If you celebrate a holiday at this time of year, you know that it can be challenging to eat in moderation! When family gets together, there’s such an emphasis around great food and coming together to enjoy it all.

It might look like cookies and baked sweets, your favorite cheesy casserole dishes, and many other comfort foods we don’t normally eat in such quantities during other times of the year.

And for many of us, that can result in weight gain. But fortunately, you don’t have to choose the either-or of this situation. Our primary care providers can help with weight management at all times of the year—even during the holiday season.

Why is it important to stay at a healthy weight? 

The human body’s functions, capabilities, and even its skeleton were made with certain parameters. Just like you need sleep to restore your body every night to function at its peak levels, maintaining a healthy weight is also necessary to feel your best.

Maintaining a healthy weight for you is important for a few reasons:

1. Energy levels

When there’s excess weight on the body, it can cost you more energy just to move and go about your average life. The body has to carry, manipulate, and manage the weight of simple tasks like going up and down stairs, walking, cooking, and even carrying backpacks and other items from room to room.

Simply put, you have less energy when carrying excess weight, and this doesn’t touch on the other challenges that can further contribute to exhaustion, like comorbidities for obesity.

2. Comorbidities for obesity

Being overweight and obese comes with more than just the weight itself. It can negatively impact the body by making one more susceptible to certain diseases and illnesses.

These are common comorbidities for obesity that can impact your quality (and length of, in some cases) life:

  • Diabetes
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Hypertension
  • Other Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cancer
  • Depression

This is not an exhaustive list, either. When one is overweight, it can snowball into many other health conditions that make life challenging.

3. Mental well being

Extra weight can dampen a person’s mental health in many ways. Among a common one is societal pressure to look a certain way. Here, we believe the only way a person should look is healthy, but that’s easier said than done.

This, of course, is widely known, but there are other ways in which carrying extra weight can be a mental health challenge.

Due to the reduction in energy, we find we can do fewer of the activities that bring us joy. Even an extra hobby, on top of a job and caring for children can empty your energy tank when one’s overweight or obese. The less you do what you enjoy, the less you have to look forward too, and your avenues of joy are greatly diminished.

Don’t underestimate how much your passions and interests can bring happiness to your everyday life. 

How do you know when a patient would benefit from weight management?

We’ll always take a comprehensive approach to weight management. That means we’ll take some blood samples, like during your annual check-up, and take a look at what your levels look like.

If anything seems to be of concern, we’ll focus on possible causes, and weight management may be among them.

Typically, however, we see many patients who come in to seek treatment for a number of conditions and weight management is the obvious solution due to the great impact it has on a person’s well being, both mentally and physically.

Those who suffer from a few or many of the comorbidities for obesity listed above are all candidates who will benefit from weight management.

weight management lifestyle changes

What are some lifestyle changes that can help with weight management?

The very first lifestyle change that has to come is a mental one. There are habits that can be altered and changed for healthier habits, and we’ll cover those below, but the first thing anyone has to do is recognize and accept that this is a change that has to be made for one’s overall wellbeing.

Many weight management challenges can stem from other hardships in a person’s life. Sometimes, a person can have struggled with their weight for their whole life and there can be a lot of insecurity, uncertainty, and just a lack of knowledge for following through with it.

The first hurdle is the one where one recognizes that they are worth caring for their body.

Outside of a mental change, here are other lifestyle changes that go a long way for weight management:

  • Daily walking and movement: The human body was made to move. You don’t need to be running marathons in order to move your body, though. Even walking outside for 20 minutes once or twice a day is a great way to kickstart the healthy habit of moving. The fresh air and sun is also always a benefit. 
  • Eat real food most of the time: Real, unprocessed or minimally processed food will always hold the most nutrients. Filling your body of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy fats through meat and dairy, are all great ways to eat a filling and balanced diet. Of course, special treats and snacks are always okay when the majority of your food is real and nutrient-dense.
  • Consistent daily sleep and wake times: Sleep does more for your body and regulating your metabolism than many think. Creating a strong circadian rhythm is important for quality sleep, which can impact cravings, the food you choose to eat, and energy levels throughout the day.
  • Keep stress reduced: While not always up to us, stress can make weight management hard both due to cortisol’s role in the body as well as eating and food being a comfort to many when they’re stressed. Finding outlets for stress, like exercise, a hobby you love, time outside, laughing, and anything specific to you will help a lot.

Of course, if none of these are currently in your lifestyle, you’ll want to begin slowly and add to them. Nobody can be expected to completely change their life overnight, and this is also why our primary care providers are here to steer you in the right direction with where to begin with these healthy habits.

What are some medications that can help?

You should only resort to medication if your primary care provider has deemed it necessary and was a part in choosing and prescribing the medication. That said, some people benefit from certain medications to aid in their weight management journey.

These are some of the medications proven to help:

  • Xenical
  • Qsymia
  • Contrave
  • Saxenda
  • Wegovy

It is worth noting that medications will always have a higher success rate when paired with other healthy habits designed to manage weight loss, and not as the only method.

The most important part of weight management is having someone in your corner to help guide and support you over time, because it’s not a short-term process. Layering healthy habits alongside the advice of your primary care provider is the best way to start!

Click here to schedule an appointment so we can work together on creating a healthier you!

Dr. Bertie Bregman
Dr. Bertie Bregman
Full Stack Family Medicine is a newsletter about what it’s really like to practice medicine and run a medical practice in New York City.
This blog will be a mix of stories, advice and discussion – topics will diverge widely, but they will all share a point of view!