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The pandemic has caused the USA’s obesity rates to increase. A recent study by Trust for America’s Health found that 16 states had obesity rates of 35% or higher in 2021, an increase from the 12 states that had the same obesity rate in 2019.

The same increase can be observed in childhood obesity rates as well. Research by Johns Hopkins University has shown that more than 50% of America’s young adults — those aged between 18 and 24 — are either obese or overweight. The reduced access to exercise facilities like gyms and sports arenas obviously led to Americans exercising less. The immense stress caused by the pandemic also led to poorer eating habits, causing people to put on more weight.

It can often be difficult and stressful to try and lose weight. There is so much advice out there — most of which is either fraudulent or outright harmful. From diets to personal training, herbal weight loss solutions to power lifting — there is a Facebook page, YouTube channel, TikTok account and blog for seemingly every kind of exercise imaginable, and some which are frankly unimaginable! But the truth is, finding ways to keep off the pounds doesn’t have to be anything stress inducing. Let’s look at some simple tips to help you find your perfect weight loss strategy.

Find an exercise routine you like doing. At any given point in time, there’s always a different trending exercise. Whether it’s aerial yoga, spin, or high intensity interval training, it often seems like people find new ways to exercise almost every day. While it’s good to try out different exercises, don’t be peer pressured into doing something you won’t enjoy. If you spend your whole workout thinking about how much you hate it, you won’t be able to commit yourself fully and therefore won’t be able to derive all the benefits. Exercise doesn’t just help your body, it helps your mind too. You’ll know you’ve found the right exercise for you when you lose yourself in it and are surprised when your workout comes to an end. By all means, try out the newer trends, but don’t forget about old stalwarts like jogging, swimming, or a good game of tennis or badminton. There’s no reason why exercise shouldn’t be fun and rewarding!

Eating right doesn’t mean eating less. The principle behind effective diets is simple — burn more calories than you take in. That’s all it takes. How you do this is totally up to you. There is no shortage of diets out there — there’s the high-fat, low-carb keto diet, the supposedly “all-natural” paleo diet, the intermittent fasting diet in which you only eat within a certain interval, and more. There are some general principles all these diets have in common — no processed foods, less sugar, and less carbs. Don’t chain yourself to any one diet. A diet has to be maintained consistently for it to work — trying an over-restrictive diet which you will just abandon after a few weeks is not going to help you. If not eating certain foods isn’t working, try smaller portion sizes. Maintaining the discipline needed for a diet is hard, don’t make it harder by trying to achieve the impossible. Know yourself and your limits and try to work with them instead of pushing against them.

Don’t expect instant results. Losing weight is a long term process. Results could take weeks or even months to show. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t drop a dress size right away. It’s important to remember that the most important factors in losing weight are willpower and discipline. You have to stick to your chosen diet and exercise routine to lose weight — and after that, to maintain your desired weight. It will be difficult at first, especially if you underestimate the level of commitment it takes. If you eat a little too much chocolate cake or miss a few too many sessions at the gym, don’t beat yourself up right away. Give yourself enough time to get into the groove of your new routine. The goal is for it to become second nature over time. Remember, you are working with yourself, not against yourself.

Get by with a little help from your friends. No one said losing weight had to be a solo effort. If you’ve got some friends you can get to join your weight-loss journey, all the better! You can compare notes and motivate each other when needed. If you haven’t got any friends who want to join you, make some! Group fitness classes like yoga and aerobics are a great way to meet people who are working towards the same goal as you. You can also get a lot of invaluable information from people who may know things that you don’t. Losing weight is definitely easier and more fun when you’ve got a few good friends supporting you along the way.