Commentary by Debra Balos, DO, IU Health Physicians Family Medicine
Believing that “thin is in” overlooks the true definition of what it means to be healthy. Although weight management is important, a lower number on the scale doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthier. In addition to maintaining a reasonable weight, optimal health is based on many factors, including good nutrition, regular exercise, quality sleep and sound well-being.
Setting realistic weight loss goals isn’t a bad idea. In fact, many people can gain health benefits by shedding a few pounds. Your primary care doctor can help you set achievable goals and assist in determining a weight range you should aim for given your body type and age. By checking your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar, he or she also can assess your risk of heart attack or stroke and tell whether your weight increases your risk.
When thinking about weight loss, remember that health can be improved by losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. Modest weight loss, even just five or 10 pounds, can make you feel better and increase your energy level. Instead of focusing on how much weight you think you should lose, work to make long-term lifestyle changes that will benefit your overall health:
Eat healthier — Make vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein the backbone of your diet. Cut down on serving sizes, and learn to know when you’re full.
Exercise daily — Try to fit at least 30 minutes of physical activity into your day. This doesn’t have to be at a gym or in a class. When pressed for time, take a brisk walk at lunchtime or climb extra flights of stairs between meetings or before work.
Most importantly, ban the notion that “thin is in,” and commit to sensibly managing your weight and improving your health and well-being.
Debra Balos, DO, specializes in family medicine and is a guest columnist located at IU Health Physicians Family Medicine – Zionsville. She can be reached by calling the office at 317.777.6400. For more health information, subscribe to Strength in You at iuhealth.org/StrengthInYou.