It’s natural that anyone trying to lose weight wants to lose it very quickly. People who lose weight gradually and steadily (about 1 to 2 pounds a week) are more successful at maintaining the weight. Healthy weight loss isn’t just about a “diet” or a “program.” It’s about a consistent lifestyle that includes healthy eating habits and regular physical activity.
Once you reach a healthy weight, you rely on healthy eating and physical activity to maintain your weight over the long term.
EVEN A MODEST WEIGHT LOSS CAN HAVE MAJOR BENEFITS
Even a modest weight loss of 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight is likely to result in health benefits, such as improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar.
For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, equates to a weight loss of 5 percent 10 pounds, reducing your weight to 190 pounds. While that weight may still be in the “overweight” or “obese” range, that modest weight loss may lower your risk factors for chronic obesity-related conditions.
Hence, while the overall goal may seem big, see it as a journey and not just an end goal. You will learn new eating habits and physical activities that will help you lead a healthier lifestyle. These habits can help you maintain your weight loss over time.
Before setting a weight loss goal, it’s important to understand the benefits of losing weight. Understanding the multiple benefits of weight loss can help you stay motivated in your healthy eating and exercise program during challenging times. Every weight loss process eventually hits a rough spot.
To be successful, you should consider all the different ways that losing weight can improve your social life, physical health, and mental health. Make a list of the weight loss benefits that mean the most to you and keep them in your weight loss journal. Visit the list of days when you feel down.
You don’t have to lose hundreds of pounds to enjoy the physical health benefits of weight loss. If you’re currently overweight or obese, you may be able to lose just a small amount of weight to improve your overall health. In fact, some studies show that gaining as little as 5% to 10% weight can be detrimental to your health. Losing weight means
- Reduced joint pain
- Reduced risk of certain types of cancer
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Reduced risk of stroke
- Reduced risk or improvement in osteoarthritis symptoms
- Reduced risk or improvement in sleep apnea symptoms
- Improved blood sugar levels
- Improved cholesterol levels
- Improved mobility
- Lower blood pressure
- Less back pain
Your doctor can give you more personal information about the health benefits you can expect from losing weight. For example, you may be able to reduce or eliminate certain medications or reduce your risk of disease.
In addition to the health benefits, you can also experience a better lifestyle when you lose weight. People who have successfully lost weight report:
- Better sleep
- Less stress
- Increased self-confidence
- Improved body image
- Improved energy
- Improved mood
- Improved sex life
- Improved vitality
- More active social life
Exercising involves many health issues and lifestyle benefits; it also has many mental health benefits. A recent scientific review found that exercise can be as effective as other first-line treatments in treating depression and is severely underutilized as a treatment modality.
WEIGHT LOSS AND ITS RELATIONSHIP
The health and lifestyle benefits may be enough to motivate you to stick with a weight loss program. Some people try to lose weight to improve the quality of their relationships.
This is one area where the benefits of losing weight get complicated. While some people have better relationships after losing weight, losing weight just to make someone else happy isn’t always a good idea. There may be other relationship problems that weight loss won’t solve, and if you diet or exercise to make someone else happy, you might lose weight at first, but the weight often comes back. Social support can certainly have a positive impact on your weight loss journey, but to ensure long-term success, make sure you ultimately lose weight for yourself and your personal goals.
HEALTHY WEIGHT LOSS TIPS
Everyone’s weight loss journey is unique, but there are a few tips that can help you start yours:
- SET GOALS
To begin your weight loss journey, establish S.M.A.R.T-goals to help you map your process. Take the time to articulate how you want to feel, make sure you know how to track your progress, and keep your goals realistic for your current schedule and lifestyle.
- CALCULATE CALORIE NEEDS
Once you’ve set your goals, use a weight loss calculator to measure your daily calorie goal. Based on your age, gender, height, current weight, target weight and how active you are now, the calculator will help you determine your target daily calorie count.
- REDUCE CALORIES
To lose weight you need to take in fewer calories than you burn, creating a calorie deficit. To start that calorie deficit, reduce your calorie intake by helping your body create and burn energy by using stored fat.
Diet and exercise are two important components of weight loss. Adding exercise to your weight loss routine can help speed up progress. Follow a beginner’s exercise guide or start an exercise routine at home to incorporate exercise into your day.
- KEEP A WEIGHT LOSS JOURNAL
Whether it’s a traditional pen and paper method or a smartphone app, a weight loss journal helps you track your food intake, exercise, sleep, and progress throughout your journey. You can track your progress and your emotional and mental health to see how you’re working towards your goal.
- GET SUPPORT
Finding a community can help motivate you and take ownership in your journey. Whether you enlist the help of family and friends or decide to join a digital weight loss support group, you’ll stay connected with people who can cheer you through the easy days and the hard days.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF LOSING JUST 5 PERCENT OF YOUR BODY WEIGHT
Losing just 5 percent of your body weight has a major impact on your health. In a statement that will surprise no one: Losing weight is hard. Sometimes the hardest part is getting started, whether you’re just trying to lose 5-10 pounds or starting the first 5 pounds of a 50-pound journey.
We have good news for all would-be losers: Losing just 5 percent of your body weight is a lot. It is enough to reduce total body fat, visceral fat (the dangerous one that surrounds the organs) and liver fat. Plus, that tiny tip of the scale may also lower blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity, reports a new study. Taken together, this may also mean a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
The results show that with a five percent weight loss, you get excellent “value for money.” An additional 10 to 15 percent weight loss results in even more improvements in metrics like blood lipids and blood pressure. Hence, if you’re feeling frustrated (maybe you’ve lost four pounds instead of the 40 pounds you were hoping for), remember: meaningful change takes time. Here are five more reasons to be proud of every pound you lose.
5 BIG BENEFITS OF EVEN A LITTLE WEIGHT LOSS
- STRENGTHENING YOUR HEART
High blood cholesterol levels cause the fat-like substance to stick to the inside of your arteries, increasing your risk of a heart attack. Luckily, modest weight loss can get you out of harm’s way. According to a 2013 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association, overweight and obese women who lost weight for two years lowered their total cholesterol levels “regardless of the amount of weight lost.” Lose just 10 percent of your body weight and you could also benefit from lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, insulin, and triglycerides (another type of blood fat that increases your risk of heart disease).
- LIVE BETTER
You don’t have to reach your goal weight to be happy. In fact, in a 2009 study of 900 weight loss patients, those who lost 5 to 10 percent of their body weight performed better on measures of physical functioning and self-esteem. Researchers find that just knowing that a small loss in these areas will help can keep you motivated to lose more, even when times get tough. There is further evidence that you too will benefit from more energy and vitality. Translation: You feel great.
- IMPROVE YOUR MOOD
According to preliminary studies and research, when obese adults lose 5 percent of their body weight, they report better sleep and improved mood within six months. The sunnier attitude may not come from the weight loss itself (other studies suggest diet restriction can take a toll on your psyche), but from the fact that they recorded 21.6 more minutes of sleep per night than just 1.2 minutes in a control group. Adequate sleep keeps frustration and irritability at bay, and better sleep also helps regulate your appetite, which may help you lose more weight. That’s what we call a win-win situation.
- PREVENTING INFLAMMATION
Inflammation is a big buzz word these days, and with good reason. While short-term acute inflammation is a good thing (it’s your body’s way of reacting to things like injury), low-level chronic inflammation (the kind that lasts long-term) can increase your risk of diseases like heart disease or stroke, and metabolic syndrome. However, it is not a losing battle. A study published in Nutrition Research put obese people (most in their 20s and none with diabetes) on a diet and exercise program for 12 weeks. On average, they lost six pounds, but that was enough to reduce inflammation and improve immune function, likely because it reduces the release of pro-inflammatory proteins stored in fat, the study authors concluded.
- KEEP YOUR JOINTS SUPER CLEAN
You may not think much about it now, but trust us, you want healthy joints as you age. (You want to be comfortable climbing stairs for decades, right?) Being overweight can further wear down the cartilage in your knee, leading to a painful condition called osteoarthritis. If you’re overweight, research shows that losing 11 pounds can lower your likelihood of OA by more than 50 percent.
HAVING A HEALTHY MINDSET ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS
The health benefits of weight loss are almost endless, but if a weight loss program has been suggested to you, you’ve probably heard them all. Being overweight puts extra strain on your heart, bones and even your mental health. However, the culture surrounding weight loss can be just as damaging. Many people struggling with their weight feel that only high goals are worth aiming for and that their weight reflects their personal weaknesses. This shouldn’t be the case. Losing weight can take time, and setting sensible goals is the first step to success. Whether you’re trying to lose ten pounds or forty, losing even a small percentage of your body weight is something worth celebrating. In fact, studies have shown that losing the first 5-10% of your excess weight is the most dramatic improvement you can make in your health.
WHY THE 5-10% NUMBER CAN MATTER FOR YOUR HEALTH
When you’re trying to lose weight and improve your lifestyle, one small step in the right direction can mean a giant leap in your health. Losing 5-10% of your excess body weight can result in several surprising and sudden health benefits including:
- Reduced risk of metabolic syndrome (heart disease, diabetes, and stroke)
- Reduced joint pressure and pain
- Reduced risk of breast cancer in women
- Reduction or elimination of some cases of sleep apnea
- Reduction or reversal of insulin resistance
All of this is due to less weight loss; the more you lose, the better off you are. However, starting small is the best place to start. Instead of focusing on the big picture, just focus on the 5-10% hurdle. The exercise routine, meal plan, and self-discipline you develop during this time will pave the way for future weight loss and a happier, healthier life.