No matter if you're 15 or 50 pounds overweight, shedding those extra pounds goes beyond a New Year's resolution -- it's a lifestyle choice, albeit one that's not always simple. Just ask Dain Wahl, DO, a board-certified internal medicine physician with The Christ Hospital. "I was an overweight kid, and I still struggle with my weight, but I've learned how to manage it," he says. Today, he's showing his patients how to do the same.
"Excess weight and obesity are some of the biggest health concerns in America, and much of it has to do with people's lifestyle choices," Dr. Wahl says. "I help patients figure out what's best by first looking at why they're overweight, and then what weight-loss options will be successful."
What's considered healthy?
Simply stepping on the scale isn't always the best way to determine your weight loss needs. Instead, Dr. Wahl says you also have to account for your height and body type. Physicians often measure a person's body mass index, or BMI, to get the most accurate assessment.
A BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese, and a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. Strive to keep your BMI between 18.5 and 24.9. For some, its easier said than done, but your primary physician can help you review your weight-loss options and set realistic goals.
Know your options
"For most people who struggle with weight management, they can do it on their own," Dr. Wahl says. The trick is knowing where to start.
o Shape up your diet. Don't tell yourself certain foods are off limits or try to restrict your calories. "Instead, try small changes like incorporating one new fruit or vegetable into each meal every week," Dr. Wahl explains. Keeping a food diary can also help you track when, what and how much you're eating. Use it to determine what habits you can eliminate. The Christ Hospital also offers nutritional advice to help shape a balanced diet.
o Create (and stick to) an exercise plan. Incorporating exercise into your daily activities will improve your overall health, and is a sure way to burn calories. Start slow and work your way up. "Try a new workout video every week for four weeks, or walk after dinner for 15 minutes instead of watching TV," Dr. Wahl recommends. "Once you get into a routine, you'll start to see progress."
o Consider surgical intervention as a last resort. When diet and behavior modification are not enough or cannot be done safely to sustain your weight loss, surgical intervention may be an option. However, undergoing weight-loss surgery is a serious decision that can only be made after talking to your physician and a bariatrician.
A heavy burden on your health
If you have hard time finding motivation to address a weight problem, consider this: Excess weight -- even as few as 10 extra pounds -- can take a toll on major systems of the body, including:
Cardiovascular System -- Extra pounds, especially around the midsection, can sometimes impede the flow of blood to the heart and lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even heart disease and stroke.
Skeletal System -- Extra weight strains the bones and joints, especially in the hips and knees, leading to chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis. It also makes it more difficult to exercise.
Respiratory System -- Excess weight makes it harder for the respiratory system to work with ease, making breathing more difficult and leading to conditions like asthma and sleep apnea.
Endocrine System -- Overweight people increase their risk for Type 2 diabetes since their bodies tend to resist insulin, have lower levels of immunity and have decreased metabolism.
Brain -- People who are overweight or obese can have self-esteem issues, feel overwhelmed by the amount of weight they have to lose and become easily frustrated. This can all lead to depression, Dr. Wahl says.
"Most people know when they are overweight, but don't seek help from their primary care doctor until they need to be seen for a physical ailment like high cholesterol or blood pressure, a general lack of energy or pain in their joints," Dr. Wahl explains. "That's why it's important to consult your physician before those extra pounds lead to a more serious medical problem."
You don't have to struggle with weight loss. Find a physician who can help you weigh your options by calling 877-904-4YOU or visiting www.GetHealthyCincinnati.com