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Common Sense Weight Loss by Don Luensmann

With every new year comes a desire to improve. Typically, New Year’s resolutions fall into three categories – lose weight and get fit; fix my finances; or create better relationships. None of these resolutions are easily kept. In many instances, resolutions are abandoned in the first few days of the new year for various reasons – it’s too hard; my habits are too ingrained to change; there is a lack of support from family and friends; and the list goes on.

While I can’t provide any guidance on changing your financial habits (see a banker or accountant) or  creating and maintaining good relationships (see a life coach or mental health professional), there are a few tips I can offer on weight loss.

Recent research shows more than 30% of all Crawford County residents are considered obese. Obesity leads to all sorts of medical problems including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, just to name a few. Overweight is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or higher. Obesity is a BMI of 30 or higher. At 6 feet tall and 220 pounds, my BMI calculated out at 29.8. That was a wake-up call.

I’ve spent the past year seeking out weight management strategies and guidance from my primary medical provider at CCMH. Mayo Clinic says: “The truth behind weight loss lies not in quick fixes but in well-informed, sustainable lifestyle choices that promote your overall health and well-being.” I have found this to be accurate.

Rather than chasing diet trends and fads, creating good habits for eating is the beginning to losing weight. Calories play a large part in whether we gain or lose weight. The simple equation is calories cannot exceed what your body needs.  Again, Mayo Clinic is right: “Weight loss comes down to burning more calories than are taken in from food. Cutting calories from food and drink and burning more calories by moving more are ways to do that.”

That might seem simple. But it can be hard to find a weight-loss plan that works for you.

Here’s where your primary medical provider comes into the picture. About a year ago, I realized I needed to start taking better care of myself if I wanted to have good health into my retirement years. There are a fair amount of health problems that run in my family. My dad died of cancer, my mom developed Alzheimer’s, I have four family members with diabetes, and those are all things I would prefer not to be afflicted with.

So, I get my annual wellness screenings. I have my blood sugar levels checked regularly. I take my blood pressure fairly often. And yet, at that point, I knew being overweight was the real issue.

Then I talked to a primary care medical provider at CCMH to devise some weight loss strategies for myself. My goal was to lose 30 pounds in a year. I tried to set a goal that didn’t seem out of reach but at the same time was challenging.

I came to realize my weight issues stemmed from my problems with portion control and eating between meals. Here are the strategies I used to lose combat those issues:

  • I downloaded an app onto my phone that allows me to log all of my meals and snacks every day. What it showed me is I had a problem with too large of portions, too many desserts with my meals, and too many snacks throughout the day. As I began logging my food, I started to make changes to my meals, how much I ate, and when I was eating. I lowered my caffeine intake and drank more water. This helped me limit my calorie intake and get it under control. Which brings me to the second part of the plan:
  • I also do 12-hour intermittent fasting. I eat between 7 am and 7 pm each day. I do not eat before 7 am nor after 7 pm. That 12-hour fast allows me to better digest my food and get a more restful night’s sleep. Which lead me to the third part of my plan:
  • Moving my body more often during the day helps keep me on track. Exercise, especially walking, has been a great way to help lose weight and improve my mental outlook.

Had I tried trends and fad diets in the past? Yes. While I would lose weight for a few months, the minute the diet ended I would put the weight right back. Sometimes, I weighed more after the diet than before I began.

Has my weight loss strategy paid off? I’ve lost 25 pounds over the past year and my goal for 30 pounds is in sight. I weigh less than 200 pounds for the first time in almost 40 years and feel better that I have in a while. While my BMI is still in the overweight range at 26.3, my mental health is good (if I can vouch for myself), my clothes fit better, I have more energy, and I look forward to each day.

Am I perfect? Nope! I still have the aches and pains of getting older and I don’t move as well as I did 20 years ago. But that wasn’t my goal. I can’t turn back the clock, but I can slow it down by taking better care of myself, especially when it comes to my weight.

Having said all that, let’s also pay attention to what Mayo Clinic says: “For people who have serious health problems linked to weight, talk to your doctor about the possible benefits and risks.” I would definitely recommend seeing your primary care medical provider about any weight loss strategies you want to pursue and what is best for your age and current health status.

Don’t forget the bottom line: The key to losing weight and keeping it off is changing diet and exercise habits for the long haul. I wish it was easier but it’s not. Anything worth having takes effort and patience whether its losing weight, fixing your finances, or having better relationships.

Best wishes to you for being able to keep your New Year’s resolutions in 2024!

(Don Luensmann is the Executive Director of Marketing and Development for CCMH)

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