Author: Kate Higham
As we welcome the New Year, many of us are inspired to embrace new beginnings and set our sights on healthier habits. For many, this includes focusing on weight management – a goal that often tops many New Year's resolutions lists.
But weight management is more than a seasonal trend; it's a journey towards better health and well-being. This guide is your companion in understanding the ins and outs of weight management. We'll dive into why it's so important, unravel the factors influencing weight, and share practical tips to help you manage your weight effectively after the holiday indulgence.
What is weight management?
Weight management is about adopting simple, lasting changes to maintain a healthy weight. It's much more than just losing weight. It's about finding a balance - keeping your muscles strong, ensuring you have a healthy and varied diet, and looking after your overall health.
Think of sustainable weight management as a journey rather than a quick fix. Instead of jumping into restrictive diets or strict workout routines, it's about small, positive changes you can sustain daily. This might mean eating a varied, balanced diet, embracing exercise you enjoy, getting enough sleep, and finding ways to relax and de-stress.
It's really about looking at your health in a big-picture way. Weight management is a part of living a healthy, happy life. It means caring for your body, listening to it, and making choices that help you feel your best, inside and out. Before making any changes, it’s important to check in with your healthcare team. They can provide guidance and support based on your individual needs.
Why is weight management important?
Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for several reasons, and it's not just about appearances. Here's why it matters:
Health risks: A global concern
The World Health Organization (WHO) has highlighted a significant increase in global obesity rates, which have almost tripled since 1975 (1). Keeping your weight in a healthy range is vital in reducing the risk of serious health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and joint pain.
Mental health: The mind-body connection
Our physical health profoundly affects our mental well-being.
Managing stress and emotional eating through mindfulness and stress management techniques can lead to healthier responses to life’s challenges.
Quality of life: Feel good, live better
Being at a healthy weight often translates to having more energy, better sleep quality, and an overall enhanced well-being. It's about improving your daily life in every aspect. When you feel good physically, you're more likely to engage in activities you enjoy, experience more joy, and live a fuller life.
In a nutshell, weight management is about much more than fitting into a certain size or looking good for a specific occasion. It’s integral to maintaining physical and mental health, allowing you to enjoy life to its fullest potential.
What factors affect my weight?
Your weight is influenced by various factors, including:
Genetics - Just like you might inherit your mom's smile or your dad's eyes, you also inherit certain traits that affect your weight. Your genes can influence how fast or slow your metabolism is (the rate at which your body burns calories) and how your body handles food (2).
Hormones - Sometimes, your body's hormones can be off-balance, affecting your weight. For instance, conditions like hypothyroidism (where your thyroid gland is a bit sluggish) can make it more challenging to manage your weight (3).
Lifestyle - How you live dramatically impacts your weight. This includes what you eat and drink, how much you move (exercise), how well you sleep, and even how much stress you're under. Each of these factors plays its unique part in managing your weight.
Age - Our metabolism tends to slow down as we age. This means your body might burn calories slower than it used to, which can affect your weight (4).
Understanding these factors can be helpful. It shows us that weight management isn’t just about willpower; it’s also about understanding and working with your body’s unique needs and rhythms.
10 tips for managing your weight after the holidays
The holiday season is over, and many of us might be thinking about how to get back into a healthier routine. Don't worry; it's all about taking small steps and being kind to yourself. Here's how you can start:
Tip #1: Embrace gradual changes
Think baby steps, not giant leaps. Instead of jumping into harsh diets, try making little, lasting changes in your eating habits and exercise routine. It's all about creating a sustainable lifestyle.
Tip #2: Eat a balanced diet
Aim for a colorful plate – add lots of fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains. These foods are not just nutritious; they can also be delicious.
The CDC recommends improving your eating habits by following an approach in which you reflect, replace, and reinforce.
- Reflect on all of your specific eating habits, both bad and good; and, your common triggers for unhealthy eating.
- Replace your unhealthy eating habits with healthier ones.
- Reinforce your new, healthier eating habits.
Tip #3. Enjoy your exercise
Find an activity that makes you smile – dancing, walking, or playing a sport. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly (5). Remember, it's not just about burning calories; it's also about feeling good and staying healthy.
Tip #4: Practice mindful eating
Take your time with your meals. Eating slowly without distractions like TV can help you enjoy your food more and realize when you’re full. The Mayo Clinic says this mindfulness can help you build a healthier relationship with food.
Tip #5. Listen to your body
Everyone's body is different. Pay attention to how you feel after eating certain foods or after different types of exercise. It’s all about finding what works best for you.
Tip #6. Set realistic goals
Aim for achievable, sensible weight goals. Research shows that losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can bring significant health benefits (6). It's not about quick fixes; it's about long-term change. Talk to a healthcare provider about what goals are most suitable for your individual health needs.
Tip #7. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of water is essential, to prevent dehydration. By keeping yourself well-hydrated, you can more accurately respond to your body's needs.
Tip #8: Get enough sleep
Good sleep is crucial. Not getting enough shut-eye can mess with your hunger hormones and zap your energy. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night (7)
Tip #9: Manage your stress
Try calming activities like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing to help manage stress. It can be helpful to talk to a professional about ways to manage stress.
Tip #10: Keep a food journal
By recording what you eat, you not only track your daily intake but also start to uncover patterns in your eating habits. This could include identifying trigger foods that lead to overeating, times of day when you're most likely to snack, or even emotional states that influence your food choices. This journal can be shared with your healthcare provider as they work with you to help you meet your goals.
Weight management virtual consultation
When it comes to effective weight management, knowing your body inside out is key.
During a LetsGetChecked virtual consultation, you'll gain valuable insights into how your unique body functions. These sessions are more than routine check-ups; they offer a deep dive into your individual health profile. Together, we’ll explore factors like your medical history, symptoms, and any concerns you might have.
This isn't a one-size-fits-all solution; it’s a customized approach tailored to your body's needs.
- World Health Organisation: Obesity and its roots. Online. Who.int
- Harvard Health Publishing: Does metabolism matter in weight loss? Online. Health.harvard.edu
- Cleveland Clinic: Hormonal Imbalance. Online. Clevelandclinic.org
- Mayo Clinic: Metabolism and weight loss. Online. Mayoclinic.org
- The American Heart Association: What Exercise is Right for Me? Online. Heart.org
- Harvard Health Publishing: The far-reaching effects of a little bit of weight loss. Online. Health.harvard.edu
- The Sleep Foundation: How Much Sleep Do You Need? Online. sleepfoundation.org