There’s no single cause of weight gain. In the realm of physiology, there are many factors: diabetes, genetic predisposition, insomnia, thyroid disorders, menopause. The list goes on and on. Setting those factors aside for a moment, let’s consider some lifestyle factors. After all, we don’t get to choose our genes or our physiology. But we can curtail some of the behaviors that lead to problematic weight gain. 

Here are three:

1. Sitting too much, especially in front of the television

It’s no secret that people in the Western world spend vast amounts of time parked in front of the TV. According to A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than four hours daily. That adds up in a hurry. In just a year’s time, it amounts to two months of continuous viewing. Over a 65-year period, that’s nine whole years! (Think of all the things a person can do in nine years.)   

But the downside of TV viewing isn’t just time wasted. When you sit, you’re not moving around burning calories. And there’s always a temptation to bring out the munchies when you’re watching a TV show or movie. 

The problem of prolonged sitting, of course, goes beyond television. People work jobs that require them to be seated for long periods. Too many of us live sedentary existences.

The antidote here is obvious: Get moving. Consciously practice a more active lifestyle. Walk, exercise, do yard work, play sports — anything to keep you from fossilizing in a seated position. Your health largely depends on it. 

2. Eating too much restaurant food 

Americans consume a great deal of restaurant food, whether it’s dine-in or carry-out. Fast food is a particularly acute problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 36 percent of adults in the United States eat fast food — hardly the healthiest fare — on any given day. The problem is even worse with young people. 

Why is this a problem? For one thing, restaurant food usually has a higher calorie count than meals you prepare at home. A Time magazine article reports that 92 percent of restaurant meals contain more calories than the average person should consume in a sitting. The portion sizes are often much too large, too.

Yes, it’s convenient to visit the drive-through window or order off a restaurant menu. In our fast-paced lives, we place a high premium on ease and convenience. But too often, we do so to our detriment.

That being the case, prepare as many healthy meals at home as you possibly can. Resist the impulse to take the easy road. Choose health.

3. Drinking too many of the wrong beverages

Consuming sodas, fruit juices and other sugar-laden drinks correlates with obesity. These beverages account for the single-largest source of calories and extra sugar in the American diet — a big problem in our supersized culture. What’s more, they load you up with calories without making you feel full, making it easy to overindulge. 

Alcoholic beverages can also lead to weight gain. One reason is that they contain “empty calories” free of nutrition. Alcohol also affects your liver, the organ responsible for metabolizing fats. And don’t forget the time-dishonored “beer gut.” It’s real. 

The solution here is simple. Limit your daily intake of alcoholic beverages to 1-2 drinks. Cut out as many sugary fluids as you possibly can, whether sodas, energy drinks, lemonade. In place of all these, just drink lots of water. It will hydrate you and help curb your appetite.

And so, I raise my glass of ice water in a toast to a healthier lifestyle for all. Cheers!

Remember, we at Pinsky Medical Weight Loss are here for you. If you need help losing those pounds and keeping them off, contact us today.