Overcoming obesity, what has worked for me
By Dr T.W Ngwenya Changamire
In our previous articles on the Sunday Express we have spoken about how Diabetes affects our bodies, prevalence of Diabetes in our communities and how Obesity is the main driver of Diabetes.
Not only does Obesity increase your risk of developing Diabetes but it also increases your risk of developing high blood pressure, strokes, heart disease and some cancers.
I hope that this information will help you to identify the multiple factors that may hamper your weight loss journey.
In our article last week, we explained that while genetics may predispose one to obesity the drivers of obesity are; urbanisation, marketing, unhealthy lifestyle habits, inactivity and mental health disorders.
What has worked for me?
Hopefully these steps will help you to achieve your weight loss goals as much as they have worked for me. It has been a journey that began about 17 months ago and I am still working on losing the weight. Be patient and watch yourself “melt.”
Know your why.
I have always been overweight from childhood right through to adulthood. The weight worsened and reached its peak after giving birth. I even became comfortable at some point with my weight, but the problem with weight is that it continues to creep up on you until you feel uncomfortable in your own body.
As a medical doctor I understood fully the consequences of being overweight but because I had not yet developed any chronic conditions I didn’t see the urgency to lose weight until C0vid-19.
As a front line worker, early on in the pandemic in 2020 I started to notice that it was overweight and obese individuals that would end up with severe C0vid-19 disease and unfortunately we lost some.
Through the second wave and even more so during this third wave we have seen that there is a strong association between severe C0vid-19 disease, obesity and Diabetes.
It became apparent to me that being overweight is just not healthy! In these uncertain times we should all try to achieve health and control our chronic disease to prevent premature deaths. I would like to be there for my family.
This was my “WHY”. This keeps me going
Gather as much information on the right foods to eat and prepare healthy meal plans that you can afford. Food choices should be easily adaptable.
Understand your food, know the carbohydrate content in the foods you’ve chosen to eat. Pat attention to the amount of total carbohydrates you are ingesting a day.
Make it a new habit to read the food labels. You will be alarmed the amount of “hidden sugars” in foods that we routinely eat on a daily basis.
Create a grocery shopping list of foods you will eat. Remember you don’t have to break your bank account to lose weight! Substitute refined foods with wholegrain foods, carbonated sweetened drinks with soda water, sparkling water or unsweetened drinks.
Start slowly and ease into the lifestyle change. What I mean by starting slowly is changing your food choices per meal gradually. For instance, if all your meals contained refined starch, remove refined carbohydrates at dinner for instance and substitute with wholegrain carbohydrates.
Gradually you will then remove refined carbs from your lunch and ultimately from your breakfast meal. Also adjust your snacking habits and food choices, gradually moving away from junk food to healthy wholegrain foods, fruits and vegetables.
Introduce exercise gradually. On my previous weight loss attempts I would start both dieting and exercise at the same time. I would quickly get burnt out and get demoralised by how much I had done but didn’t see results.
By my personal experience, I am now a firm believer that losing weight is 80% food choices, and 20% exercise.
I now exercise to keep fit but not to lose weight, I lost a lot of kilograms before I introduced exercise into my lifestyle. Also from previous weight loss attempts I realised that I would hit a plateau during the weight loss journey although being consistent with my diet but at some point I would stop losing the weight.
This is where exercise helped. So this time around I said to myself I will lose the weight by adjusting my eating habits and then I would introduce exercise when I hit the plateau and continue to exercise to maintain fitness.
Find someone who will walk with you through this journey. A person that is non-judgemental but instead will be able to motivate you when you are about to give, because these times will definitely creep up on you. I have a group of ladies who have kept me going. We motivate each other.
Set reasonable targets and avoid weighing in frequently. Weight fluctuates during the day, sometimes you will find that you haven’t lost weight at all although you have been diligent over the past weeks.
Frequent weigh-in will only lead to demotivation. Try to weigh in bi-monthly and also use other methods to track your weight loss like measuring inches or choosing a certain piece of clothing that didn’t fit well and see how well it begins to fit as you go.
Treat yourself: reward yourself each time you get to your target or each time you have managed to be consistent with your eating and exercise routine.
Yes, you will have moments when your body craves for those hot chips or burger, give in, but not too often, instead treat yourself once a week or on weekends and quickly get back to your new eating habit.
Before you know a year has gone by and it has become your lifestyle and not a quick fix diet.
Know your body: know what works for you, which type of foods hamper your weight loss, how much exercise you need to do to achieve weight loss, how to switch up your eating strategies once you hit a plateau, there isn’t a one way fixed strategy in losing weight. Pay attention to your body and switch it up when the need arises!
Know what has made you fail previously: Chances are quite high that you have tried multiple diets, some have been effective but you just did not manage to keep the weight off. Identify the reasons you failed, what contributed to not following through with the lifestyle change then devise ways in which to tackle these issues.
This is where factors like ease of access to junk food come in, are you constantly succumbing to alcohol and food ads on TV or media, lack of knowledge on what the right foods are, improper planning, no one to be accountable to or are you currently not in the right state of mind.
Pay attention to your mental health. Your food habits and lifestyle habits may be related to you having a mental disorder. Go in for mental health screening if unsure.
Remember Obesity is reversible, reversing obesity controls chronic diseases and also reduces your risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, heart attacks, strokes and certain cancers! Let’s walk this journey together.
Contact All In 4 Health – By Dr TW Ngwenya Changamire – for General Medical Consultation, health screening, medical check-up, health education and promotion. The Glen Marais Shopping Centre, 57 Veld Street, Glen Marais, Kempton park 1619
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