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

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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KATHYJO56 1/28/2021
This is an amazing article. I agreed with all of it. Report
BONNIE1552 1/3/2021
It's not easy to keep the weight off without changing your mindset. Report
PLCHAPPELL 10/21/2020
Good points Report
DEFARGE2 10/7/2020
Lost my first 10%, and my lab numbers have improved to where I was able to reduce one of my medications. My doc is thrilled on the progress even though it has taken a long time to get there. Report
RYCGIRL 9/28/2020
thx Report
First 10% done. Now on to the next 10% Report
Good article! Report
PWILLOW1 5/16/2020
I have lost 25% or 25 lb. The next 25 is slower coming but I am working at it. Report
Good article! Haven’t lost my 10% yet, but getting there. Report
A great and informative article! Thanks! Report
Very inspirational and relevant article. Thank you so much! Report
Great and informative article! Report
good article Report
Thank you for the information. Report
A great and informative article. Report
Great article Report
I’ve noticed less knee and spine pains with my weight loss. Report
Great article. Thank you! Report
Thanks Report
Thanks for a great article! :) Report
Really believe all in this article. Thanks. Report
I really appreciate this article. I'd love to see it cleaned up and edited to be more readable and succinct. I was confused when the author talked about obese people coming to see them, not knowing that they are a physician until later. Sentences such as "Do you know will your health improve when you lose weight? " don't make sense.

This is such an important piece of the journey! Please consider a clearer and updated version! Thank you. Report
Great and informative article! Report
good things to ponder in the article. thanks. Report
I was having to take OTC meds for bad heartburn everyday. I've lost my 10% and now only need an occasional chew for indigestion. Yay! I still have a ways to go, but I am feeling much better having lost the first 22 lbs. Report
My knees motivate me even though I'm not obese. Arthritis...and the fact that just FIVE pounds of bodyweight equates to twenty + on your knees! Makes a painful difference! Report
Thank you for acknowledging that even losing 10 percent of your weight can be difficult. I am at a 5 percent loss & moving in on 20 percent, but it has been work. Good article. Report
In total I've lost 80 lbs !! Since January I've lost 39 lbs (that's a part of the 80lbs) and I feel MUCH better, NOT because of persay the weight loss, but because the loss allows me to exercise easier. Being able to exercise easier now, is the BEST PAIN KILLER ever ! Report
My motviations for losing weight are less strain on my knees, feet, and ankles, and a fear of getting injured in the bathtub or shower and having to have a crew of people in there to lift me up. :-( Report
I've lost 10%...four times! When I reach my goal I will have lost 10% five times over (and NOT the same 10% for a change!) Setting smaller goals is definitely a great way to stay motivated. Report
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! :) Report
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. Report
Thanks so much for this Dr. Birdie. Needed to hear this today. Report
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 I will continue to move my goal of losing 70 lbs. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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!!! Report
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. Report
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! Report
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 time I will too! Looking for 12%... Report
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. Report
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Report
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 Report
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. Report
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! Report
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! Report
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". Report
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. Report
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. Report