military running

photo provided by Joint Base McChord-Ft. Lewis

It appears the military isn’t immune to one of our national problems – obesity. In our role of helping military families secure armed forces loans, we’re concerned with physical health as well as financial health. Obesity can cost you your job, your health, and affect your happiness.

Last month, military officials announced a new initiative to educate service members on weight loss and nutrition. Surveys show that 1 in 4 adults between 17-24 aren’t eligible to serve because of their weight. In 2010, Science Daily reported that, “In the past half-century, the number of women of military age who exceed the U.S. Army’s enlistment standards for weight-for-height and body fat percentage has more than tripled. For military-age men, the figure has more than doubled.”

It’s also projected that the military spends more than $1 billion annually on obesity-related issues. On the heels of the First Lady’s campaign to eliminate childhood obesity nationwide, the military is following suit by improving its own meal offerings.

So where does that leave you? Are you concerned with being overweight? Here are 10 practical tips to help you stay healthy.

1.  Eat smaller portions.

Many of us aren’t aware of what a healthy portion size actually looks like. This easily leads to high calorie consumption. Know what you should be eating for your height. If you want to lose weight, shave a couple hundred calories off that total. Consult your physician for help in determining a reasonable amount.

2.  Eat a colorful meal.

Are you eating your fruits and vegetables? Be adventurous and try something new. Kale, for example, is considered a super-food that both fights fat and provides a large amount of protein for a vegetable. Experiment with new recipes. Make sure your meal includes a variety of colors, providing different nutrients.

3.  Nibble small amounts of sweets.

Studies show that denying your sweet tooth may have adverse effects. Instead, allow yourself a few nibbles. Bypass baked goods for dark chocolate or 1 piece of candy. And remember, if you are the type to go overboard, tread lightly.

4.  Cut out soda.

Substitute with tea or low-calories juices. Also avoid high-calorie coffee drinks.

5.  Stay moving.

Walk everywhere. Bike to work. Run a race. Plan a family hike. It’s not always easy to get moving, but preparation is key. You can do more than you think!

6.  Save eating out for special occasions.

Restaurant food portions are much larger than you need. You often overeat, as well as spend more money. Save these outings for celebrations or special dates – and save loads of cash, too.

7.  Keep protein in your diet.

So make sure you build high-protein foods – such as beef, chicken, fish, beans, nuts, seeds, and cheese – into your diet. It will help you feel full. Careful not to overindulge by knowing the appropriate portion size!

8.  Snack between meals.

This is the best way to avoid overeating during regular mealtime. Choose yogurt, apples, pretzels, a handful of nuts, string cheese, as examples.

9.  Stay balanced.

Avoid the dangers of eating too much as well as eating too little! You can also work out too much, leading to injury. When you can, live in the balance to achieve the best results. Get professional advice if you need it.

10.  Do something active daily.

Move everyday – walking, taking the stairs, vacuuming, gardening – your options are endless! Be sure to get your heart rate up for at least 20 minutes so you can reap the most rewards from your workout.

Making small changes to your daily routine can make all the difference in achieving a healthy weight. Commit to trying at least 3 of these tips this week, and see how you feel!

If you’ve recently lost a lot of weight, what was the secret to your success? How does your energy level change with exercise?