VB weighed 110kg. She had always desired to look like her younger sister whose weight was 74kg. She had thought that skipping meals or regular fasting was the way to improve her looks until she met a physician who counseled her on the following approaches.
Check the amount of calories consumed: Every diet should contain at least the three major classes of food- carbohydrate, protein, and fats and oils- which supply the nutrients we need for growth and energy to carry out daily activities. These food items provide the daily calories requirements for the individual. An average man requires 2,500 kcalories per day; a woman requires 2,000 kcalories per day. Those who will achieve healthy weight should try to reduce the portions of food they eat daily if they are not sure they can increase their exercises. There is no doubt that this calls for a lot of discipline, especially among those who have the financial means to eat whatever they like. Knowledge of the health benefits of maintaining an ideal weight should encourage moderate eating habit.
Increase intake of vegetables and fruits: Vegetables and fruits are rich in fiber. Fibers are known to ensure regular bowel activity, moderate absorption of foods, among other benefits. Due to their bulky nature, vegetables and fruits provide feeling of satisfaction when taken alone. When taken during meals, they also help to reduce the size of food eaten. The calories content of vegetables and fruits are less when compared to carbohydrates or proteins. Therefore, meals rich in fruits are healthier ways to lose or maintain weight as compared to ‘starving’.
Exercise regularly: Thirty minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercises (jogging, cycling, swimming) are recommended for individuals who want to maintain their ideal weight. This should be done for at least five days of the week. These exercises also improve endurance. For individuals who need to lose weight, double the time is recommended; they need to exercise for an hour a day; five days of the week. It is advised that the individual should start with the time duration he or she can tolerate then gradually increase to the recommended duration. This will prevent early fatigue which can discourage the individual. You can start with ten minutes of regular exercises then increase to thirty or sixty minutes depending on what the goal is.
Ensure you have adequate sleep: Leptin is a hormone in the body that controls the brain to regulate hunger and satisfaction. If the level of leptin is adequate or high, individuals feel less of hunger; meaning that they get satisfied easily; and vice versa. Adequate sleep helps to maintain the appropriate level of leptin in the body. Therefore, deprivation of sleep (voluntarily or involuntarily) reduces the level of leptin in the body. This increases hunger sensation making the individual to eat more. This means that poor sleep may indirectly lead to weight gain.
Set a timetable and desired target weight: No matter how beneficial a health plan is, if regular evaluation is not done, efforts would be futile. A timetable should be set and stuck to. The desired target weight must be achievable. Ticking the days of exercises in assessing one’s efforts is essential in evaluation. There is no need desiring to lose weight when the above recommended approaches cannot be adhered to strictly. A feasible weight control guide is a loss of 1 kilogram per month. In the first year, the individual would have lost 12 kg. Imagine weighing 120kg at the beginning of the year but 108kg at the end. In the second year, applying the same gentle guide would also lead to another loss of 12 kg over a twelve month period. The individual now weighs 96kg, interesting! A patient approach will not lead to frustration. Such gentle approach also gives the advantage of not causing the cosmetic side effects that come with sudden loss of a lot of weight. Going slowly but appropriately will always win.
Benefits of maintaining an ideal weight or losing weight, include among others, the following
• Control of blood pressure
• Control of blood sugar
• Control of blood fat
• Improvement of endurance
• Reduction in risk of arthritis
• Reduction in risk of developing gallstones
• Beautiful appearance
To start a weight control programme, some individuals may need to consult a physician, nutritionist, and/or exercise instructors. Every effort to stay healthy is worth it.
Let us live…
Dr Ademola Orolu is a Consultant Family Physician. He holds the Fellowship of The West African College of Physicians. He is also an Associate Fellow of The National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria. He is in active clinical practice. He is a writer, a patient advocate, and has a passion for health education. He is the chief editor of The Family Doctors. He can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org