Dear Dr. Baskett: According to the charts, I am 75 lbs overweight; my New Year’s resolution is to lose all of that weight; what do you think?
A. That is an honorable goal but realize that you do not have to lose all of your excess weight to improve your health. It is not always attainable and thus, do not set yourself up for failure.
For example, say that you weigh 200 lbs. and are 5 feet 3 inches in height; let’s also assume that you weighed about 145 pounds when you graduated from high school; you never did weigh 125 lbs as an adult. Can you lose 75 lbs now to reach 125 lbs? Possibly. Will that new weight be maintainable? That is the important question.
Research has shown that you do not have to reach your “ideal” body weight to have optimal health. In fact, a weight loss of five to 10-percent of your initial body weight can bring about marked improvements in health. In your situation, we would be talking about a 20 lb. weight loss that would take you to 180 lbs.
These are some of the health benefits that you can expect with that type of weight loss:
An increase in HDL (the good form of cholesterol); on average, a five to 10-percent weight loss can result in at least a five point increase in HDL; with HDL, the higher the better
An improvement in blood pressure; on average, a five to 10-percent weight loss can reduce blood pressure by at least 5mmHg
A reduction in triglyceride levels; high triglycerides are associated with Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Attacks, and Stroke.
An improvement in HgbA1c; a five to 10-percent weight loss can result in at least a 0.5 point decrease – usually much more. HgbA1c reflects what your blood sugars have been running for the previous three months.
A reduction in inflammation; the fat cell produces inflammatory chemicals that are involved in disease processes. These inflammatory chemicals can bring about damage to blood vessels leading to heart disease and stroke we well as joint destruction. A modest weight loss will decrease this inflammatory process.
So… instead of committing to a huge weight loss this year, start with small changes and build upon them. Keep your goals realistic and work on making positive lifestyle changes. The goal is to develop healthier habits that will be maintained. In the process, you will lose an amount of weight that can positively impact your health.
Dr. Kathleen T. Baskett is medical director of the St. Vincent Healthcare Weight Management Clinic and author of “Moving Forward: The Weigh to a Healthier Weight.