Millions of people embark on a weight loss journey every year in a bid to look and feel better, have more energy and improve future health prospects. If you are one of these people, it is possible you haven’t consulted your doctor before you begin.
However, to ensure your success and for your own safety, there are five things your doctor thinks you really must know about losing weight.
1. Bathroom Scales are Not the Ideal Determinant of Your Health
Before you embark on any weight loss plan, it is important you have an accurate picture of your health. When you hop on the bathroom scales and see that single number, you are getting a very narrow picture of your health. For instance, if the scales say that you are 150lb, this is likely to be a healthy weight for a taller person, but may mean you are overweight if you are on the shorter side.
BMI can be a more useful measurement since it uses your height in its calculation which can give you a better idea of whether you are at an appropriate weight for someone of your height.
However, BMI also has its limitations since it can only measure your overall body mass and does not take into account muscle mass. If you are particularly muscular with low body fat, BMI can wrongly suggest you need to lose weight.
Taking a waist measurement can be a better indicator of fat levels since it is common that a lot of a person’s body fat is stored around the waist. Regardless of your height or weight, if your waist measurement exceeds 31.5in (80cm) for a female or 37in (94cm) for a male, then you should aim to lose weight.
2. There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Magic Formula for Weight Loss
As most people know, generally speaking, to lose weight you need to consume fewer calories and increase exercise. However, this is not as simple as it sounds: a whole range of factors need to be considered for any patient to have the best success long term. Embarking on the wrong plan can actually sometimes do more harm than good.
The best person to consult before you attempt any weight loss is your doctor. They have a complete picture of your medical wellness, so can best advise you on a plan to help you lose weight successfully by taking into your account your height, your current BMI and body fat measurements, your level of fitness and your lifestyle.
Seeking professional help will ensure that you have an appropriate, personal plan and goals that are attainable. Avoid following generic weight loss plans found online, particularly those that promise fast results since they could be completely inappropriate for your circumstances.
Your doctor can also identify any health condition, genetic predisposition or existing medication that may be a barrier to weight loss, even if they seem unrelated to weight issues. They are also familiar with the latest health discoveries and can therefore advise on the most up-to-date weight loss techniques.
It is especially important to consult a physician if you have other health issues aside from being overweight for your own safety.
3. Calories and Exercise are Not the Only Considerations in a Weight Loss Plan
Besides excess food and too little exercise, there are other factors that have a bearing on your weight. Sometimes, significant lifestyle changes are needed for you to successfully lose weight.
Healthy sleep is really important since it has an enormous effect on the body’s hormones that control cravings, and on your metabolism (the rate at which your body uses the fuel ie food that it consumes).
Not getting sufficient sleep or an irregular sleep pattern can mean you crave sugary or fatty foods or burn calories at a slower rate, so unless you address sleep problems, you may end up failing to lose any weight long term.
Stress is another factor that has an effect on hormones and your ability to lose weight successfully. If it features in your life, you will almost certainly need to take steps to reduce stress alongside a diet plan if you want to lose weight successfully.
4. Rapid Weight Loss is Not Usually Good for Your Health
If you are reducing weight by more than 2lb a week, then it is likely you are losing more than just fat. It is possible that you are losing muscle mass and water. This could mean that you end up very low in energy, in turn making it harder to stick to your weight loss plan long term.
It’s always much better to consider weight loss as a marathon and not a sprint. To ensure the long-term success of your weight loss plan, cut calories by no more than around 500 per day which should be enough to lose 1-2lb per week, and continue to drink plenty of water and take regular exercise.
5. Exercise Does Not Need to Take Over Your Life for You to Lose Weight
Some people wrongly assume that to lose weight, you need to spend all your evenings in the gym or running every morning. This can put people off attempting weight loss, but it is absolutely false to say you must dedicate hours solely to the gym or running track (hours you do not feel you have in your busy life).
While it is true to say that to lose weight you need to increase physical activity, it is usually easy to do this without losing valuable time to the gym when you already lead a busy life.
Consider the many ways you can add 20-30 minutes more physical activity into your day. This could be: walking or cycling for part or all of your commute; exercising on a machine while watching TV in the evening; using stairs rather than lifts, or choosing walking, cycling or swimming with your family as a way of spending time together. Even gardening and housework can use over 300 calories per hour. There are countless simple ways of increasing exercise without spending a fortune on a gym membership.
With these five things considered, your doctor knows that you are far more likely to succeed in your weight loss journey, and to enjoy better health in the future.