For every extra pound you carry, there are at least 10 reasons why you should lose it. Excess weight can lead to heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, urinary incontinence, menstrual problems, gallstones, cancer—not to mention worsening your quality of life!
But losing weight is easier said than done. Many severely overweight people find themselves facing two options: the conventional route of diet and exercise or weight-loss surgery.
Losing weight involves making a real commitment to drastic lifestyle changes. Changing your eating habits will mean consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and calcium-rich foods like fat-free milk. You’ll need to limit saturated fats and sodium. Exercise is essential, and you’ll want to get at least 60 to 90 minutes of moderate activity a day to spur weight loss.
The good news: Experts agree that diet and exercise are the best ways to peel off pounds and keep them off.
The bad news: Admittedly, losing weight this way can be frustrating. The recommended loss of one to two pounds a week can seem like a drop in the bucket without fast results. But remember: Losing one pound a week translates to 52 pounds in a year!
Surgery may sound like a quick fix, but it carries risks. However, potential or existing health problems caused by obesity may outweigh those risks. If you have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above (100 pounds overweight for men, about 80 for women) or you have a BMI of 35 to 39.9 and weight-related health problems, you may be a candidate for weight-loss, or bariatric, surgery.
Bariatric surgery helps you lose weight by restricting the amount of food you can comfortably consume. Gastric bypass, the most common surgery option, also limits calorie absorption by surgically bypassing sections of your small intestine.
The good news: Weight comes off fast, with most people losing at least 50 percent to 60 percent of their excess weight within the first two years after surgery. Obesity-related conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea can be improved or resolved.
The bad news: There’s a chance of postoperative infection, blood clots and other surgical complications, some life threatening. You’ll still have to adopt drastic lifestyle changes, particularly when it comes to your eating habits, and adjust to severely limited quantities of food. After some surgeries, you may not be able to have a drink with your meal because your stomach can’t hold both food and liquid. Eating too much or too fast may cause vomiting or intense pain.
Traditional weight loss or surgery? Each option is a major undertaking, but remember that no matter what route you choose, you’re working toward a worthy goal: a healthier you.