Yup, you read that right. Your house is making you fat and I have five good reasons to explain why it happens and how you can fix it. So stop blaming yourself and do something without changing your eating habits – fix your space. Who knew architecture could have such an impact on our waistlines anyhow?
The Great Awakening – Architecture and Our Waistlines
I started to realize our space might have something to do with my recent weight gain about a year ago. I know, I know… you are thinking I am copping out to explain away my own over consumption, but hear me out. I am not the only one effected, my husband is too, and even some of my friends who also have similar homes and living spaces have noticed these issues. About two years ago we moved into our lovely home in East Nashville. When we were in Knoxville I spent a good 4 years on Weight Watchers and it worked like a charm! By the time we left I was a healthy happy individual who had maintained my weight for over a year. Then we moved. We had a new kitchen, and a new neighborhood, and different lifestyle habits and to be honest, we were not prepared for the onslaught of fat that we received. Say what you will, love made us fat, but I think it is our built environment and here are the five reasons why:
Reason #1: Your Kitchen is NOT Functional – At All
It is easy to read endless blog posts about healthy recipes and cooking lite, but what if you just can’t get to cooking in your kitchen? Our kitchen is just plain poorly designed and it is a hassle to cook or prepare healthy meals in it. Our old place, which was actually smaller and didn’t even have a dishwasher, was a better functioning kitchen than the one we have now. When we do try to cook, we bump into each other, it takes longer to make simple recipes, we can’t even open certain utensil drawers without opening the dishwasher first. Don’t get me wrong we realized how much of a chore our kitchen was when we moved in (not to mention ugly as hell) and that was the first thing we tried to fix. We painted the cabinets to be easier on the eyes, we used soothing appetite suppressant colors to help maintain our healthy eating habits. But nothing has worked. I am aware of the effects that the kitchen has had because my lifestyle has so drastically changed. We eat out all the time, ooof, terrible for our waistlines and our budget. Learn more about budgeting for projects. We don’t make healthy choices in the grocery because we need frozen – no preparation necessary – steroid and msg injected hormone crazy food so we can actually get something on the table at a decent time. It is our kitchen’s fault!
So if you are like us and have a non functioning kitchen, stop wasting your money on going out and instead save some money to change your architecture. *Kitchen makeovers are one of the most expensive home renovation projects, so be wise. There are tried and true kitchen designs out there to help with this. You WILL know if you have a problem before you start looking.
Just count how many times someone goes for a cup in one of the cabinets. If they can’t find it on the second try your kitchen is “wack” and it is making you fat.
Helpful and Healthy Kitchen Design Tips:
- Open-plan kitchens created a snacking culture. Did that foster the obesity epidemic?
- Environment and Behavior Journal : Environment, Design, and Obesity
- Work Triangles and Kitchen Layouts
- The Skinny Kitchen, with Nancy Fox
- Kitchen Mania – Inspiring Kitchen Design – shameless promotion of my Pinterest kitchen idea board, enjoy 🙂
Reason #2: Your Living Room Focuses On Your TV
Or in a tough love kind of way = you prioritize sitting on your butt over interacting with others. Ouch – that one even hurt me a little. Yes, our only couch is facing directly toward that tv, elevated on a shrine of a mantel to be visible at both seating and standing levels, free from glare, perfectly positioned as the center of our living room universe. I even sit on that couch and “nest a little”, after sitting at work all day, and make sure I only get up during commercial breaks to go to the bathroom. It is just so perfect! Now I know you are thinking now that my waistline might be my fault after all… you may be right…. but the way our living room is currently designed IS having a very strong contributing effect. It enables me to be sedentary. It encourages laziness. It is comfortable and cozy in a sloth type of way, not in a great place to get together with company kind of way. Even our one other ideal place to sit in our living room is directly under a huge and heavy mirror so our guests awkwardly bump their head as they sit down as if our architecture is saying, “Take that! This room is only meant for one person, watching tv, on the couch, comfortably sitting for hours on end, getting fat and happy as they watch their favorite show: Biggest Loser.”… I am NOT proud.
How to fix it: Simple – arrange your furniture to focus on healthy themes. Prioritize group arrangements so you can readily interact with others. Focus on wide views that inspire movement to other spaces or nature. Incorporate a waist high standing desk and make use of furniture to be interactive and healthy. Sounds fun, sounds like you may even be thinking of re-arranging your living room at this moment to be bright and lively and healthy. Maybe even tossing that overstuffed, Jabba the Hutt couch you have had for the last five years? Great do it! Take your weight into your own hands and change your living space.
Waist Slimming Living Room Techniques
- Feng Shui For Living Rooms
- HGTV Living Room Guide
- Room Layout: 6 Rules to Follow
- Design Living Room – Create Living Spaces for the Best Lounging Experience
You Can’t Walk Anywhere – You Have to Drive
Hmmm, this one is harder to get a handle on because you can’t exactly move your house now can you? We used to walk everywhere! We would walk miles downtown to go out partying with friends. We would stumble 2 miles back to our apartment only to wake up knowing that little extra metabolic increase probably made our hangovers that much easier to survive. We were young (still are!) and yet, we don’t walk as much as we used to because we have become more aware of our safety and apparently the older you get the more cautious as well. Even though we live in a highly walk able neighborhood we are no longer invincible college kids stumbling around the hood ready to conquer the world. I’m a young woman, sheesh, this one is totally the built environment’s fault. We have an excuse.
So what do you do about your house location? Moving can’t be what I suggest. Instead, I recommend taking some other action related steps to make it easier to get around on foot. If your neighborhood doesn’t have sidewalks, is not the safest, or too close to dangerous vehicle traffic find a nearby park, scope out a healthy alternative route or a lively gym facility nearby and get your exercise in that way.
Just remember: the more visually appealing your environment the more likely you will want to be there, so if you have an exercise plan, make sure you enjoy the spaces you will be spending your time.
If you do live in a walk able neighborhood invest in it! Our neighborhood is quite walkable so we need to do a better job of using those close by amenities and these sedentary legs. The sidewalks are well kept, we have taken some safety courses with BaseTac to help protect ourselves if we do get in a tough spot, and our Lockeland Springs Neighborhood Association (LSNA) has all of the help hotlines posted on their site if lights go out around town, or there is a problem/hazardous condition. Now all we need to do is get out of our car and into the habit of walking.
Reason #4: You Can’t Get A Breathe of Fresh Air
The effects of air quality on your health and your waistline are immense. When you are breathing in air that is moldy, musty, chemically saturated, or overly re-used your metabolic rate slows drastically as your body cannot get rid of all of the toxins you are breathing in – this is one of the many reasons your body becomes sedentary and “fat”. Imagine trying to exercise or move around in a home that has less than ideal air quality. This is one of the many issues I struggle with in my built environment because I have severe allergies. I am “deathly allergic to mold and dust mites” so the doctor and years of allergy shots have told me, and I do notice when I am in a space that may have those irritants in the air I am breathing. I get slow, my brain gets fuzzy, and my belly gets larger. Go figure.
Most of our homes in America ARE older, they were built with materials that produce chemical byproducts as they age. Our 100+ year old home was built using materials that have asbestos. Even though we are NOT doing anything to release it into the air, our home has a chronic musty smell from past inhabitants that tends to seep out of the wood and the walls during different times of the year or varying moisture levels. Most homes have also had their windows painted shut! How are we supposed to get fresh clean air if we cannot open our windows and enjoy the outdoors? No wonder we are getting bigger by the second. So go clean up your house, burn some quality calories, and get a breathe of fresh air.
Ways to Get Better Air Quality in Your Home
- Buy all natural cleaning products without harmful chemicals from The Green Wagon, East Nashville
- Moisture Proof Your Basement and Attic
- Safely Get Rid of Asbestos
- Open Your Painted Shut Windows
Reason #5: You Can’t See Outside
Views as well as access to the outdoors have been proven to increase activity among children in a a recent research study by the Children and Nature Network (CANN). Participants that had easy access to the outdoors had lower BMI than those children that stayed inside with no views to their landscapes. Your home could be making you fat simply because you cannot see outside. Not only does natural light help with weight management by increasing endorphin production, but views have also been proven to illicit activity!
Our house has wonderful windows (small and skinny) and we could have plenty of daylight and views to the natural, however, we keep our curtains and blinds closed most of the time because we are so close to neighbors and don’t really want people snooping around checking us out in our skippies. If your house has less than ideal lighting consider adding a bay window, or a sky light. An inexpensive way to add more light would be to change your light bulbs to daylight bulbs – to illicit the feeling of daylight, or change your back door to a windowed door. Our kitchen would be very dark if we didn’t have windows in our door because it has no windows to speak of. Our shower on the other hand does have a custom window that energizes our entire morning when we get ready. Our friends love it. Just this simple addition of adding natural light will brighten your mood and you might even notice you will be eating less.
Dark spaces have a tendency to make us snack more and sit more. They make us cozy and sleepy. On the contrary bright light spaces are energizing and healing.
So, if you are looking for more energy, motivation, and happiness add some views to the outdoors, add some natural lighting, and watch your figure shout for joy!
Are there any other ways you think your home is contributing to your waistline? Let me know!