A recent report predicting that 42% of Americans could be obese by 2030 (up from about 36% today) will have you wondering why so many people are fat. Losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle can be summed up in four small words (plus a comma): eat less, move more. This is not an oversimplification, it’s a proven system void of pills, surgeries and complicated diets. The simple principle of eating less and moving more sums up exactly what everyone needs to do to lose weight, improve their overall health and live longer, happier lives.

Why is it so easy to be fat?

The important question is, if losing weight is so easy, why is this country so fat and unhealthy? The answer to that is somewhat complicated, but the bottom line is convenience. As Americans, we tend to ignore the long term vision in favor of the short term one. Sure, heart attacks, diabetes, strokes and cancer suck, but so does cooking your own food, counting your calories and exercising.

As much as everyone hates being sick and diseased, living an unhealthy lifestyle right now probably won’t lead to any serious negative effects for at least a few years. Eating delicious and excessive calories while being physically inactive makes us happy now and leads to bad years later on which is perfectly fine for most Americans.

Once those negative health effects start to pop up, some of us might take actions to turn our lives around, yet others would remain unswayed.

The most serious health effects of obesity, the ones that impact our everyday lives, take years to develop. Diabetics don’t start off with kidney failure and amputations, heart attacks don’t happen after eating garbage for months or even years and how many fat people do you know that are still cancer-free?

Why are we all fat? Because we don’t care about the consequences we suffer tomorrow while we’re busy having fun today. Many people think it’s easier to live an unhealthy life right now rather than make any change. Ask anyone affected by an obesity related disease and they’ll give you a list of regrets starting with leading a very unhealthy life. Unfortunately, that experience based wisdom comes too late for most.

The key to change is not waiting until it’s too late to make a difference. Once you’ve had a heart attack, started cancer treatment or been diagnosed with diabetes, changing becomes extremely difficult. Learning from everyone else’s mistakes will make you a better and more successful person without having to go through the same pain that they’ve already endured. Obesity and its effects are very hard to cure but extremely easy to prevent.

Yes, preventing obesity (along with all of the obesity related diseases) is as easy as eating less and moving more. On average, Americans consume way too many calories and engage in very little exercise. Reversing this trend is the “secret” to also reversing the potentially disastrous (42%) obesity trend.

The good news is that changing is not hard at all (relative to the pain that’s in store if you ignore change). Change doesn’t have to happen all at once. The good kind of change, the kind that sticks with you for the rest of your life starts with small steps. This kind of change isn’t easy but it’s an immeasurable amount easier than dealing with the consequences of an unhealthy life.

The Bottom Line

The metaphorical pain (inconvenience) you will suffer by ditching that hamburger and joining a gym can’t even start to compare to the literal pain you will suffer at the hands of insulin injections, chemotherapy, bypass surgery and witnessing the emotional trauma you put your friends and family through. The temporary gratification you enjoy today is not worth the permanent hurt you will hate tomorrow.

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