You can’t play catch with your child because you get too
winded. You wake up in the middle of the night choking due to sleep apnea. You
want to be able to shop for clothes in mainstream stores. There are hundreds of
reasons to lose weight. Even so, whether due to fear of failure or simple
comfort, many people don’t even try. So, when is it time to step out of denial
and lose weight for good?
Being diagnosed with a weight-related medical condition
such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol offers a more
persuasive argument for losing weight now. In general, the heavier you are, the
more likely you are to experience health problems. Your risk increases even
further with a family history of certain chronic conditions like diabetes, or
if you tend to gain weight around your abdomen. According to Intermountain Clinics, “apple” shapes are
naturally more predisposed to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes than “pear”
shapes, carrying weight in the hips and rear end.
Your doctor can often provide the initial motivation for
weight loss. Whether it comes through a frightening diagnosis or the
possibility of one down the road, many people leave the doctor’s office with a
commitment to lose weight.
Lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes and
cardiovascular disease are completely preventable. When your doctor tells you
these diseases are life threatening unless you make a change, it can be a real
Even a modest weight loss can dramatically decrease your
risk of disease. The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health reported that each
kilogram (2.2 pounds) of weight lost annually over a period of 10 years was
linked with a 33 percent lower risk of diabetes. Similar findings have been
reported when looking at weight loss and a reduced risk of heart disease.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, in addition to diabetes
and heart disease, weight loss can decrease the symptoms of arthritis. It can
even reduce the risk of several types of cancer, including breast cancer, when
weight loss occurs after menopause.
If disease prevention and a
longer life aren’t reasons enough, many people first attempt weight loss for
personal reasons. These too can provide significant motivation. However, if a
special event or short-term goal is your motivation, you will want to ensure
you also have long-term goals to help ensure you keep the weight off and
maintain the benefits of a healthier weight. Personal motivations can include:
- lack of energy
- low self-esteem
- poor body image
- upcoming special events
- feeling uncomfortable in your own skin or your tight clothing
- desire to physically keep up with your children
- desire to look and feel more attractive
Whatever your motivation, your success will hinge on how
ready you are to commit to the
challenge. You’ll know you’re ready when you can answer “yes” to all of the
- I am ready to make a lifelong commitment to eating
healthy foods and exercising on most days of the week.
- I have set a realistic weight-loss goal and understand
that when it comes to successful, long-term weight loss, slow and steady (one
to two pounds per week) wins the race.
- I have addressed the underlying emotional issues behind
why I overeat.
- I don’t suffer from anorexia or bulimia.
- I have identified the distractions in my life that
threaten to derail my efforts (my career, my interpersonal relationships, and
my finances) and have developed ways to deal with them.
- I have built a solid support system, including friends
and family members, a therapist or nutritionist, a nearby weight-loss center,
or an online group.
- I recognize that plateaus happen, and I am committed to
working through them.
Losing weight requires commitment and dedication — not
just to dropping a few pounds, but to making lasting lifestyle changes. Your
motivations should be solid, not fleeting. Sure, your jeans will fit better,
but improved confidence and better health are reasons that will propel you
further in your weight-loss journey.