When I was asked to create an article for our newsletter about Healthy Weight Week, I hesitated for just a moment. After all, my BMI puts me far outside the “normal weight” range! I agreed to write about Healthy Weight Week because I am both a healthcare provider and a woman who has struggled with her weight throughout her lifetime. While I know the health benefits of maintaining a normal weight, I know all too well the health effects of being outside of it.
My Struggle with Weight
Although I am in the “obese” category according to my BMI, I am at the healthiest weight I’ve been in 20 years. It is no exaggeration to say that my weight has been an issue for me almost my entire life. Manipulation of food and dieting is so widespread in my family that they have become a sort of pastime for many of us. What I have not learned to address until recently are the reasons that I manipulate food and consume it for uses other than the nourishment of my body. Food has been a comfort to me in hard times, and been a part of the celebration at joyous events. It has required vigilance and great effort on my part to find other ways to cope with difficult times and celebrate during the happy ones.
Motivation for Change
Change is difficult and, at times, even painful. One must have some sort of motivation to initiate and sustain change. New Year’s resolutions, graduations, and job interviews have been some motivators in the past. Those events have been strong enough to help me to lose as much as 30 pounds in the past, but when the occasion passed or “life got in the way”, I would go back to my old habits and re-gain every bit of weight I’d lost. A few years ago, I fell in love with my fiance and found my biggest and best motivator: becoming a mother. My desire to some day have a healthy pregnancy and be the best mom I can be led me to make drastic changes in the way I eat. It is also what drives me to get out of bed early in the morning to exercise!
At my highest weight, I was more than 130 lbs away a “normal” BMI. Setting that as my goal would have been way too overwhelming. Evidence has shown that even small reductions in weight (5-10% of body weight) can cause improvement in blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and reduce the risks of other chronic diseases. Making several “mini-goals” along the way can help us eventually reach our ultimate, “big” goal. Other evidence-based tools to help with weight loss are: keeping a food diary and having a workout buddy. Keeping a food diary helps us to keep track of what we eat- even if we’re not counting calories. When we’re aware of what we eat, we can begin to make needed changes. It makes us accountable to ourselves. Having a workout buddy has been shown to increase the frequency with which people exercise. When we have someone waiting to meet us on the walking trail or gym, we’re more likely to show up!
Now You Go
Whether it’s welcoming the New Year or celebrating Healthy Weight Week, I invite you to think about what healthy changes you’d like to make in your life. What are your “mini-goals”? Don’t forget to let your nurse practitioner or midwife know about your health goals when you have your next visit. We’d love to cheer you on!