What do you have to gain by losing weight?
Finding some good reasons to lose weight can take you from just
thinking about losing weight to actually doing something about it.
People don't take action unless there are good reasons for it! And, most
importantly, having good, meaningful reasons to reach your goal can help you
maintain your weight goal once you get there.
Reason #1 - Look Better
No matter what age we are, we have an ideal of
what we want to look like. How we look to ourselves (and to others) is rarely
"good enough" and for anyone who is overweight, it's a real motivator to lose.
Unfortunately, this starts at a very young age. A recent study published in
Pediatrics concluded that as early as age 5, girls with higher
body weight reported lower self-esteem than girls with lower body weight.*
Men typically want a flatter stomach, and women are usually
concerned about having smaller hips and thighs. This makes sense since the
deposition of body fat is heavily influenced by sex - women tend to gain weight
in the lower part of their body and men tend to carry extra weight around the
mid-section. For awhile, you can cover up extra body weight by choosing looser
clothing, but eventually there's a point of no return!
What's the first thing that happens when you lose weight? People
say "you look good, have you lost weight?" Have you ever heard anyone say, "I
bet your arteries look great" or" how's that blood pressure now that you've lost
20 pounds?" And, doesn't it feel good when you can fit into the "thin" clothes
you hid in the back of your closet?
So, looking better is a great reason to lose weight, but you might
want to be concerned if it's your only reason. And, take a reality check. Looks
and body type are strongly influenced by genetics. Making the best of what
you've got is much more reasonable than trying to look like someone else.
Reason #2 - Feel Better
Getting a few pounds off can make a big difference in energy
level, it's a simple matter of physics. When you carry extra body fat, it's like
dragging around a 10-pound case of butter. Extra body fat is just storage
tissue, it doesn't make you stronger like 10 pounds of extra muscle. So, the
extra fat weight drags the body down, zapping energy, and over time it adds up
to being less energetic. Studies of body movement and calorie burning have shown
that obese people tend to move less. This makes for a cycle of - extra body fat
- less energy - move less - gain more weight - move even less!
Body weight takes it's toll on joints, particularly ankle, knee
and hip joints because they have to bear the weight. This joint pain, of course,
makes it much harder for people to move and once again, makes it harder for an
overweight body to burn the calories needed to lose weight.
But going on any diet doesn't necessarily make you feel better.
"Crash" diets can make the problem worse! Quick weight loss leads to loss of
water and muscle, and less fat. Eating too few calories doesn't give you enough
energy to lose the right kind of weight!
Reason #3 - Get Healthy
If you're under the age of 30, you may not be too motivated to
lose weight for health reasons. After all, the diseases that are strongly
associated with obesity like heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and
diabetes typically happen to those over 30. You've got other things to think
about now - your education, career, finding someone to share your life with.
Your reasons for wanting to lose weight are just as valid, but good health may
not be one of them yet.
For those who are over 30 and are overweight, health concerns can
become a major priority and it can hit home very quickly. Eating well and
getting into better shape so that you can be around to enjoy your children and
live life to its fullest are great reasons to make changes to your eating
habits. And of course, looking better and feeling better is part of the whole
If you're making the effort to lose weight, the more reasons you
have to follow through and the more meaningful those reasons are to you, the
more likely it is that you'll be successful. Remind yourself of what those
reasons are and follow a plan that doesn't just take you to your goal, but keeps
*Pediatrics, Vol 107, No.1, January 2001