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                                 Obesity Articles

     Definition of Obesity   Obesity Health Risks  Start To Exercise     Eating Healthier Food  Conquer the Mental  Measurements to Track

The benefits of beginning an exercise program when you are obese are substantial.  Even moderate levels of exercise can give you amazing results. 


Just about any health related problem you have can be improved with slow and deliberate steps to get back in shape.

Below are some of the benefits you will see as you start your program to get back in shape:

  • Lower your blood pressure 
  • Reduce weight and burn calories 
  • Prevent metabolic syndrome and diabetes 
  • Lower your risk of stroke and heart disease 
  • Lower your risk of cancer 
  • Reduce pain and stress 
  • Improve Balance
  • Improve your circulation
  • Improve your cholesterol, glucose and insulin levels with as little as a 5% to 10% weight loss. 

  What is the Definition of Obesity? 

The definition of obesity is based on your body mass index (BMI) which compares your waist to your height. The following table classifies the degree of obesity based on your BMI. The higher your BMI, the more significant your level of obesity and the more you need to work with your doctor to get serious about getting back in shape.

Definition of Obesity:   BMI (Body Mass Index) over 30

  Waist Measurement over 40" for men,
  35" for women

Classes of Obesity:  

 Class I

  BMI from 30 to 34.9

  Class II

  BMI from 35 to 39.9

  Class III 

  BMI over 40

See our section on BMI to learn how to calculate your BMI and learn about the limitations of the BMI.  Your ultimate goal is a BMI between 18.5 to 24.9 and:

  • a waist measurement of 32.5" to less than 37" for  women 
  • 35" to less than 40" for men, 

but there are many smaller goals to achieve along the path. 

Central Obesity - Weight carried around your middle is harder on your health than weight carried on other parts of your body.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), Weight-control Information Network (WIN), waist measurements identify central obesity with the following measurements: 

  • Men - Greater than 40 inches (101.6 cm)  
  • Women - Greater than 35 inches (88.9 cm) 

Waist Measurements and Central Obesity

Measurements to Track


Body Fat Percentage

Waist Measurements

Measurement Log

Health Risks Associated with Obesity

Your risk for diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoarthritis, liver disease, reproductive problems, metabolic syndrome and sleep apnea increases as your BMI increases. See what the Surgeon General has to say about the consequences of obesity.

How do You Start an Exercise Program?

Obesity adds some challenges to starting an exercise program and requires that you work closely with your healthcare practitioners. Joint and skin problems must be recognized and dealt with to assure that you are able to succeed.

A well rounded exercise program will include:

  • some form of aerobic or cardio-vascular exercise such as walking, cycling, rowing, swimming or walking in water 
  • resistance training to increase your muscle strength and calorie burn 
  • flexibility exercises and exercises that are easy on joints to prevent injuries 
  • a back in shape buddy who will support you and exercise with you 
  • a log or journal to chart your progress and provide motivation  

Breathing and stress reduction exercises are also an integral part of weight reduction.

Bookmark this page and check out each of our references below to get ideas of where you want to begin. Check with your doctor and dietician to map out your plan to get started on your program to get back in shape.  Plan out your meals and workouts for the week.  Update your plan regularly.  Chart your progress.

Activity Log Aquatic Exercise Walking
Strength Training Stretching Breathing
Weight Reduction Exercises for Pain Equipment

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How to Eat Healthier Food? 

There are several approaches to eating healthier food.  Work with your doctor to find a diet that works well with your body type.  The same diet is not effective for everyone.  Your friend may swear by a high protein diet, a low carb diet, a Mediterranean diet or a low glycemic diet, but you may not find their favorite diet helpful to you.

The most important key to a successful diet is that it must be a diet that you are able to stick with, because this is the only way to be successful with any diet.  A diet is not a temporary thing that you do to lose weight.  Your diet is what you eat, day in and day out.  So create a diet that suits you, your body and your goals.

Begin to become aware of how your body feels as you balance out your diet.  Think and feel lighter.  Choose lighter, more energetic food.  Imagine eating healthily on a cellular level and your outer body will reflect the health of your cells.

Use your taste buds to select foods with healthy nutrients.  Be aware when you eat. And pay attention to the effect certain foods have on your body, your feelings, your belly, your energy and your digestive system.

Create new eating habits:

  • Learn your portion distortions. 
  • Eat off of smaller plates. 
  • Chew food thoroughly. 
  • Eat slowly and consciously. 

To be successful with your healthy eating plan, start with just one change at a time.  Tuck an easy success under your belt and then add another change.  Success leads to more success.  Start with something that is easy for you to change:

 Water  switch one of your calorie laden daily beverages to a glass of water
 Grains  switch from white refined breads and grains to whole grains

 switch one serving of fat per day from saturated or trans fat to a  monosaturated fat such as: olive oil, avocado or walnut 

 Veggies  add a vegetable with a different color to your plate

 switch out a protein that has saturated fat, like a marbled steak, to a leaner cut  such as loin or a round cut with the essential amino acids

  • learn how to combine vegetable proteins to get a complete protein, ie combine legumes with seeds, nuts or grains such as beans with rice; toast, tortilla, corn or whole grain pasta  
  • cheeses with lower fat content such as mozzarella, goat, feta, provolone or parmesan 
  • choose about 4 oz of a steak with "round" or "loin" in the name as these are lower in saturated fat, as are grass fed cows 
  • and trim off the fat 
  • learn when to eat
     - Eat protein within 40 minutes of working out to optimize muscle gain.
     - Eat breakfast to avoid overeating later in the day.


 Carbs  switch from a simple carbohydrate (ie sugar, "ose" ) to a more complex carb
 Fiber  gradually increase your fiber intake

Add some of these foods:

 Get Back in Shape with Colorful Veggies

  Back in Shape Veggies


  • Veggies such as Swiss chard, broccoli, peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, cabbage 
  • Proteins like fish, esp. sardines and salmon, eggs, legumes with whole grains, rice, seeds or nuts 
  • Fruits like tomatoes, apricots and peaches, papaya, apples, berries, bananas 

As much as possible choose foods that are local, wild, fresh, frozen at the source or organic. Choose good sources of calcium: yogurt, fat-free milk, spinach, goat's milk and sesame seeds.

And work with your healthcare practitioners to get the right diet for you to succeed.  Try not to think in terms of all or nothing.  Just think in terms of getting started - one step at a time, one new habit at a time, until you gradually begin to see and feel the new you.

In Summary:

  1. Focus on adding healthier food to replace unhealthy eating habits 
  2. Hydrate well with water.  (2 cups of water before each meal.) 
  3. Learn about Nutrient Rich food to replace nutrient poor foods. 
  4. Add another vegetable serving to each meal. 
  5. Use healthier fats such as olive oil in place of butter. 
  6. Replace simple sugars with more complex carbohydrates. 
  7. Consult with you doctor or dietician about which diet is right for you and whether or not protein supplements will help you lose weight safely. 
Healthier Foods
Healthier Food Resources

See additional Obesity Articles

But you probably already know most of this.  Knowing something and doing it are often two different things.  Conquering obesity is often a matter of conquering your mental attitude. 

How do You Conquer Your Mental Attitude?

  The Body Fat Solution: Five Principles for Burning Fat, Building Lean Muscle, Ending Emotional Eating, and Maintaining Your Perfect Weight



Your diet and exercise program will be much more successful when you have a positive mental attitude. If you have tried to lose weight unsuccessfully in the past, make sure to address your mental outlook and beliefs along with your exercise and nutritional programs.

Tom Venuto has an excellent book to get you off to a good start.  Or try his Operation Motivation Program.

Read Tom Venuto's article on beliefs, That Little Thing in Your Head That is Keeping you Fat.


To Improve your relationship with food, read Geneen Roth's book,
   Women Food and God.


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