Alternatives to weight loss surgery may include lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, and possibly weight-loss medication.
Losing excess weight can boost your health in many ways. But you may not need surgery to do this. Many benefits can be achieved by losing just 5% of your body weight. These include reducing your:
- risk of diabetes
- risk of heart disease
- risk of cancer
- blood pressure
- triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood).
Other benefits of modest weight loss include:
- improving your body’s sensitivity to insulin (improving blood glucose control)
- if you’re overweight and have knee osteoarthritis, losing just 5kg can help slow disease progression
- for people with type 2 diabetes, a low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet actually reverses the condition in 15% of people after 1 year.
How to lose weight
Weight loss sounds simple: You need to consume less energy (in the form of food and drinks) than you use. In practice, this can be difficult as your body fights to keep the weight on. There are lots of diet myths out there that can be quite confusing. Also, it’s quite common to react to emotional stress in your life by eating and drinking more than you planned to.
To lose weight you need to:
- eat the right amounts of healthy foods
- be more physically active
- build muscle – muscles burn more energy than fat
- make lifestyle changes that you can stick to so you can maintain your weight loss.
Talk to your GP before beginning a weight loss program, especially if you have health problems or you’re taking medication. Other medical professionals who can help you include dietitians, physiotherapists, exercise physiologists and psychologists.
Weight loss programs can help too, and you may be able to claim for this on your health insurance, depending on your type and level of cover.
Choose healthier foods
Eating the right amount of healthy food is essential. Fad diets that cause rapid weight loss aren’t sustainable in the long term, so you’re likely to regain weight afterwards.
Talk to your doctor or a dietitian for advice on reducing weight gradually and permanently. Only make the changes you can live with and incorporate into your lifestyle.
Be more physically active
Regular physical activity is an important part of any weight loss program. It can also enhance your mood and cognition, strengthen your heart and muscles, improve your balance and boost self esteem. Another benefit is increased endorphins — your body’s natural painkillers.
Physcial activity can be challenging if you’re not used to it. Try to fit in 30 minutes of moderately intense activity most days of the week. If 30 minutes sounds like a lot, you can start with 3 lots of 10 minutes.
Try and find an activity you enjoy, and that doesn’t overtax your joints.
Water aerobics is popular amongst dieters and is easy on the joints. If you’re unsure about it, try watching a class first to see if it looks right for you.
If you enjoy walking, try and find someone to walk with, to make it more interesting. Or maybe walk someone’s dog for them. It may help to walk with a goal in mind: going to the café, park or shops. You could also join a walking group.
Mall walking is another popular activity. Some shopping malls have groups that meet and walk circuits in the early morning. It’s a great way to exercise comfortably and get social support.
Join a gym. People of all shapes, sizes and ages work out in gyms. Most gyms have personal trainers who can design an effective program for you and encourage you if your motivation lags.
You may be able to claim for exercise and gym programs through your health insurance if you have extras cover. Your doctor will need to approve and sign off on the program.
If your BMI is over 28, and you have diabetes, cardiovascular disease or osteoarthritis in your hips or knees, you may be able to claim for the Healthy Weight For Life program through HCF hospital cover. This 18-week program includes a healthy eating plan (including meal replacements) and an easy-to-follow activity plan. Find out if you're eligible