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The Health Benefits of Losing Just 10% of Your Body Weight

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
1/11/2012 10:00 AM   :  57 comments   :  28,050 Views

It's now the second week of January, so let's check in: How are you doing with your weight loss or maintenance goals?  

Many of you are just starting on the road to a new lifestyle.  Welcome!  I’m sure you have an abundance of motivation and willpower, and I hope that you use this powerful force to learn and integrate the SparkPeople principles early and successfully! 

Many of you are like me, and you're recommitting to your goals. You might be struggling to find your way back to consistency and balance.  Kudos to you for never giving up and accepting that we are in it to win it! 

Whether you're new to SparkPeople or are a veteran, some of us are feeling burned out and are thinking about giving up. We are here to look for a "spark" that will start a fire.  I hope that you will decide not to take a break (learn the consequences of taking even a short break) and will keep working on it until you find success. 

Rather than delve into motivation or secrets of success, let's back up a bit, and ask another question: Why lose weight?

While your reason(s) for losing weight and maintaining that weight loss are as unique as you are, there are a few reasons that many of us share. Among them: to improve one’s health.  I know it was on my "reasons to lose weight" list. 

If you already carry the diagnosis of an obesity-related medical condition, such as high cholesterol, hypertension or diabetes, that knowledge alone can be a great source of motivation and willpower.  But, what about the relatively healthy overweight person who wants to lose weight for "health reasons," but doesn’t really know yet what "better health" means?  Losing weight for the sake of your health (as compared with aesthetic motivations) is a socially acceptable reason to lose weight, but other than doing the right thing, do you know why you added it to the list? Do you know will your health improve when you lose weight? Do you know how much weight you need to lose to start to improve your health?

When I was 140 pounds heavier, I was faced with the health consequences of uncontrolled yet modifiable risk factors like obesity on an almost daily basis.  What did I say to myself then?  Did I fully understand that I was putting myself at risk?  I absolutely did know that I was risking my life by being obese, but like many, I willfully chose to ignore the risks and continued my unhealthy relationship with food. 

The very same relationship that caused my morbid obesity caused me to remain obese for more than a decade.   Occasionally, a young obese female who reflected my demographics would come to see me after a stroke or other obesity-related health crisis.  I would get shaken up pretty badly for a few days (and I would make promises to myself that I was going to change), but I would slip right back into my carb-induced coma and continue to try to bury my thoughts.  I knew I was killing myself by carrying around more than 100 pounds of excess fat.  Even though I was aware of this internal conflict at that time, I used it consistently as fuel for overeating and NOT changing my lifestyle. 

Eventually, being surrounded by so much obesity-related illness, disability and death, in conjunction with the burning desire to become a better role model for my children (much less be there for them), I finally used my experience as a physician as fuel to change.  I was no longer willing to live a life that was so incongruent in thought and in action.  As I think back to the earlier stages of my weight-loss journey, this realization was perhaps one of the most important changes that enabled me to finally lose the weight.

This is just a little insight into how the concept of losing weight for my health shaped my own journey.  But how do you incorporate wanting to be healthier into your own journey?

Learning some of the known health benefits of weight loss are a start.  The benefits are MANY and the good news is that significant benefits can be achieved with only a 10 percent weight loss.  For a 200-pound person, that’s only 20 pounds!  (I’m trying to be positive here--I know that losing 20 pounds is no small feat.)
What can 10 percent weight loss do for you? A lot, especially if you suffer from lifestyle diseases such as Type 2 diabetes or hypertension.
  1. Are you diabetic? You could see some stabilization and improvement of your blood glucose levels.
     
  2. Do you have hypertension? You could see your blood pressure start to lower.
     
  3. Is your cholesterol abnormal? You could see an improvement in your blood lipid levels.
     
  4. Regardless of your other health conditions, losing 10 percent of your body weight puts you at a decreased risk of developing heart disease.
Statistics prove that losing and maintaining weight loss is not an easy pursuit, so if you lose 10 percent of your body weight, you should be proud of your achievement because you have improved your health.  As you continue to lose, you should continue to see improvement in those areas of your health--and more!

But, remember that maintaining that 10 percent weight loss is only achieved by a permanent lifestyle change.  If you eat and exercise like you did before losing that weight, you will gain every pound back and probably more. 

Congratulations on your continued pursuit of weight loss and your soon-to-be permanent lifestyle change! I want to emphasize that even if you have not yet achieved a normal body weight, know that you are improving your health and that your efforts are worth it.  Just losing 10 percent of your body weight will result in a significant improvement in your health!  If you achieved your weight loss by working on the fundamentals of a true lifestyle modification (and not through fad diets), then you are well on your way to breaking free from the negative behaviors that lead us to and keep us in poor health.

Today I've shared just a few of the proven medical benefits of losing 10 percent of your body weight, but don't stop there. Remember that getting to a normal body weight should be your goal and together we can do it. 

Never give up and keep sparking!

What changes did you notice when you lost 10 percent of your body weight? What were some of the first health improvements you experienced?

Dr. Birdie Varnedore, M.D., is happy to offer her expertise to the SparkPeople community; however, she cannot offer specific medical advice to dailySpark readers. Please do not share confidential medical information here. If you have a personal question or a concern about your health, please contact your health-care provider.



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Comments

  • MANDY_STAR
    57
    Thank you for the encouragement - I have lost 10% of my weight - fat - doing a low carbohydrate, no-sugar diet, while walking, swimming, and doing pilates, in the past two months. I have a goal of losing at least 23% more of my weight :) I feel awesome! PS - Strawberries, strawberries! :) - 6/23/2013   7:10:00 PM
  • RICTRU
    56
    I want to live life to the fullest and be healthy. I have been suffering for obesity for most of my life. I have been losing weight since I started on gastric bypass alternative. I am also eating healthy foods now and doing some exercise. - 7/4/2012   8:31:08 AM
  • 55
    Thanks so much for this Dr. Birdie. Needed to hear this today. - 1/17/2012   11:13:04 AM
  • 54
    I am around 3 lbs away from 10%. Never have had health problems other than the so obvious eye sour of extra weight on me. I am happy to know that now I am decreasing the chances of getting bad news at the doctor. After losing 20 lbs I went to a mandatory health insurance check up...happy to say the nurse spoke out loud the following-beautiful blood pressure :D. I must be doing something right...so I will continue to move fwd..to my goal of losing 70 lbs. - 1/16/2012   9:22:10 AM
  • 53
    I've always had Drs. that have been really supportive in helping me lose weight and they've always talked to me about losing the 10%. When I really got serious after a medical scare, and started losing wt. I felt great. My energy level went up, I could walk stairs with ease and the my numbers started to improve. I'm now very close to my first goal and I'm feeling great. Not a day goes by that someone stops me and comments on my weightloss. It's such a great feeling. I feel so much stronger. It's been a long road, but one that has been totally worth it. - 1/15/2012   12:27:03 AM
  • AMANDA_A_725
    52
    The biggest positive health related benefit I've had is to be able to stop taking high cholesterol medicine since I've been working out more and watching/recording what I eat. - 1/14/2012   7:27:45 PM
  • 51
    Great article-this is helping me to remember to look at a smaller goal of 10% and then move forward toward the goal of 50 pounds. Thanks for keeping it real and not so overwhelming!!! - 1/14/2012   9:47:03 AM
  • 50
    When I started eating healthy and exercising, and lost my first 20lbs, I noticed a lot of changes. First off I noticed I became more positive about things. I felt happy and more open to talking to people. I'm normally a shy person. Before I used to be so tired all the time but now I have more energy. - 1/13/2012   11:34:10 PM
  • 49
    This was really helpful for me. I'm still young and never much considered all of the health consequences to being overweight, and once I did it scared me. It's good to know that I can see improvements in my health in a relatively short period of time! - 1/13/2012   10:12:44 PM
  • 48
    It's great to read everyone's positive stories of change! I'm trying...but not seeing the scale move at all. Discouraging! I'm glad that others have found success...in time I will too! Looking for 12%... - 1/13/2012   11:31:51 AM
  • MARCIE1455
    47
    Yep, this article was customed designed for me! Losing 20 pounds is my first mission on my way to fitness. I have the high blood pressure and the abnormal cholesterol at present time. I'm glad to know that once I get to losing 10% of my weight tht i will be on the road to health. Thanks for sharing. - 1/12/2012   10:46:53 PM
  • 46
    I started my journey to live a healthy lifestyle weighing 252 lbs. I now weigh 218.5. So I have just come down 10% of my weight. I have not been to the Doctor since loosing, however by taking my BP at one of those machines at the pharmacy, I have lowered mine. It used to be 125/80, and has come down to about 116/70. I can not say that I consistently have more energy, although I am finding it easier to exercise than I used to. I have had knee issues having had my knees replaced in 2007, but that is improving, and with exercise, lower weight, my knees are not hurting as much.
    My oldest sister, only 60 and only 4 years older than myself, had heart issues this year, with having to have three surgeries, ending with a double bypass. I want to avoid that by increasing my health, and making sure that I do not have those issues. I do take cholesterol medication and am working on lowering my cholesterol, but so far that has not happened.
    Thank you for reminding us that only 10 % weight loss can make a big difference.
    Oh and as I have read that for every lb you weigh you put 2-3 lbs pressure on your knees, in loosing 33.5 lbs, I have decreased that pressure on my knees by 67-100.5 lbs. that is a significant difference!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - 1/12/2012   6:44:37 PM
  • MICKIANN
    45
    thank you so much !!! It doesnt seem so over wheming now . Im at 250 and rreally struggling. but this week my short goals and making myself come in here every day has been great. I havent drank all my water yet havent done all my excersises yet but trying and showing up / and I get more encouraged everyday thank you again / yes Im all that diabetic hypertension ect and 66 years old ugh - 1/12/2012   5:23:25 PM
  • 44
    I've lost 10% and am nearly at 15% lost. So far I've been able to eliminate one heart medication entirely and reduce by half the dosages of the remaining two medications. I've also reduced by half my cholesterol medication and changed it to a less strong formula. - 1/12/2012   4:24:01 PM
  • 43
    I love this article! It's one of the most motivating articles I've read because it talks about the specific changes you can make to your health in the first 10%. In 2006 I started on SparkPeople at 300 lbs and I lost 60 lbs. (at which point I got pregnant - Yay!!, but this halted my weight loss progress.) I did notice in the first 10% - actually after losing the first 20 lbs., that my blood pressure went down from 140/90 (borderline high) to 125/72 (average). My consistent back pain decreased. I was able to walk without pain. I looked better. Clothing started fitting better and then I went down a size. I felt better about myself, too. Oh, and then I managed to conceive a child! Weight loss can help with that and certainly helped make that pregnancy easier! - I started this journey again in July 2011 at 272 and I'm down to 252. Excited to get back to better health and down to 200 or less. Slower progress this time, but at least it's progress! It's a marathon, not a sprint, and it has to be a lifestyle change to keep it off. It is all worth it, though! - 1/12/2012   2:32:11 PM
  • 42
    I'm hoping to lose 15 pounds, which is a little more than 10% of my body weight. Looking forward to looking better and feeling fitter. Great read! - 1/12/2012   1:54:21 PM
  • 41
    It is so necessary to look back to see where you have been to appreciate where you are. This article is so helpful in reminding me of the journey. When I started the lifestyle change it was very specific to not wanting to take cholesterol medicines. It was also about the personal dissatisfaction with weighing over 200 pounds. Taking off that first 10% was a struggle only in that I was not aware of all I was doing wrong and not doing that could improve my health. I can tell you I didnt lose weight immediately, but I did increase energy immediately...Wow how much better I felt just adding 30 mins of exercise 3 times of week. Once consistent there inches started to come off...I was more toned, clothes felt more comfortable....and then no more cholesterol medicines. A few more changes in diet and look out the scale started to move. Adding cardio and more weight came off. Learning portion appropriate eating habits...made my exercising more vigorous. Being better at exercising made it more fun....Now my body fat % and BMI are closer to normal and I am still learning and still having fun. The benefits are amazing, the work to get them is doable in small changes. The lesson for me is that "I love myself enough to make the effort". - 1/12/2012   1:34:48 PM
  • 40
    I have lost almost 60 pounds and been able to keep it off this time, because I finally understood that this has to be something I can do FOREVER! I can't go back to the way I used to live. If that lifestyle made me fat before, it will make me fat again!!! People have to fully grasp that concept before they can make lasting change. - 1/12/2012   1:33:21 PM
  • 39
    I always though there was something wrong with me for ignoring the morbid obesity I was living with for 10 years. Until I read this blog and realized that others ignore the same issues, and being a doctor no less. I got to the point I didn't want to see my Doctor to hear again how I should lose weight. But when my health forced me to lose or face dying, I started on a program, with my wonderful Doctor help. After the first 35 pounds, 10% of my weight, I noticed a difference. With each 10 lbs I felt better, could do more. Now as I celebrate 2 years and 197 lbs less, I am living the life I was meant to live. Healthy and fit at 70 and loving it. - 1/12/2012   1:17:12 PM
  • 38
    Very inspiring blog! I had lost 20% of my starting weight ... just 2 pounds to goal ... and have regained so much that now I am almost 4 pounds above 10%. As of now (after reading this blog) my new mini goal is to lose 4 pounds to get back to the 10% down ... and then make more mini goals until I reach my goal weight. Thank you!

    PS: I love all of your blogs!

    EDIT: I recalculated and discovered I HAVE kept a little more than 10% of my weight off! What a happy realization! That gives me motivation, too! I needed some positive self-talk! In answer to your question, I feel better in every way, but regaining the weight I have has made me feel WORSE in every way ... HOW DIFFERENT JUST 10% MAKES! - 1/12/2012   12:41:20 PM
  • 37
    I joined Spark people almost one year ago, needing to lose nearly 40% of my 223 pounds (or about 88 pounds) Can't remember exactly how I felt after losing the first 22, other than the hope that I really could persevere and succeed. And that's about when some of my too-tight clothes began to button a bit more easily, and my husband said he noticed. The mirror did not reflect really noticeable changes to me quite that soon :) Before this 3 1/2 week Christmas vacation, I had lost 70 pounds - so still have about10% to go! And yes, constant vigilence is crucial to ongoing progress. - 1/12/2012   8:36:39 AM
  • CIRANDELLA
    36
    I found that once I lost 10%, I had the desire to keep on going, too. Finally lost around 70, and Dr. Birdie's right: That can change your blood chemistry *radically*, and in the right direction. - 1/12/2012   8:14:43 AM
  • 35
    I feel better, look better and think better!! - 1/12/2012   6:34:38 AM
  • 34
    I wouldnot know what 10% of my weight is but i know im doing well. - 1/12/2012   5:17:29 AM
  • 33
    Very interesting article! I just joined on the 10th of January, but started focusing on breaking free from my dependence upon unhealthy foods January 1st. I've lost seven pounds and am just 23 lbs more away from losing 10% of myself. Thanks for the tips and encouragement that I found within your posting. - 1/12/2012   5:06:13 AM
  • 32
    i could breath better, my stomach was not in the way that much. I felt better about myself...etc.. - 1/12/2012   3:08:35 AM
  • 31
    Very well written article! Thanks, Dr. Birdy! I'll let you know when I shed the first 10%. - 1/12/2012   12:56:50 AM
  • 30
    I just plain felt better emotionally and when I looked in the mirror. Several more pounds lighter, I saw that I was able to get up and down off the floor, sit with one leg underneath me, and do many, many things like stooping, bending, walking longer, etc. and many of my friends my age can no longer do these things. I came to a standstill and lost my motivation for many months so I'm renewing my commitment to SP and to myself to get off my butt and move again. - 1/11/2012   11:59:02 PM
  • 29
    It is refreshing to hear from a physician that has gone through many of the same things people here are going through. Not that I wish it on anyone - but I hate going to the doctors hearing how I need to lose weight and leave feeling like crap about myself. Rarely do they ever give you the "tools" to do it. I think many physicians could benefit from a better "bedside manner" and look to encourage instead of humiliate (I recall one time asking a doctor what kind of diet I should be on and he said "eat more beans" - no joke). Thank you for sharing your own personal experience and helping others. - 1/11/2012   11:10:00 PM
  • 28
    My wife and I have both lost over 10%, she is at 15%. We have more energy, enjoy the time we spend together exercising every day, and are feeling better and enjoying food more. We are each looking at another 10-12 pounds. What is better is the fact that we both are fitting into much smaller clothes and feeling good about it. - 1/11/2012   10:50:03 PM
  • 27
    Thanks for sharing. Ten percent seemed like a whole lot when I started my journey to find myself again. Somehow I had gotten buried in how I looked and my inability to lose weight. But as I neared my goal...it was sooooooo worth every drop of sweat and food journal entry. I felt "normal" and it was reflected in my confidence at work, at church, and just walking around the block. - 1/11/2012   8:13:38 PM
  • 26
    My cholesterol went from 264 to 132, my pulse rate dropped, my sciatica is mostly gone and I generally feel much better. I have lost about 80 pounds now, and I hope never to see them again! - 1/11/2012   7:07:46 PM
  • 25
    I have lost 10% of my body weight as of today! I already feel so much better and healthier. It is alot easier to make healthier choices and work out. - 1/11/2012   5:48:40 PM
  • JULIA1154
    24
    After losing 10% I came to believe that I actually could lose the rest of my excess weight. That was the biggest, most important change for me.

    I've now lost over 25% of my body weight. I'm well within a healthy BMI but want to move down a few more pounds. In the meantime, I've learned to love exercise and am working to build more lean muscle.

    As always, Dr. Varnedore's post is encouraging, illuminating and supportive. Two thumbs up! - 1/11/2012   5:22:08 PM
  • SYLVIEINMTL
    23
    20 years ago, I decided to go to WW ... I had a "big" 15-20 lbs to lose ... I have achieved my goal, and maintained, but suddenly I stopped going to meeting, stopped tracking food intake, stopped, stopped ... and regained all of it PLUS 30+ more pounds ... if there is one thing I have learned is that it is no miracle to succeed. When I will reach my goal, this time I will continue being involved in checking regularly my portions, my weight gain and my link to the community ... this time the Spark one ! - 1/11/2012   5:08:59 PM
  • 22
    Thank you for a great & truthful blog. This is the most important paragraph to me:

    "But, remember that maintaining that 10 percent weight loss is only achieved by a permanent lifestyle change. If you eat and exercise like you did before losing that weight, you will gain every pound back and probably more."

    If I had taken this to heart years ago I might have kept 100+ pounds off as a young woman.


    - 1/11/2012   5:05:48 PM
  • 21
    Living in a multi-level home, I climb and descend over 1500 steps every week! This time last year, I really disliked those stairs! But now climbing them is SOOOO much easier, I don't even think about it. Reading your article made me realize that 10% is precisely what I've lost! My goal includes losing about 8 more lbs., so I look forward to how much better I'll feel then! - 1/11/2012   4:50:11 PM
  • 20
    I didn't get blood work done until after I'd already lost almost 10% of my maximum. But what I did notice was the plantar fasciitis disappeared.

    Since then so much more has changed it's almost impossible to fathom. But yeah, it started with 10%...

    :-) - 1/11/2012   4:42:49 PM
  • SBNORMAL
    19
    I am on the edge of my ten percent and I already feel 100% better. - 1/11/2012   4:19:55 PM
  • DONNASMITH3
    18
    Bring it on, weight be gone!
    Thanks for the blog! Great info! - 1/11/2012   2:50:36 PM
  • BCVAUGHAN
    17
    I've gone from 250 lbs to 202 since July. I can walk around barefoot now and my feet don't hurt. I used to take a nap every afternoon. Now I go to the gym instead and I have a lot more energy. I can run up several flights of stairs without feeling short of breath. I love the way I feel and am going to lose another 40 lbs and keep it off! - 1/11/2012   2:45:11 PM
  • 16
    My knees didn't hurt as much as I started to lose weight. - 1/11/2012   2:19:43 PM
  • 15
    Thanks for the blog and congratulations on your success! I have lost over 20% of my starting weight which was 300 lbs. (70 lbs. lost). But, I noticed many positive changes after losing just 20 lbs. My attitude changed, my knees and hips stopped hurting, I slept better, my asthma and breathing was improved and I had more energy than before. The benefits I felt and saw after losing the first 20 lbs. is what has kept me motivated to lose the rest of the weight. Now I am 70 lbs. lighter and looking forward to losing another 60 lbs. I am enjoying new benefits as I move along on my journey. The prize is not at the finish line...there are many prizes and they are given out during the race. WooHoo! - 1/11/2012   2:16:37 PM
  • 14
    if i ever loose the weight ill let you know if it does anything to make me healthier. - 1/11/2012   2:05:18 PM
  • 13
    I lost a little over 10% of my body weight in the last 6 months. Since then I have seen significant health benefits. I have gone from 255 lbs to 229 lbs from June 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011. My blood pressure has gone from 130s/90s to 110s/80s. My cholesterol numbers have improved. My A1C went from 7.1% to 6.7%. without medication. My triglycerides dropped by 30 points. I have more energy, more frequently. My doctor actually told me I am doing a terrific job and just keep on doing what I am doing. My clothes are becoming too big for me. I'm sleeping better. I rarely ever have any strong food cravings and even rarer do I crave junk food. I have had far fewer cases of sciatica pain, and when it does act up it's not lasting as long. That's all I can think of for now. It's a lot in my opinion and it helps me to keep on moving forward. I am already down another 1% so far this year thanks to that January Jump Start Challenge =) Can't wait to see how good I am doing after my next doctor's check up and another 10% down! - 1/11/2012   1:41:04 PM
  • 12
    OMG - until I read this, I never figured the percentages. I have lost 25% of my weight (Start: 146 LBS. Down to 109; that's 37 pounds.) That must have done some good things for my body. It sure did good things for my mind. Ooooh. Still going strong: goal is to get under 100 pounds. I'm not quite 5'1". I don't have a doctor, but I can do my old majorette routines again! - 1/11/2012   1:38:07 PM
  • 11
    So odd. I hear the 5% challenges and 10% recommendations all the time ... and I never actually went and calculated out how much that would amount to. Guess I've already dropped 10%.

    Changes? Not really significant ones, per se, but I'm doing this slow and with fitness as the key focus. The first, most obvious one, is going up stairs. I work on the second floor and have since mid-August. I always use the stairs. When I started this process in mid-September, I usually took the entire length of the hallway getting to our office suite to breathe even reasonably normal. Now, between dropping 25 pounds (my 10%) and walking daily over the last four months, I trot up the stairs quickly and am barely winded. - 1/11/2012   1:16:16 PM
  • 10
    I lost about 20 pounds overall (14.5 being my 10%). I think the first signs of improvement were that my knees and feet stopped hurting and my blood pressure calmed down (in conjunction with eliminating some meds that we found were also raising it). - 1/11/2012   12:18:05 PM
  • 9
    It is just so much easier to move around after 10% is gone! - 1/11/2012   12:11:15 PM
  • MARYKATHARINE1
    8
    After I lost my 1st 10% I could feel the biggest difference climbing stairs. The grinding I was having in my knees was relieved. I have now lost 40 lbs (15.4%) of my original weight and still have a long way to go but do I ever feel so much better. - 1/11/2012   12:07:33 PM

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