Developing weight-loss habits
Courtney Keckich, MD, is a resident physician in Psychiatry at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix.
Question: I know I need to lose weight, but I’m so scared of how much I need to lose, that I don’t even know where to start. How can I make this easier?
Answer: Many people feel overwhelmed by the process of losing weight, even though we know it is important for our health. Recent studies have shown that over 65 percent of American adults are overweight. Excess weight increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis and several types of cancer. Fortunately, losing as little as 5 percent of your body weight can decrease these risks.
So what can we do? Just remember that every healthy change you make will make you healthier – even just maintaining weight and not gaining any more is a healthy change. Don’t worry about your end goal now – just focus on getting started. You do not need a brand new diet or expensive gym membership, either. Start by making the smallest change that you feel confident you will accomplish. Once you’ve mastered that, then you start thinking about other changes. This way, you will create healthy habits that you can maintain.
Here are some ideas to get you started. Try parking at the far end of a parking lot instead of the closest spot. That’s not too bad, right? You can start by doing this only once a week or once a day (for example, when grocery shopping, or at work). As you become more comfortable with the idea, do it more frequently.
Overhauling an entire diet rarely lasts. Think of one unhealthy item that you consume on a regular basis. Is there a daily soda or sugar-filled coffee drink? Cut it down to once a week.
Take the stairs. Do you have an elevator in your apartment building or parking garage? Start by walking down one flight of stairs and hopping on the elevator on the next floor. Add more flights as it becomes easier. If you’ve got that, then start walking up one flight at a time until you can take the stairs all the way up and down.
Remember, every healthy change you make helps. Take it small and before you know it, you’ll reach your goals.