Wondering whether you’re at a “healthy” weight these days? Allow me to drop some knowledge: Unless you’re experiencing health issues directly related to the number on the scale, you do not need to lose weight, k?
More facts: Some of us naturally weigh more, some naturally weigh less, and neither body type is less valid. Yes, excess weight is associated with many health conditions, but being overweight isn’t a solid measure of health. Plus, weight loss alone won’t make you healthier.
So to get the whole picture of your health, you also have to look at factors, like how you’re feeling, whether you’re eating a balanced diet, and how your annual checkup with your physician goes, explains Loneke Blackman Carr, PhD, RD, assistant professor of community and public health nutrition at the University of Connecticut. As long as you’re happy with those aspects of your overall wellness, you should be all good.
That said, having a higher weight for your frame can make your heart have to work harder, putting stress on your arteries and joints, says Dr. Blackman Carr. Carrying around excess body fat can cause inflammation too, adds Myo Nwe, MD, an internal medicine specialist based in South Carolina. Over time, internal inflammation can cause side effects which include chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
So uh, how can you tell whether you’re at risk for developing health issues because of your weight? The best and, quite frankly, the easiest way is to make an appointment with your primary care doc or a registered dietitian nutritionist if you’re feeling concerned, Dr. Blackman Carr says. They’ll help you assess your eating and exercise habits to see if there’s anything you could change up. And since any new eating or exercise habits should be approved by a doctor or registered dietitian anyway, getting a professional opinion is a pretty important step.
Here, seven other things that might indicate it’s time to book a doctor’s appointment for the sake of your health.
It’s painful to get from point A to point B.
If it hurts to do daily activities like walking to your car or climbing stairs, that could be a sign that excess weight is taking a toll on your joints, says Wendy Leonard, RDN, founder of Rhode Island Nutrition Therapy. When that’s the case, losing some weight can help to relieve some of the pressure on your joints, which will reduce pain. Yay!
Your snoring could wake the dead, and you always wake up groggy.
Heads up: If your BF says you snore like crazy and you feel like you rarely get a good night’s sleep, you might have sleep apnea. Basically, it’s a condition in which irregular breathing disrupts your sleep.
When your body stores fat around your neck, it can narrow your airway and cause shallow or paused breathing. If this sounds like you, definitely talk to your doctor so you can get diagnosed and start discussing treatment.
Your doctor says you have high blood pressure.
If you have a high BMI, losing just five pounds could help lower your blood pressure since your cardiovascular system doesn’t have to work as hard to supply your body with oxygen, says Leonard.
Things like changing your diet and increasing your physical activity, which typically go hand-in-hand with healthy weight loss, can also help lower your blood pressure in the long run—regardless of whether you continue to actually lose weight or not, adds Dr. Blackman Carr.
Your doctor says you have high cholesterol.
Again, it’s not necessarily the weight loss itself that helps, but rather the habits that go along with it, like incorporating more nutrients into your diet and working out more often.
Exercise and diet changes can lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol in your body, which reduces your risk of developing heart problems, Leonard explains.
You’re pre-diabetic or have Type 2 diabetes.
Here’s another case where you’re gonna have to consult your doc, but if you’re experiencing extreme thirst or have to pee on the reg and you’ve had a high BMI for a couple of years, it could mean you have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes (meaning you’re at risk for developing the condition). Not all doctors will mention whether you’re prediabetic, so don’t be afraid to ask, says Dr. Blackman Carr.
Good news: It’s possible to reverse both of these conditions by losing some weight. When you have excess fat on your body it can impact your organs, like the pancreas. And the pancreas is responsible for storing and releasing insulin, the hormone that controls the body’s blood glucose levels. So when you get rid of that excess fat, your pancreas can work better and is more able to control your blood glucose levels, which may = no more diabetes, Leonard says. But if you gain the weight back, there’s a good chance you’ll develop the condition again, she continues.
You’ve gained a significant amount of weight every year for, like, forever.
Gaining a bit of weight as we age is totally normal, but if you’re putting on five to 10 pounds every year, that’s going to add up over time, says Dr. Blackman Carr. The cumulative effect could lead to some of the sh*tty side effects above. Talk to your doctor to try and get to the bottom of why this might be happening.
You have a family history of colorectal or breast cancer.
According to Dr. Blackman Carr, both colorectal and post-menopausal breast cancer have been linked to obesity, so experts recommend eating a quality diet, and getting enough physical activity to lower your risk of getting both. Also, excess fat can produce excess estrogen, which is linked to breast cancer, and other kinds of hormones that may promote tumor growth, according to the National Cancer Institute.
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