I've never been what one would describe as skinny.
Well, except when a patient called and asked to make an appointment with me.
She described me to the receptionist as, “I don’t know her name, the skinny one.”
I still list this day as one of the best days of my life.
Like many women, I have been fighting my natural tendency to plump up for as long as I can remember. The struggle is real.
Also like most women, with the beacon of the new year, I have tried to set some goals for a healthier lifestyle.
In addition, January is National Healthy Weight Awareness Month, so in the least, we should all make an effort to keep it in check until February.
Here are the top five things you can do to help achieve and maintain a healthy weight:
1. Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI).
Everybody comes in different shapes and sizes, so many people do not know if they are a healthy weight.
Calculating your BMI is the first step.
- If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the underweight range.
- If your BMI is 18.5 to 24.9, it falls within the normal or healthy weight range.
- If your BMI is 25.0 to 29.9, it falls within the overweight range.
- If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the obese range.
2. Stop comparing yourself.
It is almost impossible these days not to find yourself stuck on Lily Aldridge, Gigi Hadid or Candice Swanepoel’s Instagram page, admiring their perfect abs, high and tight butts and svelte legs.
But, you have to remember there is a reason they are supermodels.
Comparing yourself to others often sets up unrealistic goals for yourself, and it also distorts what is right for you.
It is much better to figure out your ideal weight and make that your goal.
3. Stop fad dieting.
Look, you name it, and I've done it.
I've tried the Cabbage Soup, Atkins, Scarsdale, Grapefruit (modification of Scarsdale), Fro Yo Diet, Two Protein Shakes and Chicken Diet and South Beach.
I mean, I've even created my own diet.
I called it the three-bite diet. You can eat whatever you want, but you can only have three bites.
But as a physician, I know this is not the way to maintain a healthy weight in the long run.
Sure, you might drop a few pounds quickly, but when you're doing a fad diet, the pounds usually come back as quickly as they went.
The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn't about short-term dietary changes.
It's about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating, regular physical activity and balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body uses.
I know how tempting the latest "Drop 10 Pounds By Friday" diet may be, but I promise it will never work in the long term.
4. Determine your waist circumference.
That’s right, get out a tape measure and go old school with it.
This is also another way to estimate your potential disease risk.
Excessive abdominal fat may be serious because it places you at greater risk for developing obesity-related conditions, such as Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
Your waistline may be telling you that you have a higher risk of developing obesity-related conditions if you are a non-pregnant woman whose waist circumference is more than 35 inches, or if you're a man whose waist circumference is more than 40 inches.
Unless you just landed on planet Earth, you already know this.
But, it is good to have a healthy reminder.
It is also important to mention because of the long-term benefits of creating a good exercise habit.
Many young people have a fast enough metabolism that they do not have to exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
However, hormonal changes and a slowing of your lifestyle can make it harder to keep off the excess weight as you age.
Therefore, it is very important to start the habit of regular cardiovascular exercise and strength training early.
It's about having healthy habits, both physically and mentally.
Love yourself, and nourish your body the right way.
Follow these tips, and start giving your body the nutrients it needs and the exercise it deserves.
That is truly how we can fight and end obesity not just in the month of January, but all year-round.