If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that none of us are invincible. We are all susceptible to illness. Some of us more than others like increasing body weight.
To protect ourselves, we practice social distancing and wear a mask when going out in public.
These defense systems are designed to protect us from the worst of COVID-19.
But social distancing and wearing a mask are useless if you are not healthy.
Obesity is not a choice. It is a medical diagnosis used to describe a condition that is treatable.
You did not choose to be obese, but you can choose to be healthy.
Studies now show that dropping 5% of your body weight, even if you are obese, can significantly reduce your risk of developing severe symptoms to illnesses like COVID-19.
Dropping 5% of your body weight seems insurmountable. Like climbing a mountain without gear. Or even with gear if you’re not specially trained.
However, all it takes is ten simple habit changes and you can succeed at dropping that very slight amount of weight.
How much is 5%? If you are 220 pounds right now, a 5% drop would be 11 pounds.
If you’re 180 pounds, you only have to lose 9 pounds to drastically lower your health risks.
How much do you have to lose? If you want to be successful at weight loss, it helps to understand just how much at risk you are.
This is because of human nature. You will do more to avoid pain than they will to seek out pleasure.
The pleasure, in this case, is losing the weight and feeling terrific. The pain is an illness, including severe symptoms of COVID-19.
By understanding the risks to your health that obesity causes, you will be more likely to follow through with your habit changes and keep the weight off for good.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just added obesity to its list of conditions that can make symptoms of COVID-19 worse.
This is because hospitals began noticing that obese patients were three times more likely to develop the most severe symptoms.
Obese patients are also being put into the ICU in larger numbers than average weight individuals and are most likely to require ventilators, age not being a factor.
There is a theory as to why obesity boosts the odds of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19.
Overweight individuals tend to have higher resistance in their airways. Coupled with lower lung volume and weakened breathing ability, and you have a recipe that is ripe for complete respiratory failure.
Another reason why the obese tend to decline so rapidly when developing an illness like the coronavirus is because being obese has already made them sick.
COVID-19 is hard enough on the body and breathing systems. But imagine if your body were being attacked by a virus and you also have one or more of the following conditions to contend with.
Your blood pressure should ideally be at 120/80 mm Hg or less.
Obesity can increase your blood pressure.
That’s because having a larger body size means that your heart must pump harder to supply blood to your cells.
More fat on the body can also damage your kidneys, which helps to regulate blood pressure.
Obesity tends to correlate with high blood cholesterol (not the good kind) and higher triglycerides, which can both lead to increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
The term is used to describe several problems that may affect the heart.
People who are overweight or obese often have health problems that increase the risk of heart disease.
These problems can include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar.
Excess body weight may also cause changes to the heart, forcing it to work harder to send blood to all the cells in your body.
A stroke happens when the flow of blood to a part of your brain stops, which can cause brain cells to die.
The most common type of stroke is known as an ischemic stroke. This kind occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery that carries blood to the brain.
Another is called a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.
People who are overweight are known to have high blood pressure. This issue is known to be the leading cause of strokes.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes.
More than 87% of adults with diabetes are overweight or obese.
This is a condition when blood sugar levels rise higher than normal.
Your blood sugar should remain at less than 100 mg/dl. If your blood sugar rises, you could develop Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a significant factor in the development of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Severe complications of Type 2 diabetes can lead to amputation and blindness.
Fatty liver disease (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)) happens when fat builds in the liver, causing injury.
Fatty liver disease can lead to severe liver damage, scar tissue (cirrhosis), and liver failure.
Kidney disease implies that your kidneys are so damaged that they can no longer filter blood like they should.
Your kidneys consist of two organs shaped like beans that filter blood. This filtering process removes excess water and waste from blood and converts it into urine.
Your kidneys are also responsible for helping to control your blood pressure so your body can remain healthy.
Damage to the kidneys can cause waste products to build up in the body, which can lead to significant health damage.
Obesity increases the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, both of which represent the most common causes of chronic kidney disease.
Recent studies suggest that obesity itself may promote chronic kidney disease and quicken its progress.
Osteoarthritis is a common health problem that can cause pain and stiffness in your joints.
Being overweight is one of the risk factors for osteoarthritis.
Having extra weight can place added pressure on joints and cartilage, causing those tissues to wear over time.
More body fat may also lead to you having higher levels of substances in your blood, which can cause inflammation.
Turns out, inflamed joints tend to raise the risk for developing osteoarthritis.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States.
Cancer happens when cells in one part of the body grow out of control. These abnormal cells can form in the colon, lungs, kidneys, and many other areas of the body.
The cancerous cells can occasionally travel to other parts of the body, such as the liver.
Gaining weight as an adult puts you at greater risk for several types of cancer. This is the case even if the weight gain doesn’t result in being overweight or obese.
The most common cancers linked to being overweight and obese include breast cancer (after menopause), colon, rectum, endometrium (lining of the uterus), gallbladder, and kidney.
Even without adding COVID-19 to the mix, as you can see, obesity is taxing on your health.
Each year, obesity is cited as a contributing factor in around 100,000 and 400,000 deaths.
This information is not meant to frighten you.
Being obese does increase your risk of developing these illnesses, but nothing is guaranteed.
This is only meant to show you that being obese can put you in danger. And that you can lower your risk by dropping a small percentage of your body weight.
First, let’s determine if you are indeed obese or merely overweight.
There are two ways to measure this.
The body mass index is a scale that determines if you are underweight, average weight, overweight, or obese.
Your BMI is calculated by taking your weight in kilograms and then dividing that amount by the square of your height in meters.
Don’t worry if you can’t convert all of that in your head. The CDC has devised a handy BMI calculator for just this occasion.
Plug in your height in feet and inches, and your weight in pounds, then hit the calculate button. There is also a metric option if you prefer that way.
Of course, only your physician is qualified to determine your true BMI. Your findings here should only be used as an estimate.
You can also measure your waist if you have a tape measure handy.
Of all the areas of your body, having too much fat around your waist puts you at the greatest health risk.
Women with a waist size over 35 and men with more than 40 may have higher chances of developing one or more obesity-related diseases.
Now let’s work on dropping that 5% of your body weight.
Dropping a few pounds is best when done slowly. Only about a pound a week is needed for healthy weight loss.
This is excellent news!
It means you don’t have to completely overhaul your lifestyle to live a healthier life.
Small changes over time can lead to drastic outcomes, and that includes long-term weight loss.
Here are five habit changes to try. These can be done at home or anywhere you happen to be, no gym required.
Number one on our list is the easiest to implement. You simply replace one item each meal with a healthier item. Brown rice instead of white rice or sugar-free soda instead of regular.
These small changes can add up over time and don’t require a drastic change to your lifestyle. Yet they can help you lose the requisite pound a week to reach your healthier weight goal.
If you can get on all fours, you can do a pushup. Use your knees and lower yourself down. Then come back up.
If you can stand shoulder-width apart and squat down, that’s a squat.
Each day choose a body part and do a set of ten. Increase your sets as you get better.
Every exercise you do helps you increase your lean body mass (which in turn burns fat).
You are more likely to control your hunger when you pre-plan your meals. Choosing your meals when you’re ravenous can lead to overeating.
To combat this, plan your meals ahead of time. Meal prepping is one idea, whereby you cook your meals on one day of the week and portion them throughout the week using Tupperware or Ziplock bags.
When you know which meals to reach for, you are less likely to overeat. At the same time, you increase your odds of dropping the weight.
Here is a trick you can try even at restaurants. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables for each meal.
Over time, try filling the other half with lean meats like fish, chicken, and beef, eggs, lentils, and other protein-rich foods.
This trick alone can cause you to eat fewer calories, which can result your weight loss goal.
A health journal can help you track what you eat, when you eat, and how much.
Pay close attention to your mood when you eat and how hungry you are.
Eventually, you will notice patterns that can help you develop strategies for handling situations where your control comes under question.
For some overweight or obese individuals, losing weight is not on option.
If you suspect this is your case, you may have obesity in the family, which means the way you gain weight is regulated in your genetics.
You may be taking certain medications that exacerbate weight loss. Or you may have mental health issues that cause you to gain weight, leading to further despair.
Bariatric surgery is an excellent option for individuals like you. Bariatric surgery is found to be effective in promoting weight loss and reducing the risk for many health problems.
The gastric sleeve is one body weight loss surgical option.
The gastric sleeve (sleeve gastrectomy) is one of the most common and safest procedures for losing a significant amount of excess body weight.
The minimally invasive procedure is performed using tiny laparoscopic cameras and is recommended for anyone who wants to choose health over obesity to combat many weight-related illnesses.
The gastric balloon is not only minimally invasive, but the procedure is also reversible.
Using a non-toxic balloon-like apparatus that fills your stomach, causing you to eat less, you will find yourself consuming fewer calories, resulting in significant weight loss.
Here is a quick animation video that shows you how the gastric balloon works.
If you are curious about weight loss surgery and want to know more, schedule a confidential video call. You can ask questions and have your concerns alleviated from the comfort of home.
Adopting any new lifestyle habit is all about patience and consistency.
You don’t have to become someone else entirely overnight.
There’s no need to go vegan or cut dairy or make any other drastic changes if you don’t want to. Not at first.
It’s all about gradual changes like doing a few pushups first thing in the morning for a week and seeing how you feel. Then, keep that up and choose to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies for another week.
On week three, switch from potatoes to brown rice. By then, you may feel motivated to take a walk or do some pushups, anything to continue feeling as good as you do, and to continue achieving the results you are.
If you fear that friends or family will mock you or act differently toward you for trying to change your eating or exercise habits, or for switching certain foods for another, you can always cite what you have learned here.
These are not easy conversations to have but sometimes unpleasant conversations are necessary for everyone’s benefit.
If the ones around you care about you and your health, they will not only be okay with your changes, but they may want to join you on your weight loss journey.
Just like the story of the family who recently lost their 24-year-old daughter to COVID-19 and obesity-related illness. The entire clan decided to go on a diet as a message of familial unity.
With 50% of the U.S. population predicted to be overweight or obese by 2030, we could all use healthier habits. You now have five to try starting today when you want to choose health over obesity.
And always remember, if you have questions related to obesity or weight loss surgery, schedule a consultation with Dr. Moeinolmolki of Healthy Life Bariatrics.
See what our loyal patients have to say about compassionate and world-renowned Dr. Moein.
Good luck on your journey and here’s to your better health!