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Weight Control and Personal Responsibility

By Edited May 15, 2015 2 14

Personal Responsibility and Your Health

In times gone by, people were left to feel that their doctor was responsible for the condition of their health. That view of health care has been on the decline at about the same rate as the prevalence of the Internet. Today it is accepted that each person is responsible for their own health status; the health care community is there to augment personal efforts and step in when necessary.

A large part of being as healthy as possible is to maintain your weight within  an acceptable range for your height.  Overweight and obesity leads to many health problems that might well be avoided when weight is maintained in an acceptable range.

The scientific community has already determined that overweight and obesity contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and extra wear and tear on your lower extremities and joints. Research is ongoing to determine what other health conditions may be linked to obesity.

Choosing to eat nutritionally balanced, calorie adequate foods each day and participating in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes most days of the week are lifestyle choices that go a long way toward optimal health. These lifestyle choices may be a radical change from your current way of living, but you can work toward them by taking personal responsibility for your health.

Whatever the reasons are that you've become overweight or obese, the solution to this health issue lies within you.  Whether you decide you need some counseling to deal with emotional issues that have lead to a lifetime or years of poor lifestyle choices or whether you feel you can handle the emotional aspects of your lifestyle choices yourself, you are in charge of the situation.

Overweight and Obesity Statistics for Americans Aged 18 and Over

Overweight and Obesity Statistics for Americans Aged 18 and Over
Credit: SOURCES: CDC/NCHS, Health, United States, 2008, Figure 7. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

How to Take Personal Responsibility for Weight Management

Health care providers vary in their approaches to encouraging patients to take personal responsibility in their own health, even when it comes to overweight and obesity.  There are a number of reasons this occurs, but if you broach the subject first, you can be fairly certain your health care provider will happily follow your lead.

Like most other problem behaviors, of which overeating is one, the first step in personal responsibility is to recognize you have a problem.

Truthfully, many of us do acknowledge intellectually that being overweight or obese is problematic. We also decide we're going to "do something about it."  Too often, that's as far as we get. That's because for a lot of people, food is more than energy and nutrition for the body.

Eating fills a void, or relieves boredom, or cushions a person from intimacy -- or any one of many reasons that people may have.

Unknowingly, we allow these other reasons to stand in the way of moving forward to better health. These other reasons cause us to sabotage our own best interests -- so we have to learn to recognize them for what they are. When we do, we can move forward. The move forward may include counseling to learn to deal with the reasons we overeat, but it should also include a specific plan to begin to address unhealthy habits.

Set a Date to Begin Your Weight Management

The date you choose should be soon after the time you make your decision to become healthier. Today, the day you make your decision is ideal.

Keep a Food, Mood and Activity Diary

Keeping track of what you and when you eat it might be helpful to determine what activities or behaviors/moods are related to your overeating habits. For this type of diary to be helpful, you need to record everything you eat throughout the day, including tasting food as you cook it.

Begin to Move More and Eat Less

You don't have to commit to go to the gym five days a week, nor do you need to reduce your food each day to celery and water.  What you want to develop are new lifestyle habits, not changes that are meant to be short term.

When people go on a "diet," the idea conjured up is a reduced-calorie intake for a short period.  That is not what weight management is about.  Lifestyle changes -- changes in behavior, attitude, and action -- that's what needs to be established.

Short term deprivation of food may lead to weight loss, but when you return to old behaviors and actions, the weight will come right back.  Short term deprivation is often times also unhealthy, so it is counter to the decision you've made to improve your health.

Thirty minutes of moderate physical activity a day isn't as difficult to meet as it sounds. The total time can be broken down into three 10 minute intervals or two 15 minute intervals.

You can stand in place and walk during television commercials. You can park further away from stores and offices, requiring more walking.  Some work places offer rooms for employees' use for exercise;  if so, make use of the facilities during your afternoon break and see how much more energy you have for the rest of your shift.

Be creative with physical activity. You're not limited to calisthenics or weight lifting. Do things you enjoy such as dancing, walking, or gardening.

Motivation Comes From Within

Weight Loss Motivation

Deciding to become healthier is an admirable goal, but you may need more motivation to get going or stay on track.

ObesityAid.org[1828] explains that "assertiveness is personal responsibility in action." Assertive behavior is that behavior in which you take responsibility for your own thoughts and actions and recognize your needs. 

Assertive thoughts and statements are "I" statements instead of "you" statements. Instead of, "You are always belittling me for my weight problem," you would say, "I am uncomfortable when you make statements like that."

Better yet, thinking assertively, you are going to try to distance yourself from people with negative energy, so you might say, "I am uncomfortable when you say those things.  I'm going to have to spend less time with you if you continue to talk to me that way."

Set reasonable goals for yourself.  Recommended weight loss parameters are one to two pounds of weight per week.  Expecting to lose 20 pounds in a month is unreasonable. If you set unreasonable goals, you may lose your motivation for better health and weight loss when your unattainable goals aren't met.

Be kind to yourself. An indulgent choice doesn't change your goal; don't beat yourself up if you eat something that isn't part of your new eating plan. Recognize it for what it is and make the rest of the day positive. You're going to have setbacks now and then; that's how life is. Just move forward.



Jan 9, 2012 5:49pm
How true? This is a very nice article and one which we can all benefit from. Well done.
Jan 9, 2012 9:04pm
EGreen, I'm glad you enjoyed the article. The inspiration for the topic came from my own "ah-ha" moment.
Jan 18, 2012 6:35am
You are so right about everyone needing to take responsibility for their own health care. It has certainly become a fact of life.
Jan 18, 2012 3:43pm
JudyE, I appreciate you stopping by. Speaking for myself, for many decades of my life, I acted as though I was invincible to dis-health. Now in mid-life I've realized that first and foremost my well-being is in my own hands.
Jan 20, 2012 7:52pm
Nice way to focus on personal responsibility for one's health.
Jan 21, 2012 1:34am
AuroraWindsor, I appreciate your comment. I think that sometimes because modern medicine has made such strides in the last 5-6 decades, many people, myself included, assume there is a cure out there for whatever ails us. The problem is, when what ails us is the very foundation of our health and well-being, we are selling ourselves terribly short.
Feb 8, 2012 7:41pm
A great article with a very important message. You are so right, we are responsible for our health. Changing our lifestyle, adding exercise and watching our diet is a small price to pay for good health and hopefully old age. Good job!
Feb 9, 2012 10:39am
Thanks for the read and the comment, Southerngirl09. Certainly the earlier age we are when we take responsibility for our health, the more benefits we'll reap. I'm trying to model healthy lifestyle choices for my grand children in the hopes that some will stick with them for their own benefit.
Feb 15, 2012 12:23pm
Couldn't agree more. It really is up to us to do what's best for our bodies and waistline.
Feb 19, 2012 6:47pm
I appreciate your support, Jack_Luca.
Feb 19, 2012 6:47pm
This comment has been deleted.
Feb 20, 2012 4:16am
These are great suggestions.
Apr 3, 2012 11:03am
Anointedtoday, I appreciate your read and comment. I know I struggle, like many people, to make healthy choices on a daily basis. Some days I succeed better than other days, but I just keep on trying.
Mar 27, 2012 6:20pm
Very helpful article and we do need to hold ourselves responsible, we also need to remember that some people are immobile due to physical and mental illness meaning they are not burning off enough calories.
As a sufferer of depression I know that on days when it is all I can do to function through the day as to what I need to do to keep every one alive, fed and dehydrated, I really couldn't care less about my weight and health. So I have to make sure that I optimize exercise and healthy diet when I am having good days. Nothing in life is black and white, but self responsibility is one factor.
Apr 3, 2012 11:01am
Ddraig, you've brought up an important point. Each person's personal and medical situation will impact his/her ability to follow suggested guidelines for a nutritionally balanced diet and/or regular physical activity.

Emotional issues are one factor, finances are yet another. Some people may lack access to adequate cooking facilities. I'm certain there are many other factors that could be involved, too.

What's most important, I think, is that each of us makes his/her best effort to be healthy. In the years to come, maintenance of good health will be a determining factor in successful aging.

Thank you for the read and the comment.
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  1. "Personal Responsibility Improves Weight Loss Success." ObesityAid.org. 6/2/2009. 30/12/2011 <Web >
  2. Editors "Better Way to Help the Public Lose Weight." The New York Times. 25/3/2010. 30/12/2011 <Web >
  3. Richard Steinbrook, M.D. "Imposing Personal Responsibility for Health." The New England Journal of Medicine. 24/8/2006. 31/12/2011 <Web >

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