Sheila Olson returns to Yoga Living Project in this week’s installment to share ideas on a holistic approach to losing weight. Read below for insight on this area of quality of life and let us know what you think. If you’d like to offer your opinion on this or any other topic, email Austin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your ideas.


Losing Weight Takes a Holistic Approach

Over 70 percent of Americans over the age of 20 were overweight or obese in 2016, according to the CDC’s most recent study, making it one of the country’s most common and consequential health concerns. What’s more, keeping your weight in check or losing extra pounds often requires a multifaceted approach to wellness that addresses diet, exercise, physical, and even mental health. If you’re one of the majority of Americans who needs to lose weight or you’re seeking ways to keep the number on the scale stable, here is some advice to get you going.


Talk to Your Doctor

Speaking with your healthcare provider is a good step to take no matter where you are on your fitness journey. Your doctor can evaluate you for any physical or mental issues that could be affecting your weight, recommend a nutrition and exercise program to suit your current condition and lifestyle, and help you set goals for improvement, whether that involves bringing down your blood pressure, cutting your levels of harmful cholesterol, or reducing your body fat percentage.

Doctors may also refer you to nutritionists and specialists within their medical network who can help you achieve those objectives. For instance, you may need to speak with a psychologist to develop strategies to deal with emotional eating patterns or work with a sleep specialist, since getting a good night’s sleep can help you lose weight and keep it off by decreasing your cravings for junk foods and increasing your body’s ability to burn calories, among other advantages.


Evaluating Eating Plans

If your doctor gives you the green light, you can also start taking some steps on your own. For instance, you might adopt a Mediterranean-style diet focused on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and legumes, but which can include servings of fish and seafood a couple of times a week. Or you might opt for a “flexitarian” eating plan that emphasizes plant proteins over animal proteins, and includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, according to US News & World Report.  


Increase Physical Activity

Working with a trainer, taking a class at a gym, or trying a new online workout or exercise DVD can be a great way to jumpstart your commitment to exercise or introduce you to fun fitness routines to add to your work out repertoire. For example, trainers often take clients through circuits that might involve squats, boxing, overhead presses, step ups, push ups, and short stints of walking. Such circuits can be adapted according to your fitness level, and help you avoid overuse injuries and boredom.

Fitness facilities offer a wide variety of classes, including everything from low-impact water aerobics to strength training sessions, and many welcome observers who want to watch a class before signing up. Finally, if you’re more comfortable working out on your own at home, set up your own home gym with exercise equipment you can put to good use when your schedule permits. Plus, there are a plethora of DVDs and online workouts, with some options specifically geared toward overweight or obese exercisers, according to Verywell Fit. 

Formal workouts and exercise classes will certainly help you burn calories and build muscle, but it is also important to incorporate physical activity into your everyday life, especially if you want to lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off long term. Make movement a habit throughout the day by skipping the closest parking spot in favor of one farther away from your destination. Walk or bike on errands when possible, and take the dog around a few extra blocks during daily walks. You can also find dog-friendly parks in your area where you can both get some exercise, fresh air, and socialization. Additionally, many communities offer public parks with tennis courts, basketball courts, hiking trails, and more to encourage active hobbies for people of all ages.


There’s no single, simple solution to losing weight and keeping it off, but taking a holistic approach to wellness can help  you gain control over the number on the scale -- and your overall quality of life.

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