If you are overweight or obese, there are some powerful reasons to drop 10 percent of your body weight this year. Losing this amount of weight can significantly improve your health and well-being. It may not sound like a lot. In fact, most people trying to lose weight set much loftier goals for themselves, but unrealistic goals can often end in disaster.
A 10 percent goal is very doable...that’s 20 pounds for someone who weighs 200; 25 pounds for a person whose scale reads 250; and 30 pounds trimmed from a 300-pound person.
Top Ten Benefits
So, what are the top ten health benefits you can expect after dropping 10 percent of your weight? In no particular order, they are:
10. Better blood pressure
9. Improved heart health and lower cholesterol levels
8. Decreased risk for diabetes
7. Enhanced sex life
6. A better night’s sleep for those with obstructive sleep apnea
5. Less pain associated with arthritis, joint disease, and lower back pain.
4. Better breathing
3. Decreased risk for colon and breast cancer
2. A healthier gallbladder
1. More energy
Along with the health benefits, there is power in achieving a 10 percent reduction in body weight. But getting started can be tricky—especially since there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” weight loss program. So I have called upon experts in the field of nutrition and dietetics. I asked four of my closest dietitian friends and colleagues to share a few thoughts on ways to effectively start working toward this 10 percent weight loss goal.
So for the New Year, aim for the top ten! Try to gradually take off 10 percent of your body weight over the next 6 months. You’ll feel better and your body will love you inside and out. Happy New Year!
Certified in weight loss management, dietitian Kyle Thompson sees her role as a coach and motivator. In fact, she has lost over 100 pounds herself and kept if off for over 5 years. Kyle takes a bad news/good news approach. The bad news is that if you want to manage your weight, you cannot eat as much as you want of whatever you want. The good news is that portion control skills can allow most people to include all their favorite foods in a healthy diet. For a great carry-along explanation of portion sizes, download this printable pdf document from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
With an interest and training in complimentary and alternative medicines, dietitian Kathy Cooley feels that once you have made a conscious decision to lose weight, you must be aware that it takes time and effort. Think of it as going back to school. You are going to learn about yourself, how many calories you can eat and still lose weight, and how active you need to be.
Don’t try to add all this to an already very busy schedule. If possible let go of one responsibility, project, task, or job so you will have the time to devote to your weight loss program. Kathy also feels that one should make sleep a high priority and get 8 hours nightly. Research is showing that sleep deprived people have a much more difficult time losing weight. If you are having difficulty sleeping, talk to your doctor about having a sleep study done.
Certified in diabetes education, dietitian Jennifer Catron effectively counsels those with weight issues and diabetes on a daily basis. Jennifer emphasizes that weight loss should not be a race, but rather a journey of forming and establishing healthy habits to last a lifetime. Jennifer believes that portion control is the key. Start by buying smaller cups, glasses, and bowls. Make sure you are using a nine-inch plate. When buying foods in large boxes and bags, divide the food into small, snack-size baggies before eating. This applies to foods like cereal, chips, pretzels, and crackers.
Since the majority of American meals are eaten outside the home, Jennifer suggests that you ask for a doggie bag at the beginning of a meal. Portion half of your meal into the doggie bag first, and then enjoy the rest of your meal. This will cut down on the bloated portion, and also save you money—two meals for the price of one!
With years of experience in eating disorders, family structure, and food dynamics, dietitian Trish Hunter says the first thing to focus on is hunger versus non-hunger eating. Hunger can also be called “stomach hunger”. Your stomach growls, you may feel lightheaded, and weak. Your body is giving you physical signs that it needs fuel. When you feel stomach hunger you should listen to your body and eat some nutrient dense foods until you feel comfortably full.
Non-hunger eating is caused by “mouth hunger”. You suddenly want the taste or texture of something in your mouth but have no physical hunger cues. There is nothing wrong with eating when you experience mouth hunger, but it should be in very small amounts since your body does NOT need these calories.
It is important to pay attention while you are eating or the mouth hunger will only increase. Therefore, don’t eat while watching television, driving the car, reading, or doing any activity that keeps your focus away from your food. Keeping a food journal can help you track how often you eat because of hunger or non-hunger.