Love handles, muffin top, winter insulation … whatever you call it, we all know it’s just a polite way of saying ‘excess weight’ which we’d prefer took a one-way ticket out of town!
But losing weight is not easy for many people. Yo-yo dieting can wreak havoc on our body’s ability to manage fat stores. Stress, diet, exercise and health related conditions can all affect our weight and our ability to lose excess baggage. (Speak to your doctor if you have struggled to lose weight to rule out or investigate possible health related conditions and to put a weight loss plan in place that is tailored to your needs). In fact, over two-thirds of Australian adults have obesity or are overweight, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare - and that number is only increasing.
The good news is that there are many health benefits to losing weight, including less risk of disease, better life quality, improved moods, confidence, relationships, overall well-being and more. Here, are 3 health benefits to losing weight, yours for the taking!
1. Better quality of life
Having obesity or being overweight can negatively affect self-confidence and, physically, carrying excess weight places extra pressure on the body’s organs – our heart has to work harder to pump blood and oxygen around our body, our lungs have to work harder to breathe, and when we overeat, our digestive system has to work harder to digest foods.
On the flipside, losing weight and feeling healthy can positively affect our body’s ability to function optimally, as well as our mind.
Mentally and emotionally, losing weight can boost confidence and impact our motivation to exercise and eat well.
Physically, being within our healthy weight range means our body is more capable of functioning as nature intended. And when our body is operating optimally, usually everything else falls into place. In fact, it kick starts a healthy chain reaction! We sleep better (during the ‘rest and recovery’ phase, our ‘killer cells’ come out to mop up all the diseased cells in our body). We wake well-rested, feeling energised for the day and in a good mood. Our brain is firing on all cylinders, resulting in efficiency, better concentration, productivity and memory. And so on…
Now, if we ‘top up’ that healthy chain-reaction with more healthy choices – a balanced diet to fuel the body with the energy and nutrients it needs to plough through the day, and exercise, that’s a leap towards the ‘better life quality’ path!
2. Reduced risk of weight-related diseases
Obesity and excess body weight are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some musculoskeletal conditions and some cancers, according to the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare. And, frighteningly, as the level of excess weight increases, so does the risk of developing these conditions – and the potential of these conditions leading to other diseases.
However, lifestyle factors such as a healthy diet (removing processed and high fat foods), exercise and weight loss can all help reduce the risk enormously. In fact, research shows that adopting a healthy lifestyle can help prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes, and in some people, lifestyle (diet) changes have reversed the symptoms and put them into remission.
The 5 food groups
Are you getting the healthy nutrients you need to help your body perform at its optimum?
- Vegetables and legumes
- Grains (cereal)
- Lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese & alternatives
Source: The Australian Dietary Guidelines National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.
3. Increased happy factor!
Studies show that being overweight can negatively affect self-esteem, and conversely being a healthy weight can boost confidence. But there is another factor that can influence our happy factor, too. Our hormones.
Being overweight can be a symptom of a hormonal imbalance.
Keeping our hormones in balance is important because they regulate a whole load of functions, from to our appetite to our menstrual cycle, fat stores, energy and of course our hormones can affect our moods! And any woman who has experienced mood swings at ‘that time of the month’ knows how powerful and persuasive our hormones can be!
Our hormones can also affect our sleep (melatonin), our stress levels (adrenaline and cortisol), our thyroid and many other body organs, which in turn can affect the body’s ability to fight off diseases.
When our hormones are in-balance, we are in better stead physically, emotionally, and we’re in a much better place.
The ‘happy hormones’ are typically known as endorphins, dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin. These hormones can affect a whole load of things including your appetite, your confidence, your motivation to live healthier, as well as your emotional state, your relationships, your productivity, and of course your overall wellbeing.
Here’s a crash course in hormones and how to tap into them:
Endorphins are like a ‘natural high’, enhancing pleasure, reducing pain and improving our overall sense of wellbeing. Short term we might feel a surge of endorphins after having sex, doing exercise or eating a delicious meal. Long term, endorphins can boost self-esteem and a sense of wellbeing as well as alleviate depression, stress and anxiety. Several studies also show that endorphins may also be linked to controlling appetite (along with the hormones leptin and ghrelin).
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (or chemical messenger) which creates feelings of ‘pleasure and reward’ when released in large amounts. It gives us the motivation to act and be rewarded (dopamine is released as a ‘reward’). It also affects our memory, attention and other body functions.
Oxytocin is known as the ‘love hormone’. It’s released during sex, childbirth and lactation (stimulation of the nipples). It influences our social and emotional behaviour, encouraging love, bonding with our baby, positive relationships, trust, empathy and sexual activity.
Serotonin is known as the happiness chemical because it contributes to wellbeing and happiness. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression.
Struggling to lose weight? Suspect your weight condition may be linked to a hormonal imbalance or health condition? Speak to your doctor who can perform a health assessment and develop a healthy weight loss plan that suits your lifestyle and needs. Or visit https://cansciencetaketheweightoff.com/ for more interesting facts about weight loss and weight gain.