OBESITY AND CREATION LIFE
Seven out of 10 Americans are overweight. Many have tried to lose the extra pounds through diets or weight-loss plans that left them feeling hungry, deprived, and discouraged. Fortunately, there’s a better way. You can take control of your health, lose weight, and keep it off. It’s all possible through the power of CREATION Life.
WEIGHT MANAGEMENT IS NOT THE SAME FOR EVERYONE
It’s not easy being overweight. Whether you have dealt with extra weight most of your life or recently added excess pounds, your weight likely impacts many aspects of your life, and you may be bombarded with constant reminders of your condition.
As you think about making a change, you may wonder, Will I have to be on a diet for the rest of my life? Am I ever going to be able to lose this extra weight?
Change is hard, but there is hope. Through the journey, it’s important to take advice from the most reliable, scientifically-proven research studies. This website includes practical tips from credible research, so you’ll discover the help you need to achieve wholeness in every aspect of your well-being.
Keeping your weight in a healthy range is one of the best things you can do for yourself. While weight loss may not improve every aspect of your life, it will help you enjoy life’s most precious moments. It all begins with the CREATION choices you make each day.
Get started with these suggestions:
PRIORITIZE YOUR HEALTH You may feel as if you don’t have time to take care of yourself because you work long hours or are busy caring for others. The truth is, when you don’t take care of yourself, you might not be able to take care of the people most important to you. Treat your health as an important responsibility, and make a decision—not just a wish—to lose weight. A decision involves a strong motivation to do the work and an attitude that you will be successful.
THINK SMALL To ensure your success, be wary of setting unreasonable goals, such as an extremely low-calorie diet or unattainable weekly weight-loss targets. Instead, set small, achievable goals. You can’t change eating habits in a single day, and if you try to, you will most likely become frustrated. Ease into your weight-loss plan. Changes will come over time as you slowly create healthier habits.
WORK WITH YOUR DOCTOR Do you avoid seeing your doctor because you are embarrassed about your weight? Know that your doctor may be your best resource. They can help you, but it is up to you to take the initiative to discuss your weight-loss plan with them. To help you monitor your progress, your doctor will likely take a baseline of your weight, waist size, and weight-to-height ratio, or body mass index (BMI). Having established your starting point, you and your doctor can then craft a plan based on your unique medical needs and body type.
WRITE IT DOWN Would you grab a handful of M&Ms if you knew you would have to jot it down in a journal afterward? Researchers say that chances are you would skip the treat. Writing down every bite of food you eat, as well as your exercise sessions, makes you more accountable and cuts your calorie intake. In fact, a large-scale study found that keeping a food and exercise journal doubled the amount of weight people lost. While you are writing, think about the positive results you will see in the future, and the life goals you want to achieve.
KICK THE HABIT If you smoke, you may have hesitated to give up cigarettes because you’re worried about weight gain. But stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your body. People who try to quit smoking are more likely to achieve long-term success if their healthcare providers help them directly, so talk with your doctor about resources and a plan to quit for good.
PRIORITIZE YOUR HEALTH
Reference Burke, Lora E., Jing Wang, and Mary Ann Sevick. “Self-monitoring in weight loss: a systematic review of the literature.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 111, no. 1 (2011): 92-102.
Research Summary Researchers conducted a systematic review of three components of self-monitoring in behavioral weight loss studies: diet, exercise, and self-weighing. The review included articles that were published between 1993 and 2009 that reported on the relationship between weight loss and these self-monitoring strategies. Of the 22 studies identified, 15 focused on dietary self-monitoring, one on self-monitoring exercise, and six on self-weighing. A wide array of methods was used to perform self-monitoring; the paper diary was used most often. Adherence to self-monitoring was reported most frequently as the number of diaries completed or the frequency of log-ins or reported weights. The use of technology, which included the Internet, personal digital assistants, and electronic digital scales were reported in five studies. Results showed a significant association between self-monitoring and weight loss.
Reference Pearson, Erin S. “Goal setting as a health behavior change strategy in overweight and obese adults: a systematic literature review examining intervention components.” Patient education and counseling 87, no. 1 (2012): 32-42.
Research Summary Researchers from The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada conducted a systematic review to explore the impact that goal setting has on behavior change specific to diet and physical activity targeting overweight adults. Studies were evaluated using the S.T.A.R.T. (Specificity, Timing, Acquisition, Rewards and feedback, and Tools) criteria which were developed for the purposes of this review to reveal which intervention features elicit optimal health behavior outcomes. Eighteen studies were included. Based on the S.T.A.R.T. criteria, it was determined that developing specific, measurable goals, that involve the participant, and incorporate regular feedback, are effective in health behavior changes. In conclusion, measurable goal setting shows promise as a tool that can be incorporated into weight reduction programs by health care professionals.
WORK WITH YOUR DOCTOR
Reference Rose, S. A., P. S. Poynter, J. W. Anderson, S. M. Noar, and J. Conigliaro. “Physician weight loss advice and patient weight loss behavior change: a literature review and meta-analysis of survey data.” International journal of obesity 37, no. 1 (2013): 118-128.
Research Summary Researchers from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, United States performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies of survey data examining doctor counseling for weight loss and its association with changes in patient weight loss behavior. A total of 32 studies met criteria for the literature review. Of these, 12 were appropriate for the meta-analysis. Results showed that receiving weight loss advice from a physician had a positive effect on patients attempts to change behaviors related to their weight.
WRITE IT DOWN
Reference Teismann, Tobias, Serkan Het, Matthias Grillenberger, Ulrike Willutzki, and Oliver T. Wolf. “Writing about life goals: Effects on rumination, mood and the cortisol awakening response.” Journal of health psychology 19, no. 11 (2014): 1410-1419.
Research Summary Researchers from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany examined whether writing about life goals is associated with a decrease in negative thinking and a reduced cortisol stress response. Sixty-eight healthy participants either wrote about their personal life goals or a control topic. Writing about life goals was associated with a decrease in negative thinking and a reduced cortisol awakening response at the post-intervention assessment. Results provide initial evidence that writing about life goals can be a helpful aid in decreasing negative thinking and physiological stress.
KICK THE HABIT
Reference Manfredi, Clara, Kathleen Crittenden, Young Ik Cho, Julie Engler, and Richard Warnecke. “Maintenance of a smoking cessation program in public health clinics beyond the experimental evaluation period.” Public health reports (2016).
Research Summary Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago, United States evaluated a stop smoking program called “It’s Time” in seven health clinics in Chicago, United States. The authors interviewed 404 clinic patients in the study’s baseline phase (prior to introduction of the “It’s Time” intervention program), and 610 in the program maintenance phase (in the year after experimental evaluation had ended) to assess exposure to smoking cessation interventions offered at the clinic. Results showed smokers had a greater exposure to posters, healthcare provider advice, and educational booklets creating better smoking cessation outcomes on seven of eight measures including smoking.
CLOSE RESEARCH STUDIES
Taking time for sleep and rest will do wonders for your day-to-day life and weight-loss endeavors. It will recharge you and give you the vigor and energy you need to handle your commitments, relationships, and overall health and well-being.
Enjoy the benefits of more rest by following these helpful tips:
SCHEDULE SEVEN TO EIGHT HOURS Sleep is a critical, but often overlooked, part of a weight-loss plan. When you’re sleeping, your body burns fat, a process that gets cut short if you don’t get enough rest. Also, people who sleep less tend to eat more throughout the day, which causes additional weight gain. Experts recommend between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. Skimping on sleep disrupts your weight-loss goals and sets you up for a host of health problems, such as increased risk for depression, type 2 diabetes, and stress.
RELIEVE INSOMNIA During times of stress, many people experience sleep problems. But for some, insomnia develops into a chronic problem, meaning it lasts more than four weeks. If you are having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early, you are dealing with insomnia. Fortunately, your doctor can offer treatment options that can help you stop struggling and start sleeping.
CREATE A BEDTIME RITUAL Your body’s rhythm thrives on routine, so consistency is key to establishing a good bedtime routine. The goal is to go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time every day, even on weekends. As you do so, your body will adjust, and you’ll begin to get tired when bedtime arrives and you will feel more rested in the mornings. To establish your ideal bedtime, gradually adjust the time you go to bed by 10 or 20 minutes until you get to the bedtime that allows you to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.
TAKE TIME OFF Sleep is vital to your health, but so are other kinds of rest. Reserve a day each week to re-energize your spirit by taking a break from work, spending time with family and friends, and having quiet time for reading or for self-reflection. To lower your stress during the workweek, take five-minute relaxation breaks throughout the day, do chair stretches, or take a walk. And don’t be one of the many who forfeit earned vacation days because you are too busy at work.
RELAX During your weight-loss journey, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed or frustrated at times—and that stress can take a toll on your weight. The stress hormone cortisol has been shown to increase hunger, drive cravings for junk food, and make your body cling to belly fat. Keep a list of stress management techniques that work for you, and look to it for ideas, rather than going on a stress-induced food binge. For instance, you can practice deep breathing, visualize a peaceful place, go to a church service, or pray. Make time for relaxation, whether it is a soak in a warm bath or curling up to read your favorite book.
SCHEDULE SEVEN TO EIGHT HOURS
Reference Markwald, Rachel R., Edward L. Melanson, Mark R. Smith, Janine Higgins, Leigh Perreault, Robert H. Eckel, and Kenneth P. Wright. “Impact of insufficient sleep on total daily energy expenditure, food intake, and weight gain.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110, no. 14 (2013): 5695-5700.
Research Summary Researchers from University of Colorado, Boulder, United States studied 16 adults in a 14- to 15-day-long inpatient study and measured effects of five days of insufficient sleep defined as less than six hours per night. The results found that sleeping less than six hours per night led to weight gain despite changes in hunger. Insufficient sleep delayed the melatonin phase of sleep and led to earlier wake time. Women were more likely to have reduced dietary restraint at night leading to weight gain. The findings suggest that increased food intake during insufficient sleep is a physical adaptation to provide energy needed to sustain additional wakefulness. The researchers also found that getting adequate and recovery sleep decreased energy intake and led to weight loss.
Reference Chaput, Jean-Philippe, Jean-Pierre Després, Claude Bouchard, and Angelo Tremblay. “The association between sleep duration and weight gain in adults: a 6-year prospective study from the Quebec Family Study.” Sleep 31, no. 4 (2008): 517-523.
Research Summary Researchers from Laval University Quebec City, Quebec, Canada conducted a six-year study to investigate the relationship between sleep duration and weight and fat gain. Adults aged 21 to 64 years from the Quebec Family Study. More than half of the 276 participants were drawn from families with at least one parent and one offspring with a body mass index of 32 kg/m2 or higher. Body composition measurements and self-reported sleep duration were determined. Changes body fat were compared between short (five to six hours), average (seven to eight hours), and long (nine to 10 hours) duration sleeper groups. Results showed that short- and long-duration sleepers were 35% more likely to experience a five-kg weight gain, as compared with average-duration sleepers over six years. The risk of developing obesity was elevated for short- and long-duration sleepers as compared with average-duration sleepers, with 27% increase in risk.
Reference Chaput, Jean-Philippe, and Angelo Tremblay. “Sleeping habits predict the magnitude of fat loss in adults exposed to moderate caloric restriction.” Obesity facts 5, no. 4 (2012): 561-566.
Research Summary Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada conducted a study to examine whether sleep quantity and quality can predict weight loss in adults on a moderate caloric restriction diet. A total of 123 overweight and obese men and women underwent weight loss intervention consisting of a targeted 600-700 kcal/day decrease in energy intake supervised by a dietician. The length of the intervention varied between 15 and 24 weeks. Body fat, sleep quality (total Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index score) and sleep duration (h/night, self-reported from the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) were assessed at both baseline and at the end of the weight loss program. Statistical analysis revealed a significant positive relation between higher sleep duration and the loss of increased body fat. In addition, sleep quality at baseline was also associated with greater fat loss.
Reference Tan, Xiao, Markku Alén, Kun Wang, Jarkko Tenhunen, Petri Wiklund, Markku Partinen, and Sulin Cheng. “Effect of Six-Month Diet Intervention on Sleep among Overweight and Obese Men with Chronic Insomnia Symptoms: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Nutrients 8, no. 11 (2016): 751.
Research Summary Researchers from Exercise Health and Technology Center, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland conducted a study to determine the effect of a six-month diet intervention on sleep among overweight men with chronic insomnia symptoms. A group of men aged 30-65 years with chronic insomnia symptoms were randomly assigned to either a diet or control group. The diet group underwent a six-month individualized diet intervention with three face-to-face counseling sessions and online supervision one to three times per week; 300-500 kcal/day less energy intake and optimized nutrient composition were recommended. Sleep habits were determined by bed sensors, a sleep diary, and a validated sleep questionnaire. The results showed that compared to the control group (made no change), the diet group fell asleep faster, slept more soundly, had lower depression scores, and less nightly awakening.
Reference Tremblay, Angelo, Catherine Lepage, Shirin Panahi, Christian Couture, and Vicky Drapeau. “Adaptations to a diet-based weight-reducing programme in obese women resistant to weight loss.” Clinical obesity 5, no. 3 (2015): 145-153.
Research Summary Researchers from Laval University, Quebec, Canada conducted a study to assess energy intake, resting metabolic rate (RMR), appetite sensations, eating behaviors and sleep duration and quality in overweight women resistant to body weight loss when subjected to a diet-based weight-reducing program. A group of 75 women participated in a 12-16 week diet-based weight loss program with a daily energy deficit of 500-700 kcal. The women were classified in a high, moderate, and low responder group. Women in the high responder group had the largest decrease in weight and reported a significant improvement in sleep quality and an increase in sleep duration compared with the low, and moderate responder groups.
Reference Whited, Matthew C., Effie Olendzki, Yunsheng Ma, Molly E. Waring, Kristin L. Schneider, Bradley M. Appelhans, Andrew M. Busch, James Chesebro, and Sherry L. Pagoto. “Obstructive sleep apnea and weight loss treatment outcome among adults with metabolic syndrome.” Health Psychology 35, no. 12 (2016): 1316.
Research Summary Researchers from University of Massachusetts Medical School examined whether overweight adults screened as high risk for sleep apnea lose less weight as a part of a weight loss program than those who were screened as low risk for sleep apnea. The researchers conducted a second analysis on a clinical trial study comparing two weight loss intervention consisting of dietary counseling for overweight adults. Participants were screened for sleep apnea using a validated screening questionnaire. Percent weight loss was calculated from weight measured at baseline and intervention end at 12 months. Weight loss of five percent or greater was considered clinically significant. Statistical analysis showed that nearly half of the participants were screened as high risk for sleep apnea and lost less weight than the participants without sleep apnea.
CREATE A BEDTIME RITUAL
Reference Suh, Sooyeon, Sara Nowakowski, Rebecca A. Bernert, Jason C. Ong, Allison T. Siebern, Claire L. Dowdle, and Rachel Manber. “Clinical significance of night-to-night sleep variability in insomnia.” Sleep medicine 13, no. 5 (2012): 469-475.
Research Summary Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine, Rush University Medical Center, and Palo Alto University, United States studied the clinical outcomes of night sleep variability and insomnia symptoms. The participants were 455 patients seeking treatment for insomnia in a sleep medicine clinic. All participants received group therapy for insomnia. Variability in sleep schedule was assessed using sleep diary data. Two composite scores were computed, a behavioral schedule score and insomnia symptom score. Validated assessments were administered at the start and end of the study. The results revealed that variability in sleep schedules predicted reduction in insomnia and depressive severity following group therapy.
TAKE TIME OFF
Reference Hunter, Emily M., and Cindy Wu. “Give me a better break: Choosing workday break activities to maximize resource recovery.” Journal of Applied Psychology 101, no. 2 (2016): 302.
Research Summary Researchers from Baylor University, United States examined the association between workday break characteristics and well-being, in 95 employees, observed over five workdays. Results indicated activities that were chosen by the employee, and earlier in the work shift related to more recovery following the break. In addition, break length interacted with the number of breaks per day such that longer breaks and frequent short breaks were associated with more recovery than infrequent short breaks.
Reference Christaki, E., A. Kokkinos, V. Costarelli, E. C. Alexopoulos, G. P. Chrousos, and C. Darviri. “Stress management can facilitate weight loss in Greek overweight and obese women: a pilot study.” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 26, no. s1 (2013): 132-139.
Research Summary Researchers from School of Medicine, University of Athens, Athens, Greece evaluated the effectiveness of an eight-week stress management program that muscle relaxation and deep breathing on weight loss and eating behavior in a group of overweight women. A total of 34 women were recruited from the outpatients Obesity Clinic of a public hospital in Athens, Spain. Participants were randomly assigned into a Stress Management and a control group. Measurements were taken before and after the intervention, and the participants completed validated questionnaires. The results revealed significant improvement in weight loss in the stress management group compared to the control group. A higher restrained eating behavior was observed in the stress management group compared to the control group.
CLOSE RESEARCH STUDIES
With all the taxing and stressful things you face each day, it’s vital to manage your environment in a way that contributes to your weight loss success.
Create a restful environment using these methods:
HEAD OUTSIDE Have you ever noticed that going on a walk outside can help clear your mind? While the fresh air and sunshine are good for your spirit, science suggests that spending time outside is also important to your overall well-being. If you consider yourself more of a couch potato than an explorer, start small. Spend 15 minutes outside each evening, or go on a walk at lunch. If you live in a city, visit a park to get your nature fix.
DECORATE WITH NATURE When it comes to decorating, nature may very well be the world’s best mentor. There are numerous ways to bring a hint of nature into your home, even if you have limited space and design experience. One of the easiest ways is through the use of houseplants. In addition, looking out the window at plants will also bring you a sense of the great outdoors.
SET ASIDE THE SCREENS Breakfast while scanning your smartphone, lunch at your desk, dinner in front of the TV—you would be amazed how many additional calories you consume when you are distracted by screens. Whether you’re watching a show or responding to emails, these distractions pull your attention away from how much you are eating and make you less likely to notice your body’s signals that you are full. Try your best to stay away from all screens while you’re eating.
EMBRACE SILENCE A peaceful home is a happy home. Your furniture, lighting, and home fabrics can all contribute to calm and comfort, but there is one aspect of housekeeping that is easy to overlook—soundproofing. From noisy neighbors to honking cars, too much noise can disrupt your sleep, add to your stress, infringe on your privacy, and compromise your quality of life. Try a few well-placed rugs to drown out the sound of footsteps, hang sound-dampening drapes, or for additional quietness, apply a coat of soundproofing paint (yes, that exists!).
EAT IN A STRESS-FREE ENVIRONMENT If you have a stack of bills waiting for you on the kitchen counter or a long to-do list taped to the fridge, you are setting yourself up to eat more. When people eat in a relaxed environment, they eat significantly less than when they’re surrounded by anxiety triggers. Make your dining area calm and peaceful by clearing the clutter and organizing the countertops and table.
Reference Arnberger, Arne, and Renate Eder. “Are urban visitors’ general preferences for green-spaces similar to their preferences when seeking stress relief?” Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 14, no. 4 (2015): 872-882.
Research Summary Researchers investigated the preferences for green-space visitors have when they are seeking stress relief. The study explored the preferences of 692 on-site visitors to different green-spaces in Vienna, Austria. The results showed that stress relief visitors were more likely to choose green-spaces than visitors not seeking stress relief.
Reference Beyer, Kirsten MM, Andrea Kaltenbach, Aniko Szabo, Sandra Bogar, F. Javier Nieto, and Kristen M. Malecki. “Exposure to neighborhood green space and mental health: evidence from the survey of the health of Wisconsin.” International journal of environmental research and public health 11, no. 3 (2014): 3453-3472.
Research Summary Researchers from Institute for Health and Society, Medical College of Wisconsin, United States explored the relationship between environmental green space and mental health outcomes. The authors examined the association between green space and mental health using the unique, population-based Survey of the Health of Wisconsin database. The results showed that higher levels of neighborhood green space were associated with significantly lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress.
Reference Roe, Jenny J., Catharine Ward Thompson, Peter A. Aspinall, Mark J. Brewer, Elizabeth I. Duff, David Miller, Richard Mitchell, and Angela Clow. “Green space and stress: evidence from cortisol measures in deprived urban communities.” International journal of environmental research and public health 10, no. 9 (2013): 4086-4103.
Research Summary Researchers from School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University, UK conducted an exploratory study showing that more green space in deprived urban neighborhoods in Scotland is linked to lower levels of perceived stress and improved stress hormone levels. Salivary cortisol concentrations were measured at three, six, and nine-hour post awakening over two consecutive weekdays, together with measures of perceived stress. Participants were 106 men and women in work ages between 35–55 years, and were residents in socially disadvantaged districts. The results showed a significant relationship between higher green space levels and stress levels, indicating living in areas with a higher percentage of green space is associated with lower stress.
DECORATE WITH NATURAL ELEMENTS
Reference Qin, Jun, Chanjuan Sun, Xin Zhou, Hanbing Leng, and Zhiwei Lian. “The effect of indoor plants on human comfort.” Indoor and Built Environment 23, no. 5 (2014): 709-723.
Research Summary Researchers conducted a series of experiments to investigate the effects of colors, odors, and size of plants on human comfort and higher quality living environment. Different kinds of plants with different levels of color (green, tint, and multicolor), odor (no odor, slight scent, and strong scent) and size (small, medium, and large) were chosen for the experiment design. A survey of participants’ satisfaction degree as well as measurements from electroencephalogram (EEG), electrocardiogram (ECG), fingertip blood flow, skin resistance, and respiration rate were utilized to illustrate the response of participants to the environments either with different plants or without plants. The results demonstrated that an interior office with plants was preferred over an office without plants. The environments with green, slightly scented, and small plants were reported as the most comfortable and stress-free conditions.
Reference Chang, Chen-Yen, and Ping-Kun Chen. “Human response to window views and indoor plants in the workplace.” HortScience 40, no. 5 (2005): 1354-1359.
Research Summary Researchers studied the effects of window views and indoor plants on emotional and physical health responses in workplace environments. Photo Impact 5.0 was used to simulate the environment in an office, where six conditions were examined: 1) window with a view of a city; 2) window with a view of a city and indoor plants; 3) window with a view of nature; 4) window with a view of nature and indoor plants; 5) office without a window view; and 6) office without a window view and indoor plants. Participants were less nervous or anxious when watching a view of nature and/or when indoor plants were present. When neither the window view nor the indoor plants were shown, participants suffered the highest degree of tension and anxiety.
SET ASIDE THE SCREENS
Reference Japas, Claudio, Synnøve Knutsen, Salem Dehom, Hildemar Dos Santos, and Serena Tonstad. “Body mass index gain between ages 20 and 40 years and lifestyle characteristics of men at ages 40–60 years: The Adventist Health Study-2.” Obesity research & clinical practice 8, no. 6 (2014): e549-e557.
Research Summary Researchers from a Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, United States analyzed the association of midlife body mass index change with current lifestyle patterns. Over 9,000 men aged 20-40 reported body weight, current dietary habits, TV watching time, physical activity and sleep practices in the Adventist Health Study II, a study of church-goers in the United States and Canada. Statistical analysis showed that men with body mass index above the recommended range were more likely to consume a non-vegetarian diet, and engage in excessive TV watching with little physical activity, and had a shorter sleep duration compared to men with a healthy body mass index.
Reference Pedisic, Zeljko, Anne Grunseit, Ding Ding, Josephine Y. Chau, Emily Banks, Emmanuel Stamatakis, Bin B. Jalaludin, and Adrian E. Bauman. “High sitting time or obesity: Which came first? Bidirectional association in a longitudinal study of 31,787 Australian adults.” Obesity 22, no. 10 (2014): 2126-2130.
Research Summary Researchers examined the relationship of total sitting time, TV-viewing and leisure-time computer use to heart disease risk factors, including obesity. Waist circumference, body mass index, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, blood pressure, non-fasting glucose, and triglycerides were measured in 48,882 adults aged 20 years or older from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study 2006–2008 (HUNT3). The results revealed the participants reporting total sitting time of greater than 10 hours/day was linked with poorer body mass index, waist circumference, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, diastolic blood pressure, systolic blood pressure, non-fasting glucose, GGT, and triglyceride levels compared to those reporting total sitting time less than four hours/day. TV-viewing greater than four hours/day was associated with poorer BMI, waist circumference, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, GGT, and triglycerides compared to TV-viewing less than one hour/day (all p < 0.05). Leisure-time computer use greater than one hour/day was associated with poorer BMI, total cholesterol, diastolic blood pressure, GGT, and triglycerides compared with those reporting no leisure-time computing.
Reference Geravandi, Sahar, Afshin Takdastan, Elahe Zallaghi, Mehdi Vousoghi Niri, Mohammad Javad Mohammadi, Hamed Saki, and Abolfazl Naiemabadi. “Noise pollution and health effects.” Jundishapur Journal of Health Sciences 7, no. 1 (2015).
Research Summary Researchers investigated the effect of noise pollution near roadways on health. Sound pressure level was measured around four high traffic roadways. During the study, 820 measurements were recorded for seven days per week with one-hour interval between each measurement. Statistical analysis showed that the worst noise health effects were high levels of nervousness and poor sleep quality.
EAT IN A STRESS-FREE ENVIRONMENT
Reference Barrington, Wendy E., Shirley AA Beresford, Bonnie A. McGregor, and Emily White. “Perceived stress and eating behaviors by sex, obesity status, and stress vulnerability: findings from the vitamins and lifestyle (VITAL) study.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 114, no. 11 (2014): 1791-1799.
Research Summary Researchers evaluated the relationship between a self-reported amount of perceived stress and dietary intake from fat, carbohydrates, and added sugar and dietary behaviors (number of eating occasions and servings of fruits and vegetables, high-fat snacks, fast-food items, and sweetened drinks). The results found that higher perceived stress was associated with greater intake of energy from fat, high-fat snacks, and fast-food items as well as lower intake of energy from fruits and vegetables.
CLOSE RESEARCH STUDIES
Our bodies were made to move—they actually crave exercise. In addition to being necessary for physical fitness and good health, regular exercise is key to weight loss. It reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases; and it can improve your appearance and delay the aging process.
To get active, follow these suggestions:
GET FIT IN 10 You don’t have to fit hours at the gym into your busy schedule. You can do a full workout in just 10 minutes almost anywhere—without expensive equipment. Research shows that 10 minutes of exercise three times a day is enough to boost your metabolism and slim your waist. If you are at home, do jumping jacks and push-ups, walk in place, or try jumping rope. If you are at work, walk around the parking lot or climb the stairs for 10 minutes.
EMBRACE THE WEIGHTS Lifting weights stokes your metabolism for a few days after your workout—meaning you continue burning calories long after you leave the weight room. For best results, combine weight training with your favorite aerobic exercise.
STEP UP YOUR WORKOUT Research shows that high-intensity interval training, in which you alternate bursts of intense exercise with brief rest periods, burns fat more effectively then longer workouts that maintain a steady intensity. Start with a slow walk, and as your body adjusts, increase your intensity and speed until you’re running for a short period of time. Slow down and walk for a few minutes—and then repeat the process.
MAKE IT FUN Exercise should not feel like a chore. To make it more pleasurable, select an activity you enjoy, whether it’s hiking, swimming, or biking. Create a pleasant experience by exercising in a park, working out to your favorite music, or watching a movie or TV show you like while you exercise. Add variety and interest to your weight-loss routine by trying different activities, exercising with friends, or scheduling an appointment with a personal trainer.
DO OUTDOOR CHORES Anytime you get moving, exert your muscles, and work up a sweat, you are exercising. That means you’re burning calories when you do things such as raking leaves, running around the yard with your kids, pulling weeds in the garden, or walking behind a lawn mower. All activity counts!
GET FIT IN 10
Reference Schmidt, W. Daniel, Craig J. Biwer, and Linda K. Kalscheuer. “Effects of long versus short bout exercise on fitness and weight loss in overweight females.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 20, no. 5 (2001): 494-501.
Research Summary Researchers from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, United States, conducted a study to determine if three 10-minute sessions of exercise per day or two 15-minute sessions per day are as effective as one 30-minute session per day for improving fitness and weight loss. Overweight, female college students (body mass index ≥28 kg/m2) were recruited and assessed at baseline and post-treatment for aerobic fitness, weight, skinfold thickness (seven-site), and circumference measures (four-site). Following measurement of resting energy expenditure (REE), subjects were asked to follow a self-monitored calorie restricted diet for a 12-week duration of the study and were assigned to one of four groups: 1) a non-exercising control group; 2) a 30-minute continuous exercise group; 3) a 30-minute accumulated exercise group; and 4) a second 30-minute accumulated exercise group. The exercising subjects participated in aerobic exercise training at 75% of heart rate reserve three to five days per week with all exercise monitored. The results showed that exercise accumulated in several short sessions has a similar effect as one continuous session with regard to aerobic fitness and weight loss during caloric restriction in overweight, young women.
EMBRACE THE WEIGHTS
Reference Villareal, Dennis T., Lina Aguirre, A. Burke Gurney, Debra L. Waters, David R. Sinacore, Elizabeth Colombo, Reina Armamento-Villareal, and Clifford Qualls. “Aerobic or resistance exercise, or both, in dieting obese older adults.” New England Journal of Medicine 376, no. 20 (2017): 1943-1955.
Research Summary Researchers evaluated the effectiveness of several exercise modes in reversing frailty and preventing reduction in muscle and bone mass induced by weight loss. In this clinical trial involving 160 overweight older adults were randomly assigned to a weight management program plus one of three exercise programs, aerobic training, resistance training, or combined, or to a control group (no weight management and no exercise). The primary outcome was the change in Physical Performance Test score from baseline to six months (scores range from 0 to 36 points; higher scores indicate better performance). Secondary outcomes included changes in other frailty measures, body composition, bone mineral density, and physical functions. Of the methods tested, weight loss plus combined aerobic and resistance exercise was the most effective in improving functional status of obese older adults.
STEP UP YOUR WORKOUT
Reference Trapp, E. Gail, Donald J. Chisholm, Judith Freund, and Stephen H. Boutcher. “The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women.” International journal of obesity 32, no. 4 (2008): 684-691.
Research Summary Researchers from University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia determined the effects of a 15-week high-intensity, interval exercise program on decreasing subcutaneous and waist fat and insulin resistance of young women. Participants, 44 women, were randomly assigned to one of the three groups: 1) high-intensity, interval exercise and 2) steady-state exercise or control (no exercise). The exercise groups underwent a 15-week exercise intervention. The results showed that both exercise groups demonstrated a significant improvement in cardiovascular fitness. However, only the high-intensity, interval training group had a significant reduction in total body mass, fat mass, waist fat and fasting plasma insulin levels. There was significant fat loss in legs compared to arms in the high-intensity group only. The conclusion was that high-intensity, interval training three times per week for 15 weeks compared to the same frequency of SSE exercise was associated with significant reductions in total body fat, subcutaneous leg and trunk fat, and insulin resistance in young women.
MAKE IT FUN
Reference Phillips, L. Alison, Pier-Éric Chamberland, Eric B. Hekler, Jessica Abrams, and Miriam H. Eisenberg. “Intrinsic rewards predict exercise via behavioral intentions for initiators but via habit strength for maintainers.” Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology 5, no. 4 (2016): 352.
Research Summary Researchers investigated the experience of intrinsic exercise rewards (enjoyment; stress reduction) may come to function as a factor in exercise automaticity, or habit, and therefore of exercise maintenance. In two studies, self-reported exercise stage (beginner vs. maintainers), intrinsic (internal motivation) exercise rewards, intentions, and habit strength was measured at baseline. For outcomes, Study 1 concurrently assessed self-reported exercise in a sample of 463 U.S. college students, and Study 2 assessed objective activity using accelerometers for one month in a 114 U.S. college student and staff population. The results showed that enjoyable activities may promote exercise repetition for the beginner group and habit strength promotes repetition for the maintenance group. Interventions that foster intrinsic exercise rewards may promote exercise maintenance through habitual action.
Reference Kaushal, Navin, and Ryan E. Rhodes. “Exercise habit formation in new gym members: a longitudinal study.” Journal of behavioral medicine 38, no. 4 (2015): 652-663.
Research Summary Researchers from University of Victoria, Canada, conducted a study to: 1) investigate the behavioural requirements for exercise habit formation and 2) what predicts exercise habit development. Participants were new gym members who completed surveys across 12 weeks. The results found that exercising for at least four sessions per week for six weeks was the minimum requirement to establish an exercise habit. In addition, habit development occurred from simple exercises, pleasant environment, consistency, and participation in enjoyable activities. The conclusion was trainers should keep exercises fun and simple for new clients and focus on consistency which could lead to habit formation in nearly 6 weeks.
DO OUTDOOR CHORES
Reference Matthews, Charles E., Steven C. Moore, Joshua Sampson, Aaron Blair, Qian Xiao, Sarah Kozey Keadle, Albert Hollenbeck, and Yikyung Park. “Mortality benefits for replacing sitting time with different physical activities.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 47, no. 9 (2015): 1833.
Research Summary Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine, United States, followed 154,614 older adults (59–82 years) in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study who reported no major chronic diseases at baseline and reported detailed information about sitting time, exercise, non-exercise activities. The results showed that during 6.8 years of follow-up 12,201 deaths occurred. Greater sitting time (greater than 12 vs. greater than 5 hours/day) was associated with increased risk for premature death from all causes. In less active adults (less than two hours/day total activity), replacing one hour of sitting per day with an equal amount of activity was associated with lower risk of premature death for both exercise and non-exercise activities, including household chores, lawn and garden work, and daily walking. Among more active participants (two or more hours/day total activity) replacement of sitting time with purposeful exercise was associated with lower risk of premature death, but not with non-exercise activity. The findings suggest that reducing sitting time and engaging in a variety of activities is also important.
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TRUST IN GOD
When you are undertaking a major transformation, such as a weight-loss program, it’s easy to feel alone and overwhelmed. But those are precisely the times in life that it is most important to trust in God. He has provided what you need in the past, and He will continue to lead you toward a healthy, satisfying life.
Take the first step and build trust in God with these methods:
PRAY Without the perfect peace and calm assurance of God, you can spend your days struggling to gain control, always finding yourself in an inner battle with stress and anxiety. Spending time each day in prayer can bring life to your soul, no matter what happens around you. Include more prayer into your life by journaling your thoughts, saying prayers as you take a walk, or thanking God before meals.
BUILD A MEANINGFUL LIFE Most people desire a meaningful life—one of adventure, appreciation, and experience. But how do you find a path that will lead to your life’s purpose? Think back to your childhood and the things that made you happy. It may have been spending time with friends, playing music, reading, learning new hobbies, playing, or cooking. As you get older, it’s easy to allow the daily grind to bury your passions. Make a pledge today to do something that makes you happy — something you have not done in a long time. Even better, ask someone you love to join you. These small moments will lead to a more meaningful life.
PRACTICE FORGIVENESS Some people hang on to grievances, because they think offering forgiveness would be letting the other person off the hook. But forgiveness is not actually about the other person. Forgiveness is a gift to yourself that will give you peace and freedom from resentment. The longer you hold on to grudges and bitterness, the more likely you are to have sleepless nights, stress, and other health problems.
FIND YOUR FAITH Throughout your weight-loss journey, you will inevitably face stressful moments. When you focus on God’s love in every situation, you will be more aware of God’s presence and guidance. By seeing His hand in all your life circumstances—the good and the bad—you will know peace, joy, and happiness.
GO TO CHURCH According to research, weekly church attendance can lower your stress and make you happier. Church is more than listening to a sermon and singing hymns: it is belonging to a community. It allows the opportunity to worship with others, pray for others, serve others, and receive the support you need for your journey to healthier living.
TRUST IN GOD
Reference Ellison, Christopher G., Matt Bradshaw, Kevin J. Flannelly, and Kathleen C. Galek. “Prayer, attachment to God, and symptoms of anxiety-related disorders among US adults.” Sociology of Religion 75, no. 2 (2014): 208-233.
Research Summary Researchers examined the relationship between religion and mental health. This study addresses two main questions: 1) Is the frequency of prayer associated with symptoms of anxiety-related disorders among US adults? and 2) Is this association conditional on the nature of individuals’ attachment to God? By using data from 1,511 participants in the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey. Results showed that prayer is associated with decreasing the symptoms of anxiety-related disorders among individuals who have a secure attachment to God, but negatively associated with these outcomes among those who have a more insecure or avoidant attachment to God.
BUILD A MEANINGFUL LIFE
Reference Van Tongeren, Daryl R., Peter C. Hill, Neal Krause, Gail H. Ironson, and Kenneth I. Pargament. “The Mediating Role of Meaning in the Association between Stress and Health.” Annals of Behavioral Medicine (2017): 1-7.
Research Summary Researchers from Biola University, University of Michigan, and University of Miami, United States, examined whether the relationship between stress and health was buffered by meaning in life. Drawing from Wave 1 of the Landmark Spirituality and Health Study, a nationally representative sample of 1,871 participants reported their level of stress in the past 12 months, current meaning in life, health (measured as minor symptoms, major conditions, and overall health), and provided a blood sample for biomarker of immune system functioning. Results revealed that lowered stress was associated with meaning. Higher meaning was related to better self-reported health (across minor, major, and overall health measures), which, in turn, was associated with better immune system functioning. These findings suggest that part of the negative effect of stress on health is accounted for by reduced meaning.
Reference Lambert, Nathaniel M., Tyler F. Stillman, Joshua A. Hicks, Shanmukh Kamble, Roy F. Baumeister, and Frank D. Fincham. “To belong is to matter: Sense of belonging enhances meaning in life.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 39, no. 11 (2013): 1418-1427.
Research Summary Researchers from Brigham Young University, United States, conducted four different studies with 644 participants in total. Study 1 found a strong relationship between sense of belonging and meaningfulness. Study 2 found that initial levels of sense of belonging predicted perceived meaningfulness of life, obtained 3 weeks later. Studies 3 and 4 primed participants with belongingness, social support, or social value and found that those primed with belongingness (Study 3) or who increased in belongingness (Study 4) reported the highest levels of perceived meaning.
Reference Silton, Nava R., Kevin J. Flannelly, and Laura J. Lutjen. “It pays to forgive! Aging, forgiveness, hostility, and health.” Journal of Adult Development 20, no. 4 (2013): 222-231.
Research Summary Researchers explored the relationships among age, forgiveness, hostility, and subjective health were examined in a sample of 1,629 US adults who completed a Web-based survey sponsored by Spirituality and Health magazine. Statistical analysis showed a significant relationship between health and forgiveness. In addition, a relationship between the lack of forgiveness and hostility, leading to poor health. These findings thus support the notion that as one ages, forgiveness may serve as an indirect health benefit by reducing hostility.
Reference Toussaint, Loren, Grant S. Shields, Gabriel Dorn, and George M. Slavich. “Effects of lifetime stress exposure on mental and physical health in young adulthood: How stress degrades and forgiveness protects health.” Journal of health psychology 21, no. 6 (2016): 1004-1014.
Research Summary Researchers from Luther College, University of California, Davis, United States, examined the risk and resilience factors that affect health, lifetime stress exposure histories, forgiveness levels, and mental and physical health were assessed in 148 young adults. Analysis showed that greater lifetime stress severity and lower levels of forgiveness each predicted worse mental and physical health. It also revealed the relationship between stress and mental health were weaker for persons showing more forgiveness. This study suggests that developing a more forgiving coping style may help minimize stress-related disorders.
FIND YOUR FAITH
Reference Krok, Dariusz. “Value systems and religiosity as predictors of non-religious and religious coping with stress in early adulthood.” Archives of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy 3 (2015): 21-31.
Research Summary Researchers investigated whether values and religiosity could be a good predictor of non-religious and religious coping styles in early adulthood. The study included 209 participants randomly recruited in southern Poland. Their ages ranged from 20 to 40 years. All participants were asked to fill in four questionnaires: Scheler Values Scale, Centrality of Religiosity Scale, Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations and Brief RCOPE Scale. The results showed values and religious faith serve as a meaning system that enables individuals to interpret difficult events and effectively cope with distress. An individual’s religious beliefs and values help them to better understand the situation and find means of overcoming its negative consequences.
Reference Harris, Grant M., Rebecca S. Allen, Linda Dunn, and Patricia Parmelee. ““Trouble Won’t Last Always” Religious Coping and Meaning in the Stress Process.” Qualitative Health Research 23, no. 6 (2013): 773-781.
Research Summary Researchers from University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama School of Health Science, United States explored the experience of religious faith, organizational religious affiliation, and one’s relationship with God among older adults with advanced chronic illness. Research questions included: How is religious coping experienced in this context? How is a relationship with God experienced in coping? How is meaning experienced in this context? Brief qualitative interviews uncovered descriptions of experiences using the qualitative descriptive method. Three themes were identified: God is a Provider, one’s religion and relationship with God when coping is essential, and the God–person relationship is intimate. Care recipients coped through their personal relationship with God, whereas caregivers coped through religious beliefs and support.
GO TO CHURCH
Reference Taylor, Robert Joseph, Linda M. Chatters, Karen D. Lincoln, and Amanda Toler Woodward. “Church-based exchanges of informal social support among African Americans.” Race and social problems 9, no. 1 (2017): 53-62.
Research Summary Researchers from University of Michigan and University of Southern California, United States, studied the relationship between interpersonal support that occur between church members among African Americans. Interpersonal support exchanges were as follows: 1) transportation assistance; 2) help with chores; 3) financial assistance; and 4) help during an illness. Data for the study are from the National Survey of American Life Re-Interview, the follow-up survey to the National Survey of American Life which is a nationally representative sample of the African American population. The results found that higher levels of religious service attendance were associated with higher levels of support, which underscores the importance of involvement in faith communities for assistance. Overall, the findings confirm the importance of church-based informal social support between African Americans.
Reference Jung, Jong Hyun. “Religious attendance, stress, and happiness in South Korea: Do gender and religious affiliation matter?” Social indicators research 118, no. 3 (2014): 1125-1145.
Research Summary Researchers explored two important questions, is religious service attendance associated with happiness? And if yes, can religious attendance buffer against the harmful effect of stress on happiness? Data was collected from 1,599 participants enrolled in the 2009 Korean General Social Survey. The results reveal that religious attendance is associated with higher levels of happiness in South Korea. A higher level of church attendance buffers against the negative effects of stress on happiness.
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In many ways, the quality of your life is derived from the quality of your relationships. It is through relating with other human beings that you grow and evolve. The people you surround yourself with can influence your weight loss success.
Try these methods to find the support you need:
STOP FLYING SOLO People on weight-loss plans are more likely to succeed if they have the support of family members or friends. Let your loved ones know you are making changes, and don’t be afraid to ask them not to offer you foods you are trying to avoid. In fact, invite them to join you on your weight-loss journey. You will be less likely to skip your workout or cheat on your diet if you know you have a buddy checking on you.
INVOLVE YOUR COWORKERS It’s harder to stick to your weight-loss plan when you have to dodge the vending machines, the break room doughnuts, and your office mate’s candy bowl. Encourage your workplace to join you on your wellness journey, and you just might make some of those temptations disappear. Set up an office weight-loss challenge to create friendly competition and camaraderie, and your incentive to stick to your plan will intensify. One person might be the official winner, but everyone will win from getting healthier.
WALK THE DOG Researchers found that dog owners are 34 percent more likely to walk the recommended 30 minutes a day than people without canine companions. Beyond those daily walks, dogs keep their owners moving even more by increasing their leisure-time activity by 69 percent.
CONSIDER A COACH Embarking on a weight-loss journey will bring physical and emotional challenges. A wellness coach has been trained to help you meet your physical goals, while supporting your emotional well-being along the way. Consider splurging a little to kickstart your journey. Find a wellness coach that is a good fit for you. Choose someone who personifies your ideal lifestyle or get a referral from someone you trust.
FIND SUPPORT Looking for a support group? Just reach for your phone. There are literally thousands of groups you can find online, many of them free. Look for groups that offer support for your local area or your specific needs, such as emotional eating. Take advantage of support groups’ weight-loss tools, such as logs to track your weight, food, and exercise.
STOP FLYING SOLO
Reference Wang, Monica L., Lori Pbert, and Stephenie C. Lemon. “Influence of family, friend and coworker social support and social undermining on weight gain prevention among adults.” Obesity 22, no. 9 (2014): 1973-1980.
Research Summary Researchers from University of Massachusetts Medical School, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, United States, examined long-term associations between sources of social support for healthy eating and physical activity and weight change. Data was used from 633 employed adults participating in a weight gain prevention program. Primary predictors included social support and social undermining for two types of behaviors (healthy eating and physical activity) from three sources (family, friends, and coworkers) obtained via self-administered surveys. The primary outcome (weight in kg) was measured by trained staff. Data were collected at baseline, 12 months, and 24 months. Statistical analysis revealed that among adult employees, friend and coworker support for healthy eating, and family support for physical activity predicted improved weight management at 24 months. Family social undermining for healthy eating was associated with weight gain at 24 months.
INVOLVE YOUR COWORKERS
Reference Bennett, Damien, Tracy Owen, and D. T. Bradley. “The£ for lb. Challenge. Evaluation of a novel, workplace-based peer-led weight management programme, 2014–2016.” Public Health 150 (2017): 93-100.
Research Summary Researchers from Public Health Agency, United Kingdom evaluated a novel country-wide workplace based, peer-led weight management program with participants from a range of private and public organizations in Northern Ireland. The intervention was workplace-based, led by volunteer co-worker champions and incorporated dietary advice, physical activity, behavior change methods and weekly weight monitoring. It ran from January to April in three consecutive years (2014-2016). Overweight adult workers were eligible. Training of peer champions involved two half-day workshops delivered by dieticians and physical activity professionals. Employers and/or participants pledged £1 to charity for every pound of weight lost. Weight was reported at enrolment and at either 12-weeks (2014) or at 12 weekly intervals (2015-2016). Changes in weight, weight percentage, and body mass index were determined for all the participants. The results of the “£ for lb. challenge” was an effective, low-cost health improvement intervention with a weight loss of greater than five percent body weight for the majority of the participants. With high levels of engagement and ownership, and successful collaboration between public health, voluntary bodies, private companies, and public organizations.
WALK THE DOG
Reference Bennett, Damien, Tracy Owen, and D. T. Bradley. “The£ for lb. Challenge. Evaluation of a novel, workplace-based peer-led weight management programme, 2014–2016.” Public Health 150 (2017): 93-100.
Research Summary Researchers from Public Health Agency, United Kingdom, valuated a novel country-wide workplace based, peer-led weight management program with participants from a range of private and public organizations in Northern Ireland. The intervention was workplace-based, led by volunteer co-worker champions and incorporated dietary advice, physical activity, behavior change methods and weekly weight monitoring. It ran from January to April in three consecutive years (2014-16). Overweight adult workers were eligible. Training of peer champions involved two half-day workshops delivered by dieticians and physical activity professionals. Employers and/or participants pledged £1 to charity for every pound of weight lost. Weight was reported at enrolment and at either 12- weeks (2014) or at 12 weekly intervals (2015-16). Changes in weight and % weight, and body mass index were determined for all the participants. The results of the “£ for lb. Challenge” was an effective, low-cost health improvement intervention with a weight loss of greater than five percent body weight for the majority of the participants. With high levels of engagement and ownership, and successful collaboration between public health, voluntary bodies, private companies and public organizations.
CONSIDER A COACH
Reference Clark, Matthew M., Karleah L. Bradley, Sarah M. Jenkins, Emily A. Mettler, Brent G. Larson, Heather R. Preston, Juliette T. Liesinger et al. “The effectiveness of wellness coaching for improving quality of life.” In Mayo Clinic Proceedings, vol. 89, no. 11, pp. 1537-1544. Elsevier, 2014.
Research Summary Researchers from the Mayo Clinic conducted a study to learn more about the potential psychosocial benefits of wellness coaching. A total of 100 employees who completed the 12-week wellness coaching program were of a mean age of 42 years, 90% were women, and most were overweight or obese were recruited. Three areas of psychosocial functioning were assessed: quality of life, depressive symptoms, and perceived stress level. Participants were recruited from January 1, 2011, through December 31, 2011; data were collected up to July 31, 2012, and were analyzed from August 1, 2012, through October 31, 2013. The results showed that all the individuals that completed the program exhibited significant improvement in all areas including quality of life, reduction in levels of depression symptoms and reduced perceived stress level. They maintained the improvements at the 24-week follow up.
Reference Pagoto, Sherry L., Kristin L. Schneider, Jessica Oleski, Brian Smith, and Michael Bauman. “The adoption and spread of a core-strengthening exercise through an online social network.” Journal of Physical Activity and Health 11, no. 3 (2014): 648-653.
Research Summary Researchers from University of Massachusetts Medical School, United States, conducted a feasibility study to determine the engagement and spread of a Twitter-based core strengthening challenge. A challenge that entailed completing a core-strengthening exercise using a hashtag (#PlankADay) was circulated via Twitter. This study surveyed users who joined during the first two months of the challenge to describe their characteristics, including social support for exercise and to what extent they invited others to join. The study continued to track total users for 10 months. Participants reported that online friends provided as much positive social support for exercise as family and in-person friends. In 14 months, 4,941 users produced 76,746 tweets and mean total tweets per user was 15.86. Conclusion, online social networks may be a promising tool to spread brief exercise behaviors.
Reference Aguilar-Martínez, Alicia, Josep M. Solé-Sedeño, Gemma Mancebo-Moreno, F. Xavier Medina, Ramon Carreras-Collado, and Francesc Saigí-Rubió. “Use of mobile phones as a tool for weight loss: a systematic review.” Journal of telemedicine and telecare 20, no. 6 (2014): 339-349.
Research Summary Researchers from Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain conducted a systematic review on the use of mobile phones for weight loss. A total of 43 studies were identified on overweight adults, aged 18 years or over. After review, 10 articles met the criteria. Participants were from European, Asian, and North American regions. Most of the other studies used mobile-phone apps or web-based programs that could be accessed from mobile phones as a part of a weight-loss intervention. Most studies lasted two-four months and the maximum duration was one year. The majority of two studies showed reductions in the participants’ body weight, BMI, waist circumference, and body fat in the various interventions. Frequent self-recording of weight seemed to be important, as was counseling and feedback. Finally, a social support system acted as a motivational tool.
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A positive attitude helps you cope with the daily demands of life. It also brings motivation and makes it easier to conquer worry and negative thinking. If you want to increase your joy—and your chances of reaching your weight-loss goals—it’s time to start looking on the bright side.
To think more positive, practice these methods:
THINK POSITIVE When you’re trying to lose weight, negative thoughts can lead to self-defeating behaviors, such as giving up on your meal plan, overeating, or skipping exercise. Instead of focusing on the least appealing aspects of weight loss, such as portion control, focus on the benefits, such as increased energy and health. Positive thinking plays a major role in weight-loss efforts and can inspire and motivate you to stick with it.
PAY ATTENTION TO WHY Every time you reach for food, ask yourself if you are eating because you are hungry—or because you are bored or looking to numb negative emotions. Be your own food detective, and start to notice how you feel, both physically and emotionally, after eating certain foods. Are you satisfied, energized, and feeling that you have nourished yourself well? Or do you feel guilty and sluggish? If you are feeling bad, don’t beat yourself up. Just make a commitment to choose healthier foods next time.
FIND COMFORT DIFFERENTLY Studies have shown that many people use food to comfort and reward themselves. To change that habit, brainstorm a list of simple, enjoyable activities that are not related to food, such as soaking in the bathtub, going to a movie, reading a book, or listening to music. When faced with an upsetting situation or overwhelming craving, comfort yourself with one of those non-food alternatives instead.
APPRECIATE YOUR LIFE Gratitude has been scientifically proven to strengthen the immune system and make you happier and less stressed. That makes thankfulness an important part of a successful weight-loss plan, because constantly feeling stressed can lead to weight gain. Being grateful has the power to block out negative emotions—after all, you can’t pay attention to what is missing if you train your mind to pay attention to what is going well. Set aside time on a daily basis to reflect on your appreciation for ordinary events, personal attributes, and valued people in your life.
DON’T BE CRITICAL Thinking negative thoughts about yourself is a guaranteed way to sabotage all your hard work. When you feel powerless, depressed, or unmotivated, you’re more likely to skip your daily workout or eat a bag of potato chips to feel better. Instead of being a self-critic, talk to yourself like you would a loving friend—with patience, compassion, and enthusiasm for the hard work you are undertaking. Listen carefully to the messages you give yourself, and change the negative ones into positive ones.
Reference Benyamini, Yael, and Olga Raz. “I can tell you if I’ll really lose all that weight”: dispositional and situated optimism as predictors of weight loss following a group intervention.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 37, no. 4 (2007): 844-861.
Research Summary Researchers investigated the role of optimism in weight loss following a group intervention. Findings showed that optimism with higher goals, and greater confidence in their attainment predicted greater weight loss. The findings suggest that people possess quite accurate knowledge of their chances of success, which could be used to tailor interventions to participants.
PAY ATTENTION TO WHY
Reference Konttinen, Hanna, Satu Männistö, Sirpa Sarlio-Lähteenkorva, Karri Silventoinen, and Ari Haukkala. “Emotional eating, depressive symptoms and self-reported food consumption. A population-based study.” Appetite 54, no. 3 (2010): 473-479.
Research Summary Researchers from Department of Social Psychology, University of Helsinki, Finland examined the relationship between emotional eating and depression with the consumption of sweet and non-sweet energy-dense foods and vegetables/fruit. The participants were 1,679, 25-64 year old Finnish men and women from the FINRISK 2007 Study. Validated questionnaires were used. Results showed that emotional eating and depressive symptoms were positively associated, and both were related to a higher body mass index. Emotional eating was related to a higher consumption of sweet foods.
Reference Leehr, Elisabeth J., Kerstin Krohmer, Kathrin Schag, Thomas Dresler, Stephan Zipfel, and Katrin E. Giel. “Emotion regulation model in binge eating disorder and obesity-a systematic review.” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 49 (2015): 125-134.
Research Summary Researchers from University of Tuebingen, Germany reviewed literature for experimental studies investigating the emotional eating in obese patients with and without binge eating. Our search resulted in 18 experimental studies examining the triggering effect of negative emotions for binge eating or its effects on subsequent relief. The results found evidence indicating that negative emotions serve as a trigger for binge eating in the binge eating group unlike the obese group without binge eating.
FIND COMFORT DIFFERENTLY
Reference Bennett, Jessica, Geoffrey Greene, and Donna Schwartz-Barcott. “Perceptions of emotional eating behavior. A qualitative study of college students.” Appetite 60 (2013): 187-192.
Research Summary Researchers from University of Rhode Island, United States conducted an exploratory qualitative study, including three-day food journals and in-depth interviews, with a sampling of eight male and eight female undergraduate students to gain an understanding of students’ perceptions of their emotional eating behaviors. Participants were selected based on their emotional eating scores on the Weight Related Eating Questionnaire from a larger survey assessing student eating behaviors. Findings from the qualitative analyses indicated gender differences and similarities. Females identified stress as the primary trigger for emotional eating, frequently followed by guilt. Males were primarily triggered by unpleasant feelings such as boredom or anxiety turning to food as a distraction; however, males were less likely to experience guilt after an emotional eating episode than females. During emotional eating episodes, both genders chose what they defined as unhealthful foods.
APPRECIATE YOUR LIFE
Reference Southwell, Sharon, and Emma Gould. “A randomised wait list-controlled pre–post–follow-up trial of a gratitude diary with a distressed sample.” The Journal of Positive Psychology 12, no. 6 (2017): 579-593.
Research Summary Researchers conducted a study to explore the relationship between anxiety, stress, sleep difficulties and the use of gratitude. In a randomized wait list-controlled trial with repeated measures pre-, post-, and follow-up design, 109 participants with a current self-reported diagnosis of an anxiety disorder and/or depression, took part in an internet-based study. After completing a three-week gratitude diary returning participants had lower scores on measures of depression, anxiety, stress, and perceived sleep difficulties and higher scores of well-being.
Reference Lee, Ju-Yeon, Seon-Young Kim, Kyung-Yeol Bae, Jae-Min Kim, Il-Seon Shin, Jin-Sang Yoon, and Sung-Wan Kim. “The association of gratitude with perceived stress and burnout among male firefighters in Korea.” Personality and Individual Differences 123 (2018): 205-208.
Research Summary Researchers examined the association of gratitude with perceived stress and burnout in firefighters. A total of 464 male firefighters completed four self-administered questionnaires. Statistical analysis revealed that gratitude was associated with lowered stress and feelings of burnout.
DON’T BE CRITICAL
Reference de França, Giovanny Vinícius Araújo, Denise Petrucci Gigante, and Maria Teresa Anselmo Olinto. “Binge eating in adults: prevalence and association with obesity, poor self-rated health status and body dissatisfaction.” Public health nutrition 17, no. 4 (2014): 932-938.
Research Summary Researchers from University of Vale do Rio dos Sinos, São Leopoldo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil studied the prevalence of episodes of binge eating related with satisfaction with current body weight, self-rated health status, and self-rated body weight. Binge eating was assessed in 2,097 participants using validated questions from the Brazilian Portuguese version of the Questionnaire on Eating and Weight Patterns and was defined as binging one or more times over the last three months before the interview. The results showed a high prevalence of binge eating among adults in Pelotas, being higher among young women, the obese and those who desired to weigh less.
Reference Gavin, Amelia R., Greg E. Simon, and Evette J. Ludman. “The association between obesity, depression, and educational attainment in women: the mediating role of body image dissatisfaction.” Journal of psychosomatic research 69, no. 6 (2010): 573-581.
Research Summary Researchers from University of Washington examined the role of body image dissatisfaction on the development of obesity and depression among a population based sample of women aged 40-65. Data was obtained from a telephone interview of 4,543 female health plan enrollees, including self-reported height and weight, the Patient Health Questionnaire assessment of depression, and a measure of body image dissatisfaction. The results suggested that body image dissatisfaction was a significant risk factor for depression and obesity among middle-aged women.
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Eating a healthy diet is central to any successful weight-loss plan. Plus, food provides your body with the energy, protein, essential fats, vitamins, and minerals you need to live a long, healthy life. To achieve your optimum weight, make long-term changes to the way you eat, rather than relying on a quick-fix diet.
To meet your weight-loss goals and get the nutrition you need, follow these tips:
PILE ON THE VEGGIES Eating a plant-based diet rich in whole fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains is essential to good health and weight loss. Gradually add more plant foods into your daily meals by replacing unhealthy foods, such as chips or cookies, with a fruit or veggie. As you eat more fruits and vegetables, you’ll find that your taste buds will change, and you will begin to enjoy the new flavors.
MINIMIZE PROCESSED FOODS Making meals from scratch may seem too time-consuming, but relying on frozen dinners and packaged products will not help you reach your goals. Making an effort to cook your own meals will reduce your calories and take control of your weight. When you go grocery shopping, walk past the “bag and box” aisles of processed foods, and head for the fresh produce area instead.
DRINK MOSTLY WATER Experts point to soda as one of the top causes of weight gain. Soda and juice are essentially liquid candy: a 20-ounce serving contains up to 18 teaspoons of sugar and upwards of 240 calories, all while providing zero nutrition. Similarly, drinking alcohol quickly runs up the calories. A single serving of beer, wine, or spirits is about 125 calories, and many of today’s fishbowl-sized glasses hold three servings, approximately 375 calories. So, make zero-calorie water your beverage of choice. To give it more flavor, add fruit slices, such as orange or lemon.
EAT EARLIER IN THE DAY You’ve heard it before: start your day with a balanced breakfast. This advice bears repeating, because eating first thing in the morning can decrease cravings and binge eating later in the day. Recent studies have also shown that eating the majority of your daily calories before 3:00 p.m. can help keep your weight under control. Set an eating schedule for yourself that includes breakfast and a large midday lunch, with only a small snack after 3:00 p.m.
LIMIT YOUR PORTIONS There are two aspects to eating less. First, eat smaller quantities of “problem foods”—solid fats and added sugar. These foods account for about 800 daily calories. That’s almost half the calories a woman should have in a day. U.S. dietary guidelines recommend limiting solid, trans, and saturated fats and cutting back on fast foods and refined grains, such as white bread. While you’re at it, aim to cut down on sodium (salt), too. The second is to control portion size. Super-sized meals pack a big calorie punch, so educate yourself on healthy serving sizes. To control meal size at home, serve meals on small plates. And organize your kitchen cupboards so that small plates are the easiest to reach, while big plates are on a higher shelf.
PILE ON THE VEGGIES
Reference Barnard, Neal D., Joshua Cohen, David JA Jenkins, Gabrielle Turner-McGrievy, Lise Gloede, Amber Green, and Hope Ferdowsian. “A low-fat vegan diet and a conventional diabetes diet in the treatment of type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled, 74-wk clinical trial–.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 89, no. 5 (2009): 1588S-1596S.
Research Summary Researchers from George Washington University School of Medicine, United States compared the effects of a low-fat vegan diet and conventional diabetes diet recommendations on blood sugar levels, weight, and cholesterol. Free-living individuals with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to a low-fat vegan diet (eat only plant foods) or a diet following 2003 American Diabetes Association guidelines for 74 weeks. Hemoglobin (HbA1c) and blood lipids were assessed at weeks 0, 11, 22, 35, 48, 61, and 74. Weight was measured at weeks 0, 22, and 74. Results showed that both diets were associated with sustained reductions in weight. In an analysis controlling for medication changes, a low-fat vegan diet improved blood sugar balance and cholesterol levels more than did conventional diabetes diet recommendations.
Reference Mishra, S., J. Xu, U. Agarwal, J. Gonzales, S. Levin, and Neal D. Barnard. “A multicenter randomized controlled trial of a plant-based nutrition program to reduce body weight and cardiovascular risk in the corporate setting: the GEICO study.” European journal of clinical nutrition 67, no. 7 (2013): 718-724.
Research Summary Researchers from Clinical Research, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, United States analyzed the effects of a low-fat plant-based diet program on weight loss and body mass index in a multicenter corporate setting. Employees from 10 sites of a major US company with body mass index ≥25 kg/m2 and/or previous diagnosis of type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to either follow a low-fat vegan diet, with weekly group support and work cafeteria options available, or make no diet changes for 18 weeks. Dietary intake, body weight, lipid profile, blood pressure, and hemoglobin (HbA1C) were determined at baseline and 18 weeks. The results showed an average weight loss of around 10 pounds for the vegan diet compared to no weight loss in the control group. In addition, there was a significant reduction in total and LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and HbA1C levels for the individuals on the plant-based diet, with no significant change in the control group.
MINIMIZE PROCESSED FOODS
Reference Canella, Daniela Silva, Renata Bertazzi Levy, Ana Paula Bortoletto Martins, Rafael Moreira Claro, Jean-Claude Moubarac, Larissa Galastri Baraldi, Geoffrey Cannon, and Carlos Augusto Monteiro. “Ultra-processed food products and obesity in Brazilian households (2008–2009).” PloS one 9, no. 3 (2014): e92752.
Research Summary Researchers from Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil analyzed the relationships between household availability of ultra-processed products and the prevalence of excess weight. Data was used from the 2008–2009 Household Budget Survey involving a sample of 55,970 Brazilian households. The results showed that greater household availability of ultra-processed food products is positively associated with a higher prevalence of excess weight and obesity in all age groups.
Reference Monteiro, Carlos Augusto, Jean-Claude Moubarac, Renata Bertazzi Levy, Daniela Silva Canella, Maria Laura da Costa Louzada, and Geoffrey Cannon. “Household availability of ultra-processed foods and obesity in nineteen European countries.” Public health nutrition (2017): 1-9.
Research Summary Researchers from Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, University of São Paulo, Av. Dr. Arnaldo, Center for Epidemiological Research in Nutrition and Health, University, Brazil analyzed the association between availability of ultra-processed foods and prevalence of obesity in 19 European countries. Estimates of ultra-processed foods calculated from national household budget surveys conducted between 1991 and 2008. Estimates of obesity prevalence were obtained from national surveys. A significant positive association was found between national household availability of ultra-processed foods and national prevalence of obesity among adults. Each percentage point increase in the household availability of ultra-processed foods resulted in an increase of 0·25 percentage points in obesity prevalence.
DRINK MOSTLY WATER
Reference Pan, An, Vasanti S. Malik, Tao Hao, Walter C. Willett, Dariush Mozaffarian, and Frank B. Hu. “Changes in water and beverage intake and long-term weight changes: results from three prospective cohort studies.” International journal of obesity 37, no. 10 (2013): 1378-1385.
Research Summary Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, United States, and National University of Singapore and National University Health System, Singapore examined the long-term relationship between changes in water and beverage consumption and weight change. Data was used of 50,013 women aged 40–64 years in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS, 1986–2006), 52 987 women aged 27-44 years in the NHS II (1991–2007) and 21,988 men aged 40-64 years in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986–2006) without obesity and chronic diseases at start of study. Assessment was completed of the association of weight change within each four year interval, with changes in beverage intakes and other lifestyle behaviors during the same period. Statistical analysis reveals the participants gained an average of 2.2 pounds within each four-year period. Each one cup of water added per day to diet was associated with a decrease in weight gain. The association for other sugar-sweetened beverages increased weight gain. Conclusion, the replacement of one serving per day of sugar sweetened beverage by one cup of water helped decrease long-term weight gain.
Reference Basu, Sanjay, Martin McKee, Gauden Galea, and David Stuckler. “Relationship of soft drink consumption to global overweight, obesity, and diabetes: a cross-national analysis of 75 countries.” American journal of public health 103, no. 11 (2013): 2071-2077.
Research Summary Researchers from Stanford University, United States estimated the relationship between soft drink consumption and obesity and diabetes in 75 countries. Data was obtained from the Euromonitor Global Market Information Database, the World Health Organization, and the International Diabetes Federation. Bottled water consumption, served as a natural control group. Soft drink consumption increased globally from 9.5 gallons per person per year in 1997 to 11.4 gallons in 2010. A 1% rise in soft drink consumption was associated with an additional 4.8 overweight adults per 100, 2.3 obese adults per 100, and 0.3 adults with diabetes per 100.
Reference Kaiser, Kathryn A., James M. Shikany, Karen D. Keating, and David B. Allison. “Will reducing sugar‐sweetened beverage consumption reduce obesity? Evidence supporting conjecture is strong, but evidence when testing effect is weak.” Obesity Reviews 14, no. 8 (2013): 620-633.
Research summary Researchers from University of Alabama at Birmingham conducted a meta-analysis on the effects of sugar-sweetened beverages on body weight. Data was used from studies examining effects of consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. The results showed that people who were overweight at the start of the study had a significant weight gain from drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, when compared to the control groups. The conclusion is that decreasing sugar-sweetened consumption will reduce the prevalence of obesity.
Reference Shelton, Nicola Jane, and Craig S. Knott. “Association between alcohol calorie intake and overweight and obesity in English adults.” American journal of public health 104, no. 4 (2014): 629-631.
Research Summary Researchers investigated the relationship between calories derived from drinking alcohol and weight gain. Adult alcohol calorie intake of 8,864 participants was derived from consumption volume and drink type in the Health Survey for England 2006. The results showed that alcohol calorie consumption was 27% of the recommended daily calorie intake in men and 19% in women on the heaviest drinking day in the last week, had a positive association between alcohol calories and obesity. Alcohol calories were revealed to be a significant contributor to the rise in obesity.
EAT EARLIER IN THE DAY
Reference Wang, J. B., R. E. Patterson, A. Ang, J. A. Emond, N. Shetty, and L. Arab. “Timing of energy intake during the day is associated with the risk of obesity in adults.” Journal of human nutrition and dietetics 27, no. s2 (2014): 255-262.
Research Summary Researchers from a University of California, San Diego, United States analyzed the relationship between eating in the morning, midday, and evening on body mass index and the risk of obesity. Data was used from the University of California, Los Angeles, Energetics Study. Energy intake was assessed using three 24-hour dietary recalls of morning, midday and evening intake. Statistical analysis revealed that participants who consumed greater their 33% of their daily calories before noon were less likely to be overweight. Those who consumed greater than 33% of their daily energy intake in the evening were two-fold more likely to be overweight.
Reference Garaulet, Marta, Purificación Gómez-Abellán, Juan J. Alburquerque-Béjar, Yu-Chi Lee, Jose M. Ordovás, and Frank AJL Scheer. “Timing of food intake predicts weight loss effectiveness.” International journal of obesity 37, no. 4 (2013): 604-611.
Research Summary Researchers from University of Murcia, Spain evaluated the relationship between the time you eat during the day and weight loss effectiveness in a sample of 420 individuals who followed a 20-week weight loss program. Participants were grouped in early eaters and late eaters group, according to the timing of the main meal (lunch in this Mediterranean population). 51% of the subjects were early eaters and 49% were late eaters (lunch time before or after 3:00 p.m. The results showed that the late lunch eaters lost less weight and displayed a slower weight-loss rate during the 20 weeks of treatment than early eaters. In addition, late eaters were more evening types, had less energetic breakfasts and skipped breakfast more frequently than early eaters. The conclusion is that eating late can influence the success of weight loss therapy.
LIMIT YOUR PORTIONS
Reference Faulkner, G. P., L. K. Pourshahidi, J. M. W. Wallace, M. A. Kerr, T. A. McCaffrey, and M. B. E. Livingstone. “Perceived ‘healthiness’ of foods can influence consumers’ estimations of energy density and appropriate portion size.” International journal of obesity 38, no. 1 (2014): 106-112.
Research Summary Researchers from University of Ulsterstudied, United Kingdom examined portion size, perceived energy gained, and anticipated consumption for healthy vs junk food. Three types of food – healthier vs. standard cereals, drinks, and coleslaws were selected. For each food, participants served their own portion size and estimated the energy they would gain from the food. The results showed that participants estimated large portions of the healthier coleslaw than that of the standard version, and perceived all the healthier foods to be lower in energy gain than the junk food alternatives. Portion size estimates of the junk food were generally larger than recommended and the energy gain from the health food was underestimated. In conclusion, the general public need more education on what the choices of food are, and what is the appropriate portion size.
Reference French, Simone A., Nathan R. Mitchell, Julian Wolfson, Lisa J. Harnack, Robert W. Jeffery, Anne F. Gerlach, John E. Blundell, and Paul R. Pentel. “Portion size effects on weight gain in a free living setting.” Obesity 22, no. 6 (2014): 1400-1405.
Research Summary Researchers from University of Minnesota, United States studied the effects of weekday exposure over six months to different lunch sizes on energy intake and body weight in a free-living sample of working adults. Adults were randomly assigned to one of three lunch size groups (400 kcal, 800 kcal, and 1,600 kcal) or to a no-free lunch control group for six months. Weight and energy intake were measured at baseline, and months one, three, and six. Results showed the weekday exposure for 6 months to a 1,600 kcal lunch caused significant increases in total energy intake and weight gain.