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Living Lighter in Retirement

Obesity is a big problem in the U.S., especially among Baby Boomers. More than one in three is obese, and only one in four gets the recommended amount of aerobic exercise. And obesity can cause chronic illnesses, such as arthritis and diabetes, that impact medical expenses, the ability to get around on your own, and overall quality of life.

The good news is that small changes can contribute to significant weight loss. If you want to slim down, then it's time to begin investing positive action and energy into yourself. Your health and happiness are worth all the efforts you make.

Are your walking shoes laced up yet? Here are a few steps you can take right away:

  1. Schedule an appointment with your physician. Your physician may identify an unexpected contributor to unwanted weight that could be fixed with a change to your current medication or by a specialist or specific therapies. You can also talk about exercise and diet strategies that best suit you.
  2. Write down some realistic goals. Decide on small goals you're ready to commit to, like reducing your daily fat intake or substituting sparkling water for sugary sodas. Also, set up some long-term objectives, such as getting off of medication for hypertension or registering for a 5K race in one year. The weight you lose in the process of getting there will be a bonus.
  3. Move more. Crank up the tunes and let loose. Call a friend to go for a walk. Take your grandkids to the park. Lift hand weights during commercials. Spend a day strolling through a museum. It all adds up.
  4. Decide what's worth the weight. Don't deprive yourself of your favorite foods. Instead, consider what dietary changes you can stand to make, such as eating smaller portions, keeping low-sugar snacks on hand, or using Greek yogurt in place of sour cream.
  5. Honor every achievement. When you reach a milestone – fitting into your favorite jeans or running longer than you ever expected you could – reward yourself with something meaningful.

As you make these changes, remember to be patient with the process. Eating an entire bag of chips before you know what's happened is not likely to undo all your hard work; just dust off the crumbs and move on. When results seem minimal, remind yourself of the less visible benefits of exercise: longer lifespan, better sleep, disease prevention, better bone health, and reduced risk of falls with improved balance and joint support. Once you get started, you're already on your way to a healthier you.

To recap:

  • Obesity affects 31 percent of U.S. citizens aged 45-64.
  • Small changes in diet and exercise can make a positive impact.
  • It's important to keep your physician in the loop.
  • Live a long, healthy, happy life in retirement!

Sources: Mayo Clinic; National Senior Games Association

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