It's not a secret that obesity negatively affects your health and well-being. A body mass index of 30 or higher, which is considered obese, puts you at a higher risk for medical conditions, such as stroke, hypertension, osteoarthritis, heart disease, Type-2 diabetes and certain cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A lifestyle change that includes healthy eating habits and regular exercise can combat the excess weight and result in a better quality of life.
Consult a doctor before starting your weight-loss quest, because sometimes underlying factors that you can't control on your own contribute to weight gain. Health conditions, such as hyperthyroidism or Cushing's syndrome, or medications that you're taking, can be responsible for your weight gain. A doctor can examine you, make a diagnosis and suggest proper treatment.
Set an initial goal to lose 5 to 10 percent of your total weight within six months. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, this amount weight loss lowers your risk of heart disease and other health conditions associated with obesity. They suggest gradually losing weight at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week by creating a deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories every day. After the six months, the healthy lifestyle you've developed can continue to result in even more weight loss.
Change your eating habits so you consume fewer calories and contribute to your daily caloric deficit. Start with small changes, such as replacing high-calorie foods, such as full-fat dairy and fatty cuts of meat, with low-calorie foods, such as low-fat dairy and lean cuts of meat. Reduce the size of your portions, and emphasize fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat or non-fat dairy. Limit saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sugar, and alcohol.
Perform 300 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity per week to burn calories. Slowly work your way up to this point. For instance, start by being more active in daily life -- take the stairs instead of the elevator, do yard work or clean the house. Then when you're comfortable with these activities, start walking, swimming or cycling at a low intensity. You might only be able to do 10 minutes, three times a week, but you can slowly increase your intensity and duration as your physical fitness improves.
Incorporate strength training in two days of the week to maintain and increase muscle tissue while you lose weight. The CDC states that strength training boosts your metabolism by 15 percent, which benefits weight loss. Work your major muscle groups. Start with one set of eight or 12 repetitions, using a weight that's heavy enough so you can't do another repetition after finishing the set. Then as you get stronger, work your way up to doing two or three sets.
Replace bad behaviors with good behaviors so you don't sabotage your weight-loss effort. For instance, if you're used to eating chips while watching television, eat veggies or fruit instead or go for a walk. If you tend to eat when you're bored, find activities that you enjoy to keep you busy. If you smoke, consider stopping, and get enough sleep every night so hunger-regulating hormones stay balanced.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: What Causes Overweight and Obesity?
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: How Are Overweight and Obesity Treated?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Why Strength Training?