Being overweight or obese affects many people today. Overweight or obesity is not only an aesthetic problem. The health consequences are significant. There is a large amount of research that shows a direct link between being overweight and developing heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, high cholesterol, arthritis, and more. Most people know the health risks associated with being overweight. Even so, each year the numbers of overweight people continue to increase. How does a person even know if they are overweight? What are some of the reasons more and more people are continuing to gain weight? What can a person do that wants to achieve a certain level of weight loss and improve their health?
Defining Overweight and Obesity
There are several definitions for overweight and obesity. The most common definition uses the Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is measured by dividing one’s weight in kilograms by one’s height in meters squared (BMI = (Body Weight (kg)/(Height (m))^2). A value of 20-25 is considered normal with no associated health risk. People that have a BMI of 25-30 are overweight with a moderate increase in health risk. BMI of >30 is obesity and poses significant health risk. Another way to define overweight and obesity is as a percentage of one’s ideal body weight. A weight of up to 120% ideal body weight is overweight. A weight of more than 120% over ideal body weight is obesity. A final common way to define overweight and obesity is through waist to hip ratio. One uses a tape measure around the widest part of their hips and around the smallest part of their waist. A man is considered overweight if their waist/hip ratio is between 0.9-.99 and obese if the ratio is 1 or more. For women, a waist to hip ratio of 0.8-.89 is considered overweight while a measurement of greater than 0.9 is considered obese.
Unhelpful Advice for Weight Loss
The most common advice given to people that want to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more. Simply telling someone to eat less and exercising more is overly simplistic and not generally helpful to most people. That is because people are a body-mind-emotion-social-spiritual system. It is not possible to separate out one of these aspects from the others. Each aspect has a direct influence on the other parts. Approaching weight loss with a holistic perspective is helpful. Many people have not been successful in their attempts to lose weight because they focus only on the physical aspect.
“Inner Game” and “Outer Game”
For a person to successfully lose weight and maintain the weight loss, they must address both the “inner game” and the “outer game”. The “inner game” is the thoughts, beliefs, paradigms, concepts etc. that a person has about weight loss. These are the “frames” that a person holds in mind which directly impact their behavior. The “outer game” is the behaviors, actions, habits, practices, etc. that a person does each day. The “inner game” directs the “outer game”. Therefore without an “inner game” that empowers and supports the “outer game,” a person will usually not achieve their desired outcome.
A health and wellness coach specializes in helping people become aware of their current “inner game” and its effect on one’s “outer game”. People are not usually overweight because they intentionally and willfully over-eat and don’t exercise. Instead, most people have developed a number of beliefs throughout their life that subtly affect their behavior. In fact, people are unaware of their beliefs about their weight and health. Therefore, a health and wellness coach can help a person find and change their beliefs so they can achieve their outcome. After the “inner game” of beliefs, motivation, decisions, planning and rewards are in place, the “outer game” will naturally follow with ease and effectiveness.
Benefit of Coaching
Simply, coaching is facilitating a client through the change process to achieve their desired outcome. The client determines the agenda and the coach helps the client get what they want. A coach will dialogue and ask many questions to find the beliefs and meanings that are important for the client. Through addressing both the “inner game” and “outer game,” a client will not only achieve their desired outcome but can also experience positive transformation in other aspects of their life. Not only can a client lose weight and improve their health with coaching, they can also notice positive changes such as mental and emotional wellbeing, better relationships with others, more energy, an improved sense of self and many others.
In summary, obesity is a major issue not only because it affects how a person looks but more importantly their health and wellbeing. The various aspects of a person form a complex whole. All aspects must be addressed for a person to effectively lose weight and improve their health. By working with both the “inner game” of beliefs and the “outer game” of behaviors, a health and wellness coach is able to facilitate a client through the change process. A coach will help the client not only get what they want but also experience positive life transformation in other aspects of their life as well.
Be Strong and Live Well