No matter our age, it’s hard not to think about how 5 or 10 fewer pounds might make us happy. It can mean the difference in a dress size. It can be a boost to self-esteem.
It can mean a compliment from an observant friend or spouse. It can give us a sense of pride that we’ve passed by enough tempting delicacies that we now are 5–10 pounds slimmer.
While all of these experiences can lift the spirit, what I’d like to focus on today are the health benefits of losing that seemingly small amount of 5 or 10 pounds. If the aesthetic benefits aren’t enough, these statistics will surely enlighten you.
Let’s say you are in your mid-60s and you are 10 pounds overweight. You love being outdoors, walking your dog or just taking in the surroundings. But lately, your knee is bothering you to the point where your outdoor time is just not enjoyable the way it once was.
You now are walking less, and you worry that by being inactive you will gain even more weight. You think about this knee pain leading to eventual knee replacement.
Here’s where a small amount of weight loss enters the picture and changes your life. A study found that for every pound of weight you lose, you decrease the pressure exerted on that sore knee by 4 pounds!
Yes, every pound of weight places 4 pounds of pressure on the knee joint. Lose one or two, or even 5 pounds and you’ll give your sore knee a helping hand. Build up your quads and hamstrings and you’ll help it even more.
But joint pain relief isn’t the only positive of losing even those small amounts of weight.
Losing just 10 pounds will lower your blood pressure! Heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States. Lower your weight and your heart won’t have to work as hard to move blood through your body.
Weight loss lowers your risk for Type II diabetes. This condition is closely related to diet. As you grow into your 60s and 70s, you may be more prone to it. Lose those 5 or 10 pounds and your risk decreases.
For anyone needing to lose 5 or 10 pounds, or a great deal more, the techniques I describe below will get you started.
There’s nothing more daunting than setting out intending to lose 50 or 60 pounds. Much better to think in segments, or small steps. Lose 5 or 10, then do it again. It makes it achievable when you change your lifestyle in phases.
Tell yourself you decided to eat well instead of dieting. Dieting suggests deprivation. We want to create a lasting lifestyle that energizes you and gets your weight where you want it to be.
If your habits push you in a direction of weight gain, then change them. Dedicate to eating three meals daily and eat most of them at home. Cooking your food will put you in a positive mindset that will help you with those pounds.
Become conscious of your eating style. Is it too fast? Are you enjoying your food or are you distracted by media? Change the variables that deprive you from enjoying your meal.
Eat simple whole foods. These are foods that are fresh. Organic when possible. They have no added sugar, salt, and oils. You get to season them as you like – with herbs. Take no more than 20 minutes for meal prep most days.
After having a healthy meal, don’t continue snacking well into the evening/night. Don’t take in anything but water for 3 hours before bedtime. Check out the Circadian rhythm study for more information.
Daily or even weekly weigh-ins can discourage you. Wait at least a month. Keep moving. Moving is hard at first, but after a short while you’ll find it is an amazing source of energy. How else could athletes keep at it day after day?
To do all of the above with less of a struggle, it might be wise to follow this action plan:
What is your experience with weight loss? Have you had experience with minor weight loss changing your health for the better? Please share your story – and questions – in the comments section.