About two-thirds of the Americans are overweight or obese. The average American woman:
- has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 28. BMI of 25-29.9 is overweight and over 30 is obese. BMI = (Weight in pounds x 703) / (Height in inches)2,
- has a 37-inch waist, and
- weighs nearly 165 pounds.
Do you know that in 1960, the average American woman weighed only 140 pounds? If continued at this rate, in 50 years, the average American woman would weigh 190 pounds.
Without doubt, America is in dire need of a diet and lifestyle change. You know that you should lose weight but every so often, the difference between what you weigh and what you want to weigh just seems too daunting and insurmountable.
Do not despair. A little goes a long way when it comes to weight loss.
Studies show that by merely losing 5-10% of your weight, you can achieve tremendous health benefits – you can reduce the risk of deadly diseases, alleviate daily pain, and improve the quality of your life. Read on to learn what you have to gain by losing just 5-10% of your weight.
Reduced Risks For Heart Attack And Stroke
These twin killers are the leading causes of death and disability for both men and women in the United States.
- If you are an “apple” shape that stores excess fat in the abdomen rather than the hip (waist greater than 34″ for women and 40″ for men), you are at a greater risk for heart disease. Fortunately, this fat is also easier to lose and you will see dramatic health improvements with a little weight loss.
- By losing 5-10% of your weight, you can reduce your “bad” LDL cholesterol that deposits plaque in your arteries – narrowing them and leading to heart attack or stroke.
- Through exercise and a healthy diet, you can increase your “good” HDL cholesterol that stops LDL from depositing on your artery walls.
- By having less plaque buildup in your arteries, you can lower your blood pressure. High blood pressure thickens the walls of the heart, leaving them stiff and prone to heart problems. As the heart works harder and harder, blood vessels in the kidneys can be damaged too, resulting in kidney failure.
Reduced Risk For Type 2 Diabetes
The more excess weight on your body, the less sensitive your cells are to insulin, the hormone that manages the transfer of sugar from your blood into the cells. If this condition persists, your body’s cells eventually become resistant to insulin and cannot function properly.
Type 2 diabetes is associated with many long-term complications that may threaten your life. By exercising, improving your diet, and losing weight, you can enhance your cells’ sensitivity to insulin and have better control over your blood sugar levels.
Reduced Joint Pain
Being overweight puts huge pressure on your aging joints. An extra 10 pounds equates to 30 pounds of pressure on your knees. Over time, this force wears away your cartilage and increases your odds of developing osteoarthritis.
By losing weight, you decrease the pressure on these areas and allow the cushioning between the bones to rebuild. If you have pain in your knees, hips, and lower back, losing some weight will likely alleviate the symptoms.
Reduced Risk For Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is most common in people who are overweight. When you are overweight, extra tissue thickens the wall of your windpipe, narrowing the airway.
During sleep, the airway may be blocked by the tonsils or simply collapse. When you try to breathe and squeeze air past the blockage, it causes a loud snort. At times when your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it will shock your body awake. If you have severe sleep apnea, you can be woken up hundreds of times a night.
Losing weight can widen your windpipe and reduce or eliminate this problem. You will get a better night’s sleep and feel more energized in the morning.
Reduced Risk For Cancer
There are several kinds of cancer associated with being overweight. In women, they include cancer of the breast, cervix, ovary, uterus, gallbladder, and colon. In men, they include cancer of the colon, prostate, and rectum.
Although the exact cause remains unclear, it is possible that fat cells release large amounts of hormones like estrogen, insulin, and insulin-like growth factors that can fuel cancer growth. By losing weight, you can significantly reduce the levels of such carcinogenic hormones.
Reduced Risk For Dementia
When you have too much visceral or abdominal fat, it releases inflammation-causing chemicals in the body and increases your chance of developing dementia. High blood pressure and cholesterol also increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia.
Therefore, by losing your pot belly, the fat that surrounds your internal organs, you will gain tremendous health benefits.
The Bottom Line
- Losing weight should not be only about how good you look on the outside, but also how healthy your body is inside. Even a modest 5-10% weight loss can substantially reduce your risk of many debilitating diseases.
- Losing weight can give you the confidence to love your body, stop putting yourself down, and enjoy social interaction again. So even if the overall goal seems large, see it as a journey rather than just a final destination.
- Forget about “dieting” and instead, learn new eating habits and incorporate regular physical activity into your lifestyle. Over the long haul, these habits will help you maintain your weight loss, while the fad diets won’t.
- Sometimes, it is just too daunting to embark the journey on your own. Team up with a friend/partner who is also ready to lose weight. Trade healthy recipes or go food shopping together. Discover new physical activities that you both enjoy doing.
- Be aware of your nutrition environment. Read food labels and stock your kitchen with healthy ingredients. Always plan ahead and bring nutritious food with you when you are on the go.
- Last but not least, identify the emotional reason that led to your weight gain and address the root cause of the problem. If you think that you need professional help, don’t hesitate, because unless you deal with the deeper issues, you will remain vulnerable to falling back into your old habits.