Happy January! With New Year’s Resolutions being made across the country, I’d like to talk about the most obvious one: losing weight. With inspiring shows like The Biggest Loser, online resources, and gym memberships I’m wondering if Millennials are taking advantage of the opportunities available to them?
Apparently they are not. According to article Millennials: Are They Healthier than Earlier Generations? by Carol Phillips of Millennial Marketing, Millennials may be less healthy than previous generations. The post cites a study “Health, United States, 2008, with a special feature on the Health of Young Adults.” Here are some highlights:
“The proportion of young adults 18–29 years of age who were obese more than tripled from 8% in 1971–1974 to 24% in 2003–2004.”
“Nearly two-thirds of young adults did not have regular leisure-time physical activity and three-quarters did not report strength-training at least twice a week.”
Post-college I gained a lot of pounds. Since I had always maintained a healthy weight effortlessly, I thought I never had to watch what I ate. To make matters worse, my workplace seemed to have potlucks every week: for birthdays, sales goals reached, retirements, more birthdays…. you name it. They also had a vending machine for convenient but empty-calorie snacks. On top of that, add two holiday seasons of not watching my calorie intake, and sitting in a cubicle every day, and not-so-suddenly my clothes from college didn’t fit anymore!
When I finally weighed myself I was 15-20 pounds above my BMI. What?!
I decided to wise up, and take control. Weight loss is easy, right? Calorie-in, calorie-out, watch what you eat, and workout a bit. Easy. After a year of sensible eating, and knocking myself out at kick-boxing class once a week, I weighed myself a year later– I was exactly the same weight on the dot.
It turned out I needed to educate myself on the difference between a maintenance vs. weight loss diet/workout plan.
I started my weight loss plan after giving birth to my son in 2011. I found a great diet plan, and worked out to Biggest Loser: Cardio Max, or Biggest Loser: Power Sculpt five days a week. My first goal was just 10 pounds, but I actually lost 15 after 3 months. Almost two years later I’ve lost 32 pounds– way more than I expected or originally planned, also well within a healthy BMI weight for me.
HOPE FOR MILLENNIALS
When Millennials enter the workplace their health declines drastically this study shows from US National Library of Medicine– so I’m not alone in my post-college weight gain. But I think there is some hope for how to curb this trend in Millennials. According to Mayo Clinic’s Nutrition-Wise blog article: “What food trends define the millennial generation?”, Millennials are huge snackers, which has contributed to obesity in people ages 16 to 27. By finding healthy snack alternatives, it’s a small step to promote weight loss, since eating several times during the day actually helps promote weight loss. Find a way to use your snacking habit to your advantage. To find more nutrition advice, and how to form good habits check out nutritionlately.com post 16 Ways Millennials are #WinningTheFoodGame. You may have more of an edge than you realized!
MILLENNIALS: YOUR METABOLISM IS NOT SPECIAL
What I learned from my weight loss (that I think is distinctly Millennial) has to do with the whole entitlement, “I’m Special”-thing. I learned that my metabolism isn’t above the principles of calorie-in, calorie-out. I learned that if I decide to not be active, it will catch up with me. It was a great lesson for me to learn responsibility for my health, and to see the direct results of learning how to take care of myself. Although it wasn’t fun gaining the weight, I’m glad I did because now I know how to manage it– probably for the rest of my life.
Good luck to you on your New Year’s Resolutions! Whatever they may be, I hope you learn something from your goals this year.
From a boomer–your generation has been more marketed than any other generation. And portion sizes have increased too. When I was a kid, there were no ‘free refills’ on soda and the cup size was smaller.
Are there studies on how much your generation are ’emotional’ eaters?
It’s obvious that unhealthy options are a huge culprit in Millennial obesity. This post is based on my own weight-gain/weight loss story, and I don’t tend to struggle with emotional eating. Findings on the rate of emotional eating, and the source of it would be a great follow up to this post, thanks for the great point, and the comment!
I have 3 points to stress, which might help in the obesity pandemic spreading through US along with some emotional eating disorders.
1) In US gaining weight after leaving college does not seem that uncommon: college students hardly eat (not that much money available) and tend to party a lot. Constant stress during college makes your body more dynamic (more calories burnt). So, when you start your “grown-up” period, you tend to eat not better (junk food is still highly present) but definitively more.
2) Our habits now are far worse than 2 generations before and especially in the US, where the culture of quality vegetarian-based, non-fat homemade food seems to be missing in young people. I am from Spain, and while I eat much worse than my mom did when she was my age, I rarely eat out on weekdays although cooking my healthy lunch is far more expensive than eating a Subway sandwich or a slice of pizza (I live in Baltimore, MD).
3) US cooking culture at a house level (point 2) is bad, real bad, but it is terrible at schools (don’t get me wrong, I love this country, that’s why I am here and I plan to be here for a long time), In US kids start using silverware not before 6-7-8 yo. In most Primary Schools they only serve food that kids can eat with a fork or a spoon. That let’s most of healthy food out and they end up serving junk food. Let alone that ketchup and fries are considered veggies servings.
IMHO, the only way to change this trend is to invest money in educating people about healthy choices, in making healthy choices affordable (if you don’t have means, it is much cheaper to eat at McDonalds that having a healthy lunch at home), and most importantly the people in government should stop governing with Junk Food Companies in their necks.
Thanks for your input!
1. I can definitely relate, I had no problem maintaining a healthy weight in college, even though I didn’t have the best habits. Stress, and walking around campus all day, easy access to gym all helped.
2. Agreed, although I would say in the US my parents generation has just as bad habits.
3. I LOVE this point, and want to blog on healthy home-cooking in the future. Learning to cook good food, and knowing the definition of ‘good’ is sooo important.
Hmm, I would agree with you on habits and education being the biggest culprits. I know they were for me. PS- I have a good friend from Europe, and she has phenomenal eating habits of anyone I know. We’re a bit behind in the US.
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Great post. I couldn’t agree more with the “entitlement” issue that goes on with many Millenials or youth that eventually come to the unfortunate reality that if they don’t improve their diet and exercise habits they will continue to gain unwanted weight. Even a number of my close friends still maintain that “I’m special” mentality but like you said – with time it will likely catch up to them.
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