A Healthy Weight for Heart Health

Chart of US population with BMI>30

Where does your state fall?

With over one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults being obese, weight has become a hot topic. Obesity is defined as excess body fat and a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater as calculated based on your weight for height. We know excess body weight can be a risk factor for several diseases including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. But for those struggling to attain or maintain a healthy weight, what are some useful strategies that will help. First, you should know your weight and BMI. Here is a helpful online BMI calculator. Second, you should know what weight is realistic for you. Not everyone is healthy at the ideal bodyweight for their height. Take into consideration your body build and muscle mass. If you look like a football player, then a BMI of 30 might be okay for you. Consider having your body fat percentage measured to see if you are indeed obese. BMI is only a calculation and does not take into consideration if you are male, female, young, elderly, athletic or sedentary. Your body fat percentage will give you a better idea of your true body proportion. Third, give thought to why you may be obese. Do you tend to overeat? Are your meals high in calories? Do you stress eat? Are you sedentary most of the time?  Do you have a health problem that restricts your ability to exercise? Are you taking medication that makes you gain weight? Are you taking insulin? These are the most common factors we see in weight gain. Fourth, what small changes can you make today in order to promote gradual weight loss. Do you consume too many calories from sugary beverages? Are your portion sizes too large? Do you tend to eat high fat, high calorie foods? Do you snack frequently on sweets or junk food? Do you skip meals during the day and then overeat at night because you are famished? Fifth, remember, you do not gain weight overnight and you cannot lose it overnight. Weight loss is more of a marathon than a sprint. Losing weight too quickly can be harmful to your health and usually leads to regaining the weight later. Slow is better with weight loss so as long as you are making steady progress each month, you are on the right track. A 1-2 pound weight loss each week is considered a healthy weight loss. This equals 4-8 pounds per month or 50-100 pounds per year. Small changes can add up to big rewards over time. Sixth, weight loss is a journey. Having support and inspiration along the way makes a big difference. Surround yourself by people that are living a healthy lifestyle. Find encouragement from others that are at a weight you would like to be. Stay away from those that tempt you with food or activities that do not promote your goals. Seventh, find an activity that you enjoy doing. Exercise does not have to be an intense hour of aerobics or kickboxing. It can be walking the dog, dancing, roller skating, swimming, taking a bike ride or anything else that gets you moving. Staying active does not require an expensive gym membership, a fancy pair of walking shoes or workout equipment. But it must be fun and convenient for you. Sustained weight loss results from lifestyle changes not dieting. Find what works for you and ask for help from your healthcare provider if you are not successful on your own. There are several good resources available that can help you get to your healthy weight. Your heart will thank you.

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