We know that obesity is an epidemic. More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese. The statistics are even higher in northeast Michigan. As a community, we need to acknowledge this growing risk, stop ignoring it and make change. We can help people live healthier, more fulfilling lives by encouraging our friends, family and coworkers to adopt daily activity.

The options for fitness are endless, including a walk, a jog, an at-home workout video, Yoga, swimming at the local pool, playing tennis, or going to a health club. There are many ways to be active. For us to tackle obesity, activity has to become a way of life for adults in our community. It needs to be a habit, a non-negotiable in our schedule. It can not be something we do when it’s convenient or good weather or a special occasion. Why? Because we deserve to feel good, to move, to enjoy living in our bodies. We deserve activity and we have to fight for it.

We can help people who want to lose weight by offering support, accountability, encouragement and praise. Obesity is not something to look down on or to judge. It is a real struggle. It impacts people emotionally and physically. Our best line of defense is to change the way we personally live and encourage others around us to do the same.

Why are people obese? For the most part, our lifestyles are to blame. Junk food is toxic on our bodies. Fast food, supersized portions, processed snacks, soda, and candy literally weigh us down and cause a drop in our energy. Our sedentary lifestyles are also harming our bodies. Too much time on the couch or in front of computers is leading us into a dark place for our health. Long hours at work, juggling multiple jobs, financial pressures, and life stress are contributing factors as well.

We pay the price for obesity in many ways. Obesity can increase risk for various preventable deaths, such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Our country faces a lot of threats, but our own health is near the top of the list.

Being obese also costs more. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2015, the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher per year than those of normal weight.

But one of the more immediate consequences is how much obesity can limit someone’s involvement in everyday activities in life, according to Sherry Pagoto, PhD, a nationally recognized expert in behavioral counseling for obesity.

“As people gain weight, they sometimes pull back from recreational activities like playing with kids, hiking or biking and social activities like parties and reunions, for fear of being judged or feeling embarrassed,” she said. This withdrawal from enjoyable activities can lead to depression, anxiety, and social isolation, not to mention more time spent sedentary.”

Bob Lang is a great example of a local community member who tackled his habits to find real health. Not long ago, he realized he was the doctor he had never wanted to become. He instructed patients to eat better and exercise but was not following his own advice.

Lang is a father of two, husband, police officer and owner of a chiropractic office.

Fitness had fallen off his radar. He was overweight, struggled with severe asthma and felt sluggish most days. Junk food, soda, beer and daily desserts like pie, cake and ice cream were derailing his health fast.

Lang decided he needed to walk the walk. A Boot Camp at Bay Athletic Club, followed by a 21 Day Slimdown and three Corporate Fit Challenges brought fitness back to his life. It also gave him more willpower in the kitchen. The accountability was just what Lang needed to keep his healthy lifestyle momentum.

Today he walks the walk. Lang no longer feels like a hypocrite. He needs less medication to control his asthma and he has gone from a size 38 pant to a size 34. His own efforts have inspired those around him to make change.

 

We can all choose to end the trend of obesity. It starts with us and has a ripple effect.