February 11, 2012

BMI, Part III – How to change it!

Posted in Weight Loss tagged , , , , , , , at 12:19 pm by Dr Michelle Torrance ND, LAc

This is the last piece of my BMI discussion, and really, at the end of the day, this is the only part of BMI that most of us care about: our weight.

Most of us would love to be truthful when we say that we manage our weight because we “want to be healthier“, but most of the time our primary motivation for weight loss is because we feel better at a lower weight than we do at a higher one. Simple as that. For many of us a lower weight means a smaller dress size. But I want you to think of some of the other benefits that a lower weight brings:

  • If you are active in any sport, a lower weight usually translates into increased endurance, less muscle and joint strain, fewer injuries and better performance. A good example of this is a patient of mine who recently started rock climbing again. His initial modest loss of 8 lbs has already become an advantage when he’s hanging off a wall. Don’t underestimate gravity!
  • Improved fertility. For many women and men, even a small 5-10% change in body weight can hugely impact your ability to conceive. Remember, in Part II, when I discussed the metabolic effects of adipocytes (fat cells)? Well, this is one of the negative effects of carrying around too much weight. That extra weight is increasing your estrogen, decreasing your insulin sensitivity, throwing your adrenal function out of whack and thereby creating havoc with your hormones and your ability to regulate them.
  • Mood. This is an easy one. If we feel better about our bodies, we tend to feel more optimistic about our lives in general.
  • Energy. When we eat right, we feel good. Simple. Many times the food we eat causes our systems to be sluggish. When we clean it up, we literally “run” more efficiently. Less puffiness, bloating, better GI function. All of this translates into better energy.
  • Sleep. Carrying extra weight, especially visceral fat (the fat within the abdominal cavity), causes many of us to have difficulty breathing at night. Snoring is more common in heavier individuals. Sleep apnea has many causes, but extra weight in the torso and neck can hugely impact our ability to inhale & exhale efficiently. If there is enough excess weight on our chest, our breathing can literally stop. If we can get more oxygen during the night, we will feel better in the morning.

These are just a few examples of the real-life ways that being at a healthy weight can impact our lives for the better.

So, how to get there?

Research has proven time and time again that there are really only three things that need to happen for a person to successfully reach their goal weight:

  1. Pick a plan and stick with it. Really, almost any eating plan will work as long as it is followed consistently. This doesn’t take into account eating preferences, health benefits, nutritional or performance goals. To find a plan that you like, that feels right for you and does meet your other health goals, I recommend working with your doctor or a nutritionist or a personal trainer who has the right education and experience to advise you.
  2. Journal. I know, we all hate it. But there is nothing that is more effective at showing the truth of what we consume. You don’t need to write down every gram and calorie, but you do need to make a list of everything that passes your lips. It is enlightening! Many of us have a faulty memory when it comes to what we eat. Generally, we believe that we consume far, far less than we truly do. This is often because our food choices leave us unsatisfied. By writing down what we eat, we can make educated decisions to make better and more effective choices.
  3. Accountability. Find someone to be responsible to. Granted, choosing to lose weight and make lifestyle changes needs to be personally driven decision. However, being accountable to another individual will help you realize your goals. Knowing that you will be following up with your doctor, weighing in with your nutritionist, meeting up with a friend for a workout or training with your personal trainer will help you make the best decision possible when a food temptation comes your way, or when you feel like blowing off a workout that day.

And that is the magic formula – pick a plan and do it, write it down every day and check-in with somebody!