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As a nation, we’re out of control and most of us know it, but we can’t seem to stop the trend towards obesity.

As we’ve moved from a hunter gatherer, farmer herder society to one with modern conveniences and an industrialized food source, we’ve disconnected ourselves from our own bodies. We’ve developed some unhealthy habits that are now generational—eating enormous portions, lots of processed, high-sugared foods, little movement or exercise, and not enough time in sweet slumber

Our genetic makeup has not changed much despite our evolution. What has changed dramatically is our lifestyle. As our society invented tools and mechanized processes, our requirements for hard physical labor in order to survive decreased. As our food cultivation has become more industrialized, not everyone had to be a farmer. Again, our activity levels dropped, and yet the body’s need for physical activity remains just as strong. Today, we sit. Think about it, you probably don’t realize how many hours out of the day you and your family spend sitting.

We sit at work. Our children sit at their desks in school. Our families sit in front of the computer reading and answering email, engaging in social media, or playing games. We eat at our desks. We eat in front of the television. We chose take out or pre-packaged meals, instead of working in the kitchen to create something from scratch. It’s a life of sedentary convenience, and it’s killing us.

But we can’t chalk up our sluggish behavior to inactivity alone—we are getting one-quarter less sleep than our ancestors did, from nine hours in 1900 to less than seven over the past ten years. Our zombie-like state is contributing to all kinds of health ailments including depression, cardiovascular disease, and symptoms similar to ADHD. The fact is that our bodies need REM or deep sleep in order to stimulate growth and development, repair muscles and tissues, and boost our immune systems. Yes, the best preventative medicine could very well be getting more ZZZs.

Current statistics show that over 66% of adults and 33% of our children are overweight or obese. And it’s not just us, according to Chinese statistics, 27% of their children are obese and they site the top two factors as physical inactivity and fast food. Along with the obesity explosion comes a diabetes epidemic—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention project that we’re on a trajectory where one-third of all U.S. adults will have diabetes by 2050. These scary stats are a huge reality check. The fact is that we are trying to fit so much into our daily lives that we search for convenience and sacrifice our bodies’ needs in order to get through the day. We’re paving the way for an early grave.

But you can buck the status quo to become a maverick mom who says NO to the trends and YES to creating a healthier, new family dynamic!

When making changes, it’s important that you implement them gradually. Small steps will prevent push back and you’ll have a better chance of making them permanent habits. Just changing one detrimental practice into a healthy habit will make a huge impact, and there’s no time like the present to take action.

Read Part 2 for Dr. Sooji Rugh’s creative ways to make healthy family lifestyle changes.

Obesity expert, Dr. Sooji Rugh, is the founder of GreenLite Medicine and Hello Greenlite. Find more healthy ideas and recipes on her blog at greenlitemedicine.com.

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