Obesity and weight loss can be major challenges for those of us who struggle with chronic illness. Unlike healthy people, we can’t just hit the gym harder and work off the excess pounds. So what can we do?
Below is a list of tips to consider if you are trying to manage your weight.
1- Visit your doctor.
Weight gain can sometimes be caused by an underlying medical issue. There are thousands of things that can be impacting your weight. Thyroid issues, hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance and certain nutritional deficiencies can all cause you to pack on the pounds, despite diet and exercise. If you are struggling to lose weight, talk to your healthcare provider, request lab testing and rule out any medical condition concerns.
2- Eat right.
Eating right is different for everyone. You have to decide what is best for your body, your health and your lifestyle. Two people can be on the same diet and have completely different results. Certain health conditions can inhibit your tolerance to specific diets. For example, those who have chronic kidney disease are discouraged from diets such as Adkins or the Keto diet due to the high amount of animal protein consumed. People with endocrine conditions such as diabetes or hypoglycemia are discouraged from intermittent fasting due to unstable blood glucose levels. People with mental health issues, depression and anxiety sometimes struggle with low carb diets due to the lack of serotonin. You have to figure out the diet you feel best on. The goal is to eat as naturally as possible. Avoid refined sugars, saturated fats and artificial ingredients such as aspartame, MSG, preservatives and artificial coloring.
3- Stay Active.
Obviously, not everyone is a marathon runner or power lifting champion. Those with chronic health conditions may not be able to perform extensive exercise, however it is still important to stay as active as possible. Simple exercises such as walking or swimming are low impact and beneficial to the body. Don’t think you have to torture yourself to stay active. The old saying is true, If you don’t move it- you lose it. Little things like walking up and down stairs, climbing in and out of a bathtub or bending down to pick something up are ways we move our bodies without even realizing it. If you are struggling with exercise, start with 15 minutes of low impact stretching a day. Conditioning your body is a slow process. The point is just to keep moving and stay as active as possible!
How many of our calories do we consume unnecessarily through sugary drinks? Do not drink your calories. Sugary coffees, sodas, milkshakes and slushies are wasted calories. Our bodies are not meant to process high amounts of sugar all at once. Consistently drinking these beverages can cause insulin issues and lead to Type Two Diabetes. Water is what your body is made of. We need to stay hydrated to stay as healthy as possible. Drink adequate water and avoid the sugary drinks!
5- Assess your medications.
Talk with your healthcare provider about the medications you are taking. Certain medications cause weight gain. Steroids and anti-depressants are notorious for causing weight gain. No one wants to be on medication and sometimes they are absolutely necessary. But check with your doctor to see if there may be alternatives to your prescriptions that could be causing weight gain. If not, don’t fret. What’s the point of looking good if you don’t feel good? Take the medications you need for the best quality of life possible. Don’t beat yourself up if they have caused you to gain weight. The point of life is to live to the fullest every day, and if medications help you do that, the extra pounds are a small price to pay.
Adequate rest and sleep are essential to being healthy. When your body is run down, exhausted and tired it cannot function at 100%! Your body will be stressed out and that can cause increased cortisol levels and lead to weight gain. Rest when you are tired. Sleep the recommended amount of at least 8 hours a night.
7- Manage Stress.
If you are constantly burning the candle at both ends, your body is going to react to that. If your body goes into survival mode, it is going to slow your metabolism, store fat and not work properly. High stress is one of the worst things you can do to your body. Weight loss won’t happen until you get your stress levels under control. Practicing healthy habits like meditation, having a positive mindset, avoiding negative people and performing relaxation techniques are great ways to manage stress.
Preparation is the key to success. Planning your meals, grocery shopping and meal prep are essential to successful weight loss. You cannot lose weight if you are constantly eating fast food and consuming poor-quality nutrition. Meal plans can be found for free online and there are thousands of diet books and resources available. Your health is an investment and you must take the time to invest in it. Plan your meals, learn to cook at home and avoid fast food.
9- Get a Support System.
Losing weight is a difficult process. It helps to have people that will support you along your weight loss journey and keep you accountable. Join a support group, go on a healthy diet with your spouse or best friend, exercise in a class at the local gym or YMCA. Find people who will help you reach your goals. Avoid negative people who don’t support you. This is your life, your health and your goals. Align yourself with people who will lift you up and not tear you down.
10- Love yourself.
Ultimately, you are not defined by your looks or your weight. The goal of weight loss should be to feel better not look better. Weight loss is about being as healthy as possible. If you are miserable on a certain diet, don’t torture yourself. Some people go into severe depression on low carb diets while others have success. You have to know what is best for your body and love yourself for who you are. Your weight doesn’t define you, your heart does. All you can do is your best and that is enough.
Best of luck with your weight loss journey.
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