Awareness, Health

Can We Solve the Obesity Epidemic?

Obesity is a hot topic in the health and wellness arena.  In my recent research for a class discussion, I found 100,000+ peer reviewed articles written on the subject just in the past decade.  It’s a well known fact obesity has become a significant crisis in the United States.  Take a quick look below at the growth of obesity rates in the past twenty years.  From less than 20% to approximately 36% of the nation is obese!!

 

Image credit to stateofobesity.org

Let’s not forget the children, our future.  The most current stats show 1 in 5 of children ages 6 to 19 yrs is obese! I find it disheartening to see kids who are overweight because they are at a higher risk for chronic diseases.1 However, while it still remains a major issue, there is positive progress. In the past several years, the percentage of children affected decreased.

Please help in continuing the decreasing trend!  Educate yourself and your community to help our children thrive!

Image from CDC.gov

Back to my class discussion.  This previous week was the first week of my spring semester as a graduate student to earn an MS degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotions with a concentration in Wellness Coaching.  I know very wordy but I’m excited to be on this path!  Our instructor posed the question “Share Why you think there is an Obesity Epidemic and Provide Original Ideas on how to reverse the situation.”

The first part of the question was easy enough to answer because of the thousands of research articles available to point as to what caused our nation to to be almost 36.5% obese.2  You can probably take a guess as well without having to look at the supporting evidence.

But before I present to you the two glaring reasons why we’re in this state of epidemic, let’s define the term OBESITY.  Obesity is defined as the measure of excessive body fat considered healthy relative to the height of the individual.  However since body fat is not simple to measure and can be costly, the next best measurement is the Body Mass Index or BMI.  BMI is 30 or greater for a person to be considered obese.

Why is there an Obesity Epidemic?

I’m sure the healthy practices for children above (which should also be applied to adults) gave you a clue of some of the causes of the obesity epidemic.   There are many causes of obesity from genetics to medications to psychological issues, as well as socioeconomic factors but the two major factors many have cited in their research as well as in my class discussion are –

LACK OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

POOR NUTRITIONAL CHOICES

Technological advances have created a population engaged in sedentary behaviors.  We spend more time now staring at a screen whether it’s a computer, smartphone or television rather than time outdoors for movement and play.  We rely more on transportation to shuttle us everywhere we go, even at a short distance.4  Here is the current statistic according to StateofObesity.org regarding physical activity:

Among American adults, 80 percent do not meet the government’s physical activity recommendations for aerobic and muscle strengthening and 60 percent are not sufficiently active to achieve health benefits.

On the other end is the unhealthy eating habits brought on by the Standard American Diet (SAD) composed of processed foods high in fat (the bad type as in fast foods) and sugar with only a small quantities of fruits and vegetables.  Only 11% of the US consumed the USDA recommended guidelines of 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables daily. 5  If you’re interested in knowing the state-by-state percentages of fruit and vegetable consumption, check out this page on State of Obesity: State Rates of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

How to Reverse this Crisis?

Coming up with an original idea was more complicated to answer.  A number of programs are already instituted to combat this epidemic. However, obesity remains high in the U.S.  We still have more work to do.

So here’s my OUTRAGEOUS proposition –

You know how every box of cigarette requires a warning label?

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, And May Complicate Pregnancy. Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.  Smoking By Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, And Low Birth Weight.Cigarette Smoke Contains Carbon Monoxide.

As an experiment, how about including a Warning Label for Beverages containing High Amounts of Sugar?

WARNING:  Consuming high amounts of sugar contained in this beverage may cause insulin resistance and increase risk for Type 2 Diabetes. 5

I think the presence of a warning label increases AWARENESS and would make a person think twice about purchasing the beverage.  When you’re aware of the consequence of your action, you can make an intelligent decision whether or not you want to accept the consequence.  My current Whole 30 experience has instilled in me the habit of checking ingredient labels.  It’s comforting to know what I’m putting in my body is helping not hurting it.

Another idea that may work –

Start a television advertisement campaign to promote movement so instead of watching ads about McDonald’s bringing back the McRib, it would be an ad with a person encouraging you to stand up and perform a few exercises during the break.

30 to 50% of ads seen on television are about FOOD!  Of course, they’re not about consuming more fruits and vegetables.  Most of them are fast food with hardly any nutritional value.  I’m sure you’ve heard that exposure to food advertisements motivates many of us to eat.  In fact, a study was done that linked a positive connection with overweight and obese individual’s desire to eat more after watching food ads. 6

Would the same psychology work if there were more ads focused on taking a movement break in between shows?  Imagine your favorite actor or actress instructing you to get up and dance!  Will this persuade you to get up off the couch and try it?  Would it then spark up your motivation to do more?

Gif from perezhilton.com

On a more personal level, I think it would help to be a part of a community who have the same ultimate goals which is to get healthy.

In a research conducted,  social networks and social support positively correlated to weight loss.  Those with support from a community lost more weight and followed through with the program.7  

If you’re interested in being a part of a community for women who want to build sustainable healthy habits, join our closed Facebook group, EVOKE HEALTHY HABITS

Evoke Healthy Habits is a community for women to receive support and guidance from one another while going on a journey of change towards a lifestyle of healthy habits. We have weekly challenges, recipes, workouts, and tips to help you establish healthy habits for the year!

Click on this link and request to join: facebook.com/groups/evokehealthyhabits

 

Is Axiom from Wall-E our Future?

I can’t help but think about the fictional obese characters in Wall-E.  The ones where they are in an automated setting staring at screens and sipping shakes.  Moreover, they are sitting in hovercrafts transporting them from one place to another without ever having the need to get up.  Is this where our world is heading?

I sure hope not!

It’s why this epidemic is such a hot topic. Many are invested in determining how best to solve it.  I think overall the mindset of our nation has to shift to truly investing in our health for our future to remain intact.

I would love to hear your thoughts!  Any original ideas on how to reverse the obesity epidemic?
Resources:
https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm
https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
3 The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America 2017
4 Clark, M.A., Lucett, S.C., McGill, E., Montel, I., Sutton, B. (Eds.). (2018).  NASM essentials of personal fitness training.  Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
5 Sonestedt, E., Cecilie Øverby, N., Laaksonen, D. E., & Eva Birgisdottir, B. (2012). Does high sugar consumption exacerbate cardiometabolic risk factors and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease?. Food & Nutrition Research, 561-19.
6 Kemps, E., Tiggemann, M., & Hollitt, S. (2014). Exposure to television food advertising primes food-related cognitions and triggers motivation to eat. Psychology & Health, 29(10), 1192-1205. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2014.918267
7 Knox-Kazimierczuk, F., & Shockly-Smith, M. (2017). African American Women and the Obesity Epidemic: A Systematic Review. Journal Of Pan African Studies, 10(1), 76-110.

 

 

 

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Behavior Change, Facebook Live, Featured Friday Conversations, Health, Inspiration

Soar High and Never Give Up – A Weight Loss Journey

Featured Friday Conversations is a series of interviews on Facebook Live featuring incredible women and their health transformation stories. It is our hope these stories will inspire you to take action towards improving your health.

What’s the most challenging part of doing a live interview?  The unexpected technical issues!  I interviewed Jaycie twice on the show because after I reviewed the video, the audio quality was horrible.  So we did a take 2!  I’m grateful she took time out of her day to do it again. Jaycie was eager to share her compelling story of health transformation, even if it had to be repeated.

Featuring Jaycie Sullivan

Jaycie Sullivan is the mind behind The Soaring Swine.   She created The Soaring Swine for those who also face or are currently facing the same health and wellness struggles she once did by offering healthy recipes, providing perspective and motivation to those either just starting out or simply trying to move past their current fitness plateau.

Jaycie is also an administrative assistant at a local community college.  She loves to dabble in kitchen art and quite the craft enthusiast (she loves Pinterest)! She is also an avid gym-rat and had to find and cultivate fitness motivation for herself as well as others.

Before the ‘Before Photo’

Photo credit: Jaycie Sullivan of The Soaring Swine

Jaycie’s story focuses on her weight loss journey that began in 2013.   Weighing in at 265 lbs, Jaycie was a bit rattled when she saw a photo of herself cooking dinner for her boyfriend .  It wasn’t the image she pictured in her head of who she was.  This photograph became the turning point that made her want to start making changes in her life.

As a college student, Jaycie recalled working at Starbucks where she’d take home the day’s unsold pastries and sandwiches.  This is what her meals consisted of, since it was free and accessible.  Slowly she started to put on weight.  Part of her weight gain also stemmed from spending time with a friend whose cooking was simply irresistible for her to avoid overeating.  From high school through college she ended up gaining 60 to 65 lbs.

Setting Goals and Never Giving Up

“Nothing worth having comes easy”, Jaycie pointed out when we talked about the long and arduous process of weight loss.  Initially she joined Weight Watchers where she learned about portion control with assigned points for various types of food.  However, the portion control didn’t stop her from choosing ‘unhealthy’ types of food.  And in her journey, she had to learn about the importance of selecting more nutrient dense food to fuel her body.  One of her sources of inspiration and motivation was seeing her friend at a wedding who lost a significant amount of weight mostly due to healthy food choices.

What else drove Jaycie to keep going when the process of losing weight was S-L-O-W?  First she needed to stop looking at the scale!  I can see how we can get caught up with the number on the scale and when it doesn’t budge, it becomes discouraging.  With Jaycie, she was actually gaining muscle and losing inches.  She worked with a trainer who taught her how to train with heavier weights to build muscle and lose fat.  Slowly but surely the number of inches off her body began to increase.

Another source of motivation for Jaycie were Pinterest memes!  One that she connected with her the most is “WHAT’S YOUR WHY?” When you read the About page on her blog The Soaring Swine, she wrote about how she no longer wanted to walk up a flight of stairs feeling winded.  This was one of Jaycie’s initial Whys.  And she also talked about how your WHY changes along your journey.

Photo credit: Jaycie Sullivan of The Soaring Swine

Above is a photo of one of her other ‘Whys’.  I like how Jaycie hung a bikini she purchased back when she was 15 years old on her refrigerator which served as a reminder of her goals.  She wanted to wear this bikini in the summer.  Again, it didn’t happen immediately.  It took her close to a year but her after-photo proves that it can be done!

Never compare your journey

Jaycie pointed out how important it is to never compare your journey with others.  Decide to go on a journey of change for yourself but first determine why you want to do it.  Again, the WHY is what will motivate to keep you moving forward.

Share with us ‘What’s the WHY’ that will compel or has compelled you to make lifestyle changes to improve your health?

WATCH THE FACEBOOK LIVE INTERVIEW WITH JAYCIE SULLIVAN!

Click on this link:  Jaycie Sullivan Interview

You can connect with Jaycie Sullivan on Facebook, The Soaring Swine; Instagram, The Soaring Swine and on her website www.thesoaringswine.com

To view other past interviews, go to the Be Inspired page and click on Facebook Live Show.

Are you ready to start your journey to better health?  I have a free e-book for you to download full of tips that are small steps to include in your daily routine to improve on what I believe are the five main elements of Healthy Living – Nutrition, Movement, Sleep, Stress, and Community.

Please visit link below to download book today!

Take Me to CHOOSE THE PATH TO BETTER HEALTH ebook

If you’re ready to start a lifestyle of healthy habits, please consider joining our community of women whose goals are to build sustainable healthy habits.  Short steps go a LONG way!  Click on this link and request to join!  Evoke Healthy Habits

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Awareness, Facebook Live, Featured Friday Conversations, Health, Inspiration

Zero Veggies and Fast Food take its toll on this Mom’s Health

Featured Friday Conversations is a series of interviews on Facebook Live featuring incredible women and their health transformation stories. It is our hope these stories will inspire you to take control of your health.

Featuring Denise Loufti

Denise Loufti @BzHealthyMama

I had the pleasure of meeting Denise virtually in a Facebook group called Mighty Mompreneurs and in person at a Sexy Mama Movement event. She has such a vibrant personality.  And I was excited to finally have the chance to chat with her.

Denise Loufti is a Mom of 2, a part-time speech therapist at her local school district, a health coach, and a student at the school of Applied Functional Medicine. As you can see, she is one busy mom and her personal brand as a health coach, BzHealthyMama perfectly fits her description!  Her journey towards better health led her to becoming a health coach and has helped other mothers and women start on their own health journey as well.

Zero Veggies and Fast Food Galore!

Denise was born and raised in Beirut.  Her mom and grandma cooked typical Lebanese food that consisted of rice, other grains, potatoes, beef and chicken.  However, vegetables were only occasionally served.  Both of Denise’s mom and grandma didn’t like vegetables, so naturally Denise grew up to dislike them as well.

At 17,  Denise moved to California and became quickly exposed to plenty of fast food options.  She went from eating home cooked meals to chips and candy from the vending machine as well as a variety of choices from all the fast food restaurants in close proximity to where she lived and worked.

Even though she suffered from constipation, acne and headaches, she initially thought and accepted them as a normal occurrence in her life.  Little did she know at this point how food may be the cause of these seemingly ‘harmless’ symptoms her body exhibited.

The Reason for Change

We always want the best for our children.  During her first pregnancy, Denise started to eat more vegetables to provide the nutrients her baby needed growing in her belly.  Unfortunately, after giving birth, she returned to her usual way of eating.  Gone were the servings of vegetables.

A few years passed when her second child was born.  Denise’s attention to her health became more prominent when her usual headaches turned into bothersome migraines. When she finally went to see a doctor, she was prescribed meds that caused extreme drowsiness.  She wasn’t functional and as a mother, she felt helpless and needed to find a way to get rid of the migraine without resorting to meds.

Being motivated to get to the bottom of her health issues, she used her resourcefulness to figure it out on her own.  This is when she determined what she put in her mouth greatly impacted her health.

Self-Experimentation

Not one size fits all!  Every one of us reacts differently to particular types of food.  What might have worked for one person may not work for Denise.  But how would she know unless if she tried it?  Hence, Denise’s approach was to experiment with food – what to add, which ones to eliminate to improve her health.  However not everything she tried worked for her.  At one point, she even became an extreme raw vegan.  But it didn’t make her feel good so it was back to the drawing board.

Starting with small changes, her first step was to eliminate processed foods.  Therefore, no more Taco Bell!  Stop going to the vending machines!  Eat real food!

She learned about food sensitivities.  Typically, sensitivities can stem from consumption of dairy, gluten, and processed sugar.  Surely enough, when Denise eliminated dairy from her diet, her migraines subsided.  When she added organic  fruits and vegetables along with more water, her bowel movements became more frequent.  The problematic acne she had, amazingly started to clear up after she stopped consuming gluten, processed sugar, and dairy.

Don’t Wait

Denise’s advice to those who are contemplating change to better their health is –

Change Now before You are Forced To Change.”

I know at times it could be difficult to think of change unless we are under some type of force.  But if you have this thought in the back of your mind.  The realization that we can take charge of our health.  We don’t have to wait for a diagnosis from our doctor to change the way we eat, move, sleep, and handle stress.  These are all lifestyle choices we can make today so we don’t have to waste our time sitting in the doctor’s office to address the symptoms we’re experiencing.

Is your body exhibiting symptoms similar to Denise’s that you’ve dismissed as being normal to you?  Have you been forced to make a change due to current health issues?

WATCH THE FACEBOOK LIVE INTERVIEW WITH DENISE LOUFTI!

Unfortunately, the interview was cut off so there are two parts to it with provided links below.

Part 1 – https://www.facebook.com/evokestrong/videos/185473808664509/

Part 2 – https://www.facebook.com/evokestrong/videos/185757381969485/

Denise Loufti is a health coach known as BzHealthyMama.  You can connect with her on Facebook, BzHealthyMama; Instagram, BzHealthyMama; and on her website www.bzhealthymama.com

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Awareness, Behavior Change, Facebook Live, Featured Friday Conversations, Health, Inspiration

A Mom learns to Cook and Prep Meals for Health

evoke STRONG Live features the incredible health transformation stories of every day women to inspire others that a healthy and thriving well-being is within reach.

The first featured story was about Flossie Hall, a mother of 4, a Navy spouse and the CEO of Healthy Momma, a meal prep service in San Diego. Flossie never cooked but she had a strong drive to learn how to do it to improve her health as well as her family’s.  She mastered the art of meal preparation to the point where she started doing it for her friends. And thus Healthy Momma, her thriving business was born.

Pregnancy Weight Gain

As a young kid who grew up poor, the most convenient foods for Flossie and her family came from a box and was highly processed. Flossie didn’t have any issues with her weight growing up – in fact, she was actually a skinny kid. However, she did come from a family who was overweight due to lack of exercise and nutritious food. When she became pregnant at 15, she gained around 120 lbs in the span of nine months. Flossie wanted to lose weight but wasn’t exactly sure how to approach it so she tried the ‘gimmicky-type’ diets. These are the diets that offered bars and boxed foods which didn’t really work for her.  Years passed and the birth of her second baby. This time she gained an additional 40 lbs.

The Case for Health

Flossie went to school with aspirations to become a medical doctor.  She completed EMT school at the top of her class and was immediately hired.  But before she could start, she had to pass a Physical Readiness Test.  Due to lack of exercise, she failed and the instructor advised her to train for it. It was a crushing moment but at the same time, it made her realized that she needed to take action.  As someone who planned to work in a health-related field, she wanted to be the example and an influencer for healthy living.  However, she had to take care of herself first. And it started with purging her cupboards of unhealthy food items. One of her rules at home was ‘Toss two items and replace with healthier options’.  A big adjustment for her family but it eventually paid off!

Learn, Do and Share!

Determined to take back her health, Flossie read countless nutrition books to educate herself and also taught herself how to cook.  She learned how to create healthy dishes without sacrificing the rich flavor she preferred.  At the same time, she also started doing at-home exercise videos. With better nutrition and exercise, Flossie noticed changes in her body, from 210 lbs to around 160 lbs!  By the time she had her third and fourth child, she established better eating and exercise habits. Her lifestyle changes made it easier for her to lose the pregnancy weight. Due to her transformation, her friends wondered how she did it.  So Flossie started a Facebook Page and named it Healthy Momma, where she posted recipes, workouts and challenges, as well as her progress.

A resourceful mom, Flossie sought fitness inspiration on Instagram. This is where she got meal prep ideas.  Sundays was when she dedicated time to prepare meals for the week.  At first, it was a trial and error process.  But she enjoyed what she did so she learned how to perfect her recipes.  Eventually, a friend asked Flossie to prepare meals for her and offered to pay for her service.  When she posted about it, many others were interested in having her prepare their meals.  In one month, it grew from two people to upwards of thirty!  This was the birth of her meal prep business.

No longer about the Weight Loss

Laser focused on weight loss, Flossie reached her lowest number on the scale (127 lbs) after her fourth child was born.  While she was making better choices with food, she started to become more restrictive with it. It wasn’t a ‘healthy weight’ for her since she felt too thin and frail. Again her drive to continually improve her health led her to muscle building types of activities such as strength training and Crossfit.  Her weight increased because of muscle mass and she felt much stronger.  She no longer focused on the scale but rather on overall health and disease prevention by fueling her body with real food and hitting the gym to build on her strength. She also makes sure she gets enough sleep and meditates to relax and rejuvenate.

Flossie’s Journey of Change. Top left photo, at her heaviest 15 yrs ago.

One day at a time to Avoid Overwhelm

Flossie’s biggest advice for those who wants to go on a journey of change but feels stuck is to “Bite it off to small pieces…Think about, What am I going to do Today?” whether it’s going to the gym a couple of times a week or drinking more water or making better food choices.  Pick one or two things to tackle and once you get the hang of it, add one or two more until it becomes a part of your lifestyle.

To watch the Facebook Live interview with Flossie Hall, click on the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/evokestrong/videos/180965972448626/

Connect with Flossie Hall on Facebook, Healthy Momma; Instagram, Healthy Momma; and on her website, www.healthy-momma.com
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Facebook Live

The ‘Whys’ of evoke STRONG

In a lunch and learn hosted by The Rosie Network for the Service2CEO program, we learned about the importance of a business plan. Unfortunately, I missed most of the lecture because I had to pick up my daughter from camp.  However right before I left, we watched Simon Sinek’s TED talk How Great Leaders Inspire Action which was based on the book Start with Why.  I’ve heard of the book (have yet to read it) and this was the first time I saw the third most popular TED video of all time!  Why should we ‘start with why’?  Because the WHY conveys your purpose and beliefs giving a deeper meaning to your mission.

In episode one of evoke STRONG live, I talked about the ‘WHYs’ of evoke STRONG

  • Build Awareness.  Being aware makes you realize a need for change.  This is when you start to think about the advantages and disadvantages of taking action.  I believe raising awareness about the way we eat, move, sleep, and handle stress paves a way towards change for improved health.

  • Share Stories.  I want to share stories of transformation.  Stories of ordinary people like you and me, who chose to change their lifestyle so they can restore or improve their health.  It’s my hope that by sharing these stories, those who watch and listen may find inspiration in one or all of them.  Stories are powerful in a way they can move people to action.  It’s a person saying, “If she can overcome her struggles, I can do the same!”

 

  • Grow a Community.  How important is it to have the support of a community when you’re in the midst of a challenge?  A lifestyle change to improve your health is a challenge.  To have others celebrate your achievements and empathize when you feel defeated makes a big difference.  Someone to applaud you when you reach a goal.  Someone to listen to you when no one else understands.  A community standing with you is an essential ingredient of healthy living.

Ultimately, I created evoke STRONG so I can serve you.

You, who needs guidance in choosing the path towards a lifestyle of healthy habits.

I invite you to watch the replay of Ep01:  An Introduction to evoke STRONG.  Click on the FB logo to enable the comment feature if you’d like to leave comments for the show.

If you’re interested in becoming a part of a community of women whose end goal is a lifestyle of healthy habits, please check out our closed Facebook group: Evoke Healthy Habits

Would you like to be notified of future episodes of our live show?  Scroll to the bottom and subscribe to our newsletter!

Have you (or someone you know) had a lifestyle change to improve your health and would love to share your story?  Send us an email on evokestrong@gmail.com.

 

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