You probably already know that carrying extra weight can cause a variety of health problems.
"Obesity can result in hypertension, diabetes, enlargement of the liver with fat, and," says Michelle Eslami, MD, a geriatrician at UCLA Health System. "Obesity can be responsible for coronary artery disease too. It can also cause social isolation as getting out and about may be hard for obese individuals."
But one thing that you may not think about is that obesity can cause you physical pain. "Obesity may result in joint pain especially in the lower back, hips, and knees, as extra weight can put strain on these joints," Dr. Eslami says.
Weight loss and exercise play a huge role in the reduction of chronic pain. The good news is that research has shown that losing weight and exercising can significantly reduce your risk of chronic pain.
According to study findings, the more people exercise, the less likely they are to experience chronic pain. In addition, obesity was directly linked to pain, but exercising for one or more hours per week compensated, to some extent, for the adverse effect of a high body mass index (BMI) on chronic pain risk.
Getting started. Weight loss plus exercise remains the best way to reduce pain. Randomized studies suggest that as little as a five pound weight loss can have a huge impact on chronic pain.
While it's easy to tell pain patients to exercise more, starting an exercise program can be difficult. The problem is that people who are hurting have trouble moving, and if you have trouble moving, it can be difficult to lose weight and begin an exercise program. Start out by losing weight through diet and making lifestyle changes, as well as building core and back strength.
"Weight loss with calorie restriction, exercise (such as recumbent bike), or swimming to reduce the overall stress and strain on the joints can help ease the pain caused by obesity," Dr. Eslami notes.
Pain patients who are looking to lose weight can try joining a commercial weight loss program, such as Weight Watchers, which often provides counseling. People will often find that they are making simple mistakes that, when corrected, can accelerate weight loss efforts. Getting professional help can lead to dramatic weight loss and, if you can lose weight, you'll start to feel better.
If you are obese, it's important to consult someone who will work with you to design the treatment program that is best for you. You can successfully lose weight, and keep it off, with lifestyle changes, but doing it on your own is difficult. A health care professional who specializes in weight loss can help you determine what strategies will be most effective.
"Diet" doesn't have to be a four letter word. The first thing to remember is that no single diet is right for everybody. Try different approaches and don't give up. As anyone who has been on a diet can tell you, weight loss does not occur overnight, and a successful diet requires that you stick to your plan even though you may not be seeing immediate results. Make small goals for yourself. Instead of aiming for big goals, like 30 pounds, plan to lose just five at a time.
Another helpful suggestion is to eat protein for breakfast. This is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. It helps to fill you up early and prevent overindulging later in the day. Try an egg-white omelet, yogurt, or cottage cheese for breakfast rather than toast or cereal.
A third tip is to start your meals with vegetables or salad. Eat these at the beginning so that you fill up on the "good stuff." This can help prevent you from overeating the less-healthy, more fattening foods.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
The US. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these tips for weight loss:
* Substitute fruits and vegetables for higher-calorie foods.
* Eat high-fiber foods such as whole grains to help you feel full.
* Prepare and eat most meals at home.
* Switch to healthier foods, such as skim milk instead of whole milk.
* Eat only when you are hungry.