The Benefits Of Losing Weight

February 26, 2013

This is a guest post by Frank Girard.

You might think losing 10% of your weight won’t really make that big a difference. Believe me, you’ll be taking a very important step toward becoming (or staying) healthier and living longer.

Losing Weight

Physical Appearance

You’ll notice a difference in the way you look even after losing just a few pounds. You typically check your face in a mirror several times a day, so it’s easy to see the weight loss from your face and neck, where it usually first becomes apparent. Most of us tend to lose weight from the top down, starting with the face and neck and moving to the chest, belly, hips, and finally the thighs. People who are more pear shaped (meaning they tend to carry most of their excess weight in their hips and thighs) may notice weight loss in their lower body first, since their upper body might be fairly slender.

To get a better sense of what a pound of fat looks like, the next time you’re in the grocery store, stroll down the dairy aisle and pick up a pound of butter. Grab another one and imagine those 2 pounds on your chest, belly, or hips. You’d definitely notice the difference if you added those to your body-and you’ll also see (and feel) the difference if you lose that same amount of weight. And that’s just 2 pounds! Now imagine a bag filled with 12 pounds of butter. Think what it would be like to carry those 12 pounds around with you all day long-when you’re getting dressed in the morning, taking a walk, working, shopping, running errands-whatever. You are probably already carrying at least that much excess weight on your body. But within just three months, you could lose those 12 pounds for good and be well on your way to resetting your set point.

Energy and Well-being

Looking better means feeling better. You’ll see the benefits every time you look in the mirror. You’ll also notice that you have more energy and your body will feel better overall. For instance, people often say their joints don’t ache as much after they lose a little weight. Things that used to take a bit of effort, like walking up a flight of stairs, carrying groceries in from the car, or chasing after a small child, will be a bit easier after you’ve lightened your load. You’ll start to sleep better. Just imagine waking up feeling rested instead of exhausted.

Health Benefits

This is the big one. We’ve known for more than half a century that excess weight can shorten a person’s life span. Years ago, experts believed that eliminating health risks of these meant that you had to lose all of your excess weight. This was the impetus behind very low-calorie diets, in which people were essentially put on starvation diets and given only about 800 calories per day. These people were eager to return to a normal weight, so they were motivated to try to lose a lot of weight quickly. But, as you know by now, that’s a recipe for disaster, triggering a rubber-band rebound of weight regain.

We now know that most of the health benefits of weight loss actually occur in the first 5% to 10% of weight loss. For example, I led a study that compared low-calorie and very low calorie diets in 187 people with obesity and high blood pressure. The study participants were supervised during a six-month diet period and a six-month maintenance period, then checked again after one year. Both groups had lost and then regained some of that lost weight, but they lost about 5% of their weight overall. Even with this modest loss, their diastolic blood pressure (the second number in a blood pressure measurement) dropped by 12 to 13 points, on average. Since then, many additional studies have confirmed this phenomenon with high blood pressure and other health conditions.

So what do you have to lose (other than those extra pounds!)? Get out and exercise, eat right and enjoy the benefits of losing weight!

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