depression over time compared with people of normal weight. (Credit: HelpGuide)
Lastly, childhood obesity is on the rise as well. Did you know, that according to research, child born in a family with overweight parents have 40% higher chances to also become overweight? Overweight kids tend to have higher health risks to develop debilitating health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, gallstones, heart diseases, high blood pressure and liver problems among, hormonal issues and many other health challenges. (Credit: UCSF).
Why you gained weight?
I would suggest that there are four primary reasons to why your weight increased after immigration:
- More stress
- Higher calorie density
- Less walking
- Dining out more
Lets, face it, your life got little crazy and your stress levels went through the roof after you relocated to America. From figuring out USCIS paperwork, struggling with language, trying to keep up with all the changes in your life, chances are your stress levels increased dramatically.
According to WebMD higher stress levels and weight gain are positively correlated. One of the main reasons is after our body releases cortisol (stress hormone) we tend to sooth ourselves with comfort food. Comfort foods also tend to be heavier in calories, which leads to adding extra pounds.
Second reason is increased food calorie density. Let`s start by defining what it is. Calorie density is a relative measurement of number of calories per unit of food weight/volume. What happens is when we start consuming more processed food and animal products we tend to consume a lot more calories per unit of weight or volume than before, even though we seem eat the same amount of food. As a result, our overall calorie count will rise and therefore our weight will increase as well.
Third reason is less walking. More often than not, once you relocate to US you will walk less, you will not use public transportation and find yourself living a more sedentary lifestyle. Most likely you will use your personal car to commute from place to place.
We live busy lives, and lets be honest here, Americans love to dine out. Okay, so maybe you enjoyed eating out occasionally, how would this contribute to your weight gain? Well, there are two primary differences in meals prepared by you at home versus restaurant meals: calories and portion sizes. According to the article cited, the same exact dish, cooked at home will have up to 50-70% less calories, comparing to the meal you order at your favorite restaurant. The calorie difference is largely due to additional fats and larger portion sizes. (Credit: Food Network).
How to get your body back
Get Inspired. Start by getting inspired, informed and educated about healthier lifestyle. Great movies to watch to get started:
- Netflix: “Forks Over Knives” food documentary
- Netflix: “What the health” food documentary
- “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”, raw juicing documentary
Gathering more information might sounds like an extra step, but if you have not made changes in your life up to this point, maybe your current mindset and belief system holds you back? Watch movies and share your opinion in the comment section below.
Reduce your stress levels by moving more. There are many simple strategies to integrate more movement and relaxation in your life. Here are a few steps you could take today:
- Recognize your primary stress triggers, such as kids, job or relationships
- Join a yoga class, or utilize YouTube free channels to workout at home
- Use your lunch break to go for a quick walk or a jog outside
- Stretch or practice palates, while watching your favorite show at home
- Get more sleep, turn off devices 2 hours before bed time and go to bed little earlier
- Reduce your caffeine intake, attempt not to drink coffee in afternoons
- Reconnect with a friend or a relative, talk your concerns out
- Take any opportunity to move more and enjoy outdoors
Cook and eat at home. Make making meals at home a priority. Dedicate couple of evenings per week to create a larger homemade meal, that you could enjoy during the week. It will do wonders to reduce your calorie intake, build better connection with your family and significantly reduce your food costs. Win-win-win! Yes, it will take planning and dedication, but your body will thank you for it.
Eat More Plants. Explore plant-based lifestyle. Make an effort to eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes and less processed food, fats and animal foods. Here is couple of awesome facts about the lifestyle: no calorie count is needed, and you don`t have to worry about figuring out carbs, proteins, fats and sugars. You can eat until you full!!! No portion size control either. Cool, huh? Yes, you will loose pounds very fast, just eat more plants. Read more about Plant Base Lifestyle and how to get started here.
Discover juicing. If there is one thing that you could do today that will have the most impact on your weight and overall health it is juicing. Why juicing versus just eating veggies and fruits? The answer is in fiber. When you remove fiber from produce and consume raw vegetable juice you provide your body with organic highly absorbable liquid that restores every cell in your body, removes waist and heals you inside out. You can expect your acne, migraines, chronic fatigue and lack of energy to disappear too! Lastly, raw juices will promote your digestion and reduce your constipation too! How to start? Check out Reboot with Joe web site for easy recipes and ideas.
Conclusion: My Story
If anyone understand weight battles, that would be me. My personal struggles with weight started right after I immigrated. I recall one morning, when I was frantically pulling my favorite, light blue, summer jeans on. The jeans did not fit, even after I exhaled and jumped up and down, nope, nothing worked. The reality was undeniable- I GAINED WEIGHT.
For the past 15 years my weight fluctuated from 132 to 210 pounds. Last time I weighted 210 lbs it was in August 2014, right before I had my third baby. Being that big sucked. I was huge, miserable and uncomfortable. I hated my body.
Shortly after delivery, I switched to plant-based whole foods lifestyle, committed to regular workouts and focused on my health. For the past four years I tried different approaches and some of them worked better than others. My efforts yielded results, today I am 134 lbs and have maintained my weight for over a year now. The post reflects every strategy I leveraged to changed my weight and most importantly, change my life. I hope the tips we discussed will help you as well.
Thank you for reading. Please comment on the post and share about your journey.
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