With two-thirds of Americans bulging into the overweight and obese categories, it’s no wonder that losing weight or starting an exercise program consistently ranks as the top New Year’s resolution. The National Institute of Health (NIH) estimates that more than 172,000 premature deaths each year are directly attributed to obesity, the majority due to cardiovascular disease.
But did you know that even a modest 5% decrease in weight can significantly improve your health?
Losing weight is tough. Anyone who has more than 10lbs to lose knows how daunting of a task it is to step on the scale day after day to see if any improvements have been in their weight loss efforts. Suddenly losing that extra 5, 10, 50 or even 100lbs seems an impossible feat. However, by changing your focus, you can change your mindset. Focus instead on the health benefits of shedding that excess baggage.
Although a weight loss program can indeed help you start on the path toward feeling better about yourself, it might even save your life. Weight gain is associated with a number of adverse health conditions. If left untreated, many of them have the potential to cause life-threatening complications. Remembering all of the health benefits of weight loss may help you stick to your diet plans.
Stop making weight loss all about your pants size and make it about healthy, longer living. As you begin to shed excess weight, you also begin to shed unwanted health risks like high blood pressure and heart disease.
Shedding just 5% of your total body weight does a lot – it’s enough to decrease total body fat, visceral fat (the dangerous kind that hugs your organs), and liver fat. Plus, it can lower your blood pressure and improve your insulin sensitivity and lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes.
14 Benefits of Losing Weight
Sure, losing weight takes time, dedication and effort but think of all the health benefits you will gain.
For starters, simply by shedding 10 percent of your weight, you will gain:
- increased energy levels
- lowered cholesterol levels
- reduced blood pressure
- reduced aches, pains, and inflammation
- improved mobility
- improved breathing
- the ability to sleep better and wake more rested
- the prevention of angina or chest pain caused by decreased oxygen to the heart
- a decreased risk of sudden death from heart disease or stroke
- the prevention of type 2 diabetes
- improved blood sugar levels
- the alleviation of having to use some medications
- increased self-esteem and confidence
- decrease the risk of erectile dysfunction
In 1995, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that there were over 200 million obese adults worldwide and another 18 million overweight children under age 5; and, in 2000, WHO estimated that there were now over 300 million adults worldwide who were considered obese. As your waistline expands so do your potential health risks; by slimming down, you trim off those unnecessary health risks. Some of the biggest health risks faced by the obese are heart disease and hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and sleep apnea.
Studies consistently show that losing just 5-10% of your body weight can significantly improve high blood pressure, blood sugar or cholesterol.
Unexpected Benefits of Losing Weight
Not only can losing weight improve your health in many ways, but it can also lead to other unexpected, and some expected, benefits including financial benefits depending upon how much weight you lose.
- simple tasks like playing with your kid at the playground or climbing a flight of stairs won’t leave you gasping for air
- your memory may improve
- your relationship may be tested as it could cause your partner to consider his/her own health choices, your partner may worry about your personality changing, or your partner may feel jealous or threatened
- your risk of cancer will be lower as the inflammation in your body decreases
- if you were depressed before losing weight, that may not change
- foods may taste different as fast weight loss can alter taste buds
- working out will be more fun as there won’t be as much pressure on your joints
- you’ll probably spend less on health care as normal-weight people typically spend less money on medical bills and expenses than overweight people according to a 2009 study published in the journal Health Affairs
- you may get a raise as studies have shown that obese people make less money than normal-weight workers especially among women
- your may end up with sagging skin
- you may no longer need expensive prescription medications
- you will most likely have to see the doctor less especially if you are able to recover from a chronic illness which typically requires multiple annual doctor visits
Effective Management of Diabetes
Obesity often results from the excessive consumption of foods that strain the metabolic system. In particular, foods that are high in sugar or simple carbohydrates can tax the body’s ability to create enough insulin to process them in a healthy way. The longer that the body must contend with these metabolic demands, the more likely that obese individuals may get type 2 diabetes. This metabolic condition not only necessitates the constant supervision of blood glucose levels but also raises the risk of other problems such as blindness and nerve damage. A healthy weight loss program can minimize the chance of suffering from type 2 diabetes and its complications.
Physicians often recommend weight loss programs to patients with diabetes. This is because a reduction in body weight can help a patient better manage his or her blood sugar levels. This reduces the risk of serious complications from poorly managed diabetes, such as nerve damage, kidney damage, hearing impairment, and cardiovascular problems including heart attack and atherosclerosis. By learning how to make healthy lifestyle choices with the help of a weight loss clinic, patients can improve their insulin sensitivity. Some patients may even be able to reduce their diabetes medications, with approval from their physicians.
Better Cardiovascular Health
Obesity is a risk factor for several cardiovascular problems, including hypertension and high cholesterol. These issues, which can weaken and clog the arteries, can eventually lead to heart attacks, stroke, and heart failure. Weight loss can lessen stress on the heart and lower the incidence of plaque buildup on the arterial walls. Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States.
Weight loss is strongly associated with increased cardiovascular health. By following a low-fat, low-cholesterol, and low-sodium diet plan, you can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. If you already have hypertension or high cholesterol, then losing weight will help you to better manage these conditions.
Some people might wake up feeling exhausted and drowsy each morning, not realizing that their weight might be contributing to their sleeping problems. Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which the body cannot receive the oxygen it needs while in slumber. In many cases, this issue arises because of excessive tissues in the airway that prevents the flow of oxygen into the lungs. When these tissues block the passage of oxygen, the body wakes itself up to restart the respiratory process. This cycle can repeat dozens or even hundreds of times during a single night, preventing sufferers from getting deep sleep. A weight loss program can eliminate obstructive sleep apnea and help those with it get the sleep they need for optimal health.
You may already know that sleep deprivation increases levels of the so-called “hunger hormone,” known as ghrelin. This can lead to weight gain. But did you know that losing weight can directly lead to better sleep? In fact, weight loss is often recommended for patients with sleep apnea, a type of sleep disorder. Even if you don’t have a sleep disorder; however, weight loss may help you enjoy a more restful sleep.
Many people start a weight loss program because they want a more fit physique. However, what they might not consider is the substantial impact that losing weight can also have on their health.
By continuing to drop the excess weight until you are within your healthy weight range, you will significantly improve your health and your confidence. Plus, think of all the money you will potentially save on unnecessary medications, doctor visits, and surgeries; now use it on something special for you.
Meaningful change takes time. Always keep your non-scale victories insight and consider all the ways your small improvements have done your body good. And if you are struggling to lose weight on your own, consider a medical weight loss program to help provide you with the guidance and tools you need to successfully lose weight and keep it off!
Shedding excess weight the right way leaves you healthier and happier.
About the Author – Suzanne Gil, M.D.
Dr. Suzanne Gil obtained advanced training in bariatric (weight loss medicine) and opened Calla Slimspa Medical Weight Loss Center located in Orlando, FL in 2008 when the need for weight-related assistance became a huge priority. She is a member of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP) and dedicates 100% of her professional time to helping as many people as possible achieve their weight loss goals and improve their health. She completed her residency at Orlando Regional Medical Center and is a Board Certified Pediatrician.