Losing weight isn’t easy. Two-for-one value meals tempt us on menus, biggie drinks look so refreshing and super-size portions seem really appetizing. And there is no shortage of books, magazines and websites touting the latest and greatest cure for being overweight. It can all seem overwhelming. But there is hope. You can take small, achievable steps to lose weight, and also reduce your risk of developing weight-related health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and some cancers.
Eating too much and being physically inactive results in weight gain. To determine if you are overweight, estimate your body mass index (BMI), which is a calculation of your body weight relative to height. Multiply your weight in pounds by 703 and then divide the result by your height in inches two times. A BMI of 18.5 to 25 is considered healthy; 25 to 30 is overweight; 30 or higher is obese. To maintain your weight, you must burn enough energy to equal the calories you eat. To lose weight, you must use more calories than you eat.
A weight-control strategy can begin with setting a realistic goal. Losing even a few pounds can improve your health, so start with a safe weight loss rate of one-half to two pounds per week. A successful weight loss plan will include lifestyle changes, not just going on a diet. Cut back on calories eaten and chose foods from a healthy assortment of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit alcohol consumption that can be high in calories, but low in nutrients. Read food labels and pay attention to serving size. Don’t be fooled by small packages that look like one serving size, but may actually be two or more.
Incorporate exercise into your weight loss program. You don’t have to sweat to get a good workout. Short exercise sessions throughout the day can be just as effective at burning calories as an extended session. Thirty minutes of moderate to intensive physical activity is recommended daily to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight after weight loss.
If you are at least 100 pounds overweight and experiencing difficulties or other medical problems due to your weight, you may be a candidate for gastric bypass surgery. This surgery reduces the amount of calories taken in by your body by either making your stomach smaller or bypassing part of the stomach and small intestines so that fewer calories are absorbed. Most patients lose about half of their excess weight within the first two years after surgery. Patients who undergo this surgery must make a strong, lifetime commitment to a healthy diet and exercise regime to ensure a successful weight loss and avoid complications.
Fad diets may help you lose weight at first, but they rarely have a lasting effect. Keep in mind four common behaviors that can help ensure the success of your weight loss program: eat a low-calorie, low-fat diet; weigh yourself frequently; be physically active; and don’t skip breakfast. Remember that losing weight, and keeping it off, requires major, long-lasting lifestyle changes.