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Seven often overlooked strategies for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight

Posted on Jan. 21, 2021 ( comments)
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Every year, National Healthy Weight Week kicks off during the third week of January to promote healthy eating and wellness as a sustainable lifestyle.

Introduced as an alternative to restrictive dieting, which can lead to poor body image and low self-esteem, National Healthy Weight Week is about learning how to establish a healthy relationship with food, develop constructive, manageable lifestyle habits and feel positively about yourself.  

During weight loss, a positive body image and focus on overall wellness can help you stay motivated, healthy and successful—not to mention happier—over the long term.

With that in mind, we sat down with Carrie Wong, MD, with the MultiCare Center for Weight Loss & Wellness, to discuss some often overlooked holistic strategies for managing weight—which also happen to be excellent ways to observe National Healthy Weight Week.

Focus on what you can control

Not everyone is meant to be skinny. Elements that are outside of one’s control include height, bone density and body type: endomorph, mesomorph or ectomorph, each of which has a different innate balance of muscle and fat. “Normal weight is relative for people, so it’s important to consider all the elements that help you stay healthy overall,” says Dr. Wong.

Reduce stress

This might be easier said than done, and you certainly don’t need to stress out about being stressed out. But the more you can identify and manage internal and external stressors, the more your overall wellness and weight will benefit. “Stress can cause surges in hormones such as cortisol and increase the risk for retaining weight,” says Dr. Wong. Consider leaving a particularly stressful situation if you’re able to, getting help managing it or finding support for a mental health condition like anxiety.”    

Get that extra hour of sleep if you can

Not sleeping well can increase stress, which in turn boosts cortisol levels. “Reasons for poor sleep can vary from poor sleep habits to physical or mental health issues to a nighttime work schedule. Take steps to adjust anything that’s within your control to change,” says Dr. Wong.

Overweight and obese people have an increased chance of developing sleep apnea, in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep due to muscles in the back of the throat relaxing too much. At MultiCare Sleep Medicine, patients can be evaluated for sleep apnea and approved for a CPAP machine (which delivers air pressure through a mask while you sleep), says Dr. Wong.

Review your medications

Certain medications such as birth control, psychiatric medications and insulin can contribute to weight gain. “Talk about your medications with your primary care doctor to determine whether yours might be making it easier to gain weight, and if so, whether there are alternatives,” says Dr. Wong.

Track what you eat

Keeping a food diary can be a highly effective tool in building awareness of daily habits and ultimately losing weight. “By looking at what you’re taking in, you begin to hold yourself more accountable. Some people lose weight when keeping a food diary because they’re more mindful, but also because they’ll avoid eating something, not wanting to have to track it,” says Dr. Wong.

Focus on high-quality food over calories

Restrictive dieting can lead to feelings of scarcity, which can make it hard to stick to the diet long-term and can contribute to poor self-esteem.

In general, reducing calories by 500 per day leads to losing a pound of body weight per week, says Dr. Wong. But overall wellness plays a huge part in whether a person can maintain that pattern.

“It’s also important not to drop below 1,200 calories a day, no matter your weight and height. And you want to be eating whole foods while reducing processed foods even more than focusing on calories themselves. It also helps to reduce carbohydrates and increase protein to lose fat while maintaining muscle mass,” she says.

Find support

“Community support helps us to develop and maintain healthy habits, such as staying mindful and active. People tend to do better when they feel supported in their goals, whether you use a tool like Noom, Weight Watchers, or come to our clinic,” says Dr. Wong.

At the MultiCare Center for Weight Loss & Wellness, patients can take part in effective, evidence-based weight-loss and wellness programs in a compassionate and supportive environment, where providers understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter weight-loss solution.

Learn more about the MultiCare Center for Weight Loss & Wellness.

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