America has an obsession with weight.

Perhaps a preoccupation fueled more by sociocultural standards by than anything else, this obsession with weight has led our country in fast pursuit of the “ideal thin.” The notion of the “obesity epidemic” itself has pushed thousands of Americans towards work-out regimes and crash diets that, although initially seemingly beneficial, are really more harmful than helpful.

But the statistics don’t lie. This socially induced epidemic has roots that suggest our bodies are far their optimal states.

There is a weight range that doctors consider to be indicative of overweightness and obesity, and a vast majority of our nation is within that range. In fact, while North America makes up only about 6% of the entire world population, it accounts for about 34% of the world’s overweight and obese.

In all actuality, social prejudices and pressures are really what make dietary plans and extreme work-out regimens so popular and attractive – it has become a race against self and a battle to suppress hunger for most Americans, but what we continually fail to realize is that the fight to obtain thinness is not only unnatural for some of our bodies, but also a mentally deteriorating process. We continue to starve, restrict, and deprive ourselves, and convince ourselves that our bodies are not socially acceptable.  It is a process that encourages self-hate and makes us shame our own bodies.

So what should Americans really be in the pursuit of?

We should be pursuing a healthy and happy lifestyle – one in which we eat healthily and attain not society’s conception of the ideal weight, but our own body’s ideal weight. We shouldn’t be obsessing over our daily calorie intake, but instead we should be focusing on the amount of nutrients in those calories. It’s time that America realizes that fatness itself is not the problem, but rather, the lifestyle choices we make.

Change won’t be an overnight thing. The road to a healthier self is definitely a part of a gradual process, and here are a few things you could integrate into your daily routine to gradually achieve and maintain that healthier lifestyle:

1)       Focus on what you’re eating. Avoid processed and pesticide-ridden foods. Drink lots of water and limit the amount of carbonated drinks and juices you intake.

2)       Exercise. Take the time to go running or biking in your spare time. Get into yoga or maybe lift some weights. Just get moving!

3)       Sleep earlier. Getting enough sleep not only boosts your immune system, it also increases your metabolic rate.