Most people don’t think about their weight or aren’t motivated to lose weight until they have trouble fitting in old clothes, or they visit their doctor and find out they have health issues that are from being overweight.
Your current weight can be a result of many things: age, environment, family genes and history, lifestyle, medications, and more. While some of these factors are out of your control, there’s an important one that you can control – lifestyle. This includes things like nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress, tobacco/drug use, etc.
To find out if your current weight is healthy, calculate your body mass index (BMI). Your BMI is a measurement of your body fat based on your height and weight. Here’s an easy calculator that you can use to calculate your own BMI. After you find out your number, you can see which of the categories you fall in: underweight (< 18.5), normal weight (18.5 – 24.9), overweight (25 – 29.9), obese (> 30).
In addition to the BMI test, you can measure your waist circumference. It’s important to acknowledge that measuring your waist doesn’t tell you if you’re overweight. But it does tell you if you’re carrying extra fat in your abdomen. Abdominal fat is riskier than fat on other parts of your body. It can increase your risk for things like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer
A waist measurement of more than 35 for women and more than 40 for men is considered risky.
Your doctor has probably told you there are many health risks associated with being overweight. Most notable are high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease. The good news is all of these conditions can be avoided or improved with weight loss and lifestyle changes.
Being obese is harder on your body and health than being a little overweight. But whether you’re overweight or obese, it’s important to understand that losing just 5-10 percent of your body weight can make a big difference in your risk for many diseases and health conditions. Read more about the health risks of being overweight here.
There are a variety of biochemical and mechanical changes that take place when you lose weight, leading to improvements in your health. According to the Weight-control Information Network (WIN), these are some of the health benefits of losing weight:
To read about more health benefits of losing weight, you can visit the WIN website here.
Improved health may be the biggest reason to lose weight. But other reasons can include improving appearance, self-confidence, and sense of accomplishment to name a few.
Whatever your personal motivations are, write them down and keep them in a safe place. When you’re feeling weak, read your notes to help you remember why you started your weight loss journey.
Making changes is never easy – especially when it involves food and exercise. Habits are very hard to break. If you need help to get started, this website is a good resource.
(Remember: There’s a wealth of information out there about weight loss – some of it good, some of it not so good. Ask your doctor for help. They can be one of your best partners in losing weight and staying healthy for a lifetime.)
Getting to a healthy weight is so important to health, and sometimes the lifestyle approaches simply don’t work. Surgery to reduce your body’s ability to absorb nutrients is something to consider if you’re very overweight, have whole-heartedly tried and failed to lose weight, and you’re ready to commit to changing your lifestyle.