Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Managing a Healthy Weight, Part I

Hello 2 0 1 6 
To start off the year, I wanted to share some tips on weight management to promote healthy habits to hopefully offset the crazy "lose weight now!" mindset the New Year can bring. I know a thing or two about weight management and how important it is and I hope to effectively share that with you in this two-part post! As someone living with type one diabetes, just a few pounds up or down can completely change the amount of insulin I need, thereby affecting my blood glucose levels as well. So it's crucial for my overall well-being to keep my weight in check in a consistent, sustainable way.

Before we get to my tips, I want to clarify a few things. What's a "healthy" weight? Everyone has an individual and unique body structure and it's important to remember that there are other measures of health that go beyond body weight, and that are equally as important, if not more, which we will dig more into later.

The Nitty Gritty
The definition of a "healthy" weight is lean body mass (everything but fat) + the amount of fat necessary for good health. Technically speaking, this is defined as:

10-18 % of total body weight for men & 18-25% of total body weight for women

Why does weight matter?
Weight management is important because it directly relates to our health. Major health risks associated with being overweight and obese include (but are not limited to): heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and arthritis. You don’t have to be obese (a BMI of 30 or higher) to be at risk for disease, being overweight (a BMI of 25 - 29.9) puts you at risk for disease as well. Did you know that more than 2/3 of adults are considered to be overweight or obese? And more than 1 in 3 adults are considered to be obese?

The Basics
Food is made up of carbohydrates, lipids (fats), and amino acids (protein). These are called macronutrients. For the purpose of weight management, it can be important to know how these macronutrients translate in calorie content, and how calories translate to pounds on our bodies. Prepare yourself for some light math (sorry!)

Carbohydrates and protein both contain 4 calories per gram, while fats contain 9 calories per gram. Additionally, 3,500 calories = 1 pound. This means, to lose 1 pound per week, you would have to create a calorie deficit of 500 calories daily.

-500 calories x 7 days/week = -3,500 calories

Of course, as someone with holistic inclinations, I don't believe that calorie counting is necessarily a vital part of weight loss (there are so many factors at play!), but it is important to understand how calories factor into weight management. 
Eating 500 calories less each day is easier than you think. It could be as simple as switching to non-dairy milk or having a baked sweet potato instead of french fries or eating an apple instead of apple pie. Try using smaller plates. Try putting your fork down between each bite. Try eating meals at the table and not in front of the TV or while multitasking to prevent mindless snacking.

Setting Goals

Goal setting has been shown to be very effective in achieving lasting behavior changes. When creating your plan for weight loss, stay away from drastic changes that can only be maintained in the short term. Make plans for lifelong change. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T. 

Specific | Measurable | Attainable | Relevant/Realistic | Time-oriented

For example: "I will eat 3 servings of green vegetables at least 4 times this week."

SMART goals help you to be accountable. Too many times people make goals that are too vague, unrealistic or immeasurable.

Examples of non-SMART goals:

  •  "I'm going to eat better this week." Problem? Not specific, you can justify this vague language a million different ways to yourself, which really doesn't serve your goals.
  • "I'm going to eat perfectly every single day this week." Problem? Not realistic. You're setting yourself up for failure which begins a never-ending cycle of lack of confidence and more failures, not to mention very little self-love.


Thanks for reading Part I of Managing a Healthy Weight! You can read my Ten Tips for Weight Management in Part IIhere!

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