Baranof Park

DREW HERMAN/Kodiak Daily Mirror

Regular exercise helps improve sleep, reduce stress and maintain healthy weight. Start out with low-impact walking or home calisthenics.

Spring has finally come to Kodiak. Not only is the emerald green color sprouting up everywhere, but the clutter we have been living with all winter is calling out to be organized and cleaned. It’s time to get out those summer clothes and put away the sweaters and electric blankets.

Many of us may notice some extra pounds in the mirror that we would like to get rid of. Losing only 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can result in significant health benefits, like lower blood pressure, less acid reflux, better sleep and lower blood sugars. Here are some practical ways to lose weight and stay healthy.

Some would say the key to weight loss is all about calories in versus energy spent. The fewer calories you eat and the more calories you burn, the more you lose weight. This statement is true. However, I do not think it is as effective for sustained weight loss as modification of our habits.

Many other factors play into weight gain, especially stress and the stress hormones that get released by our bodies. These stress hormones can cause weight gain, stomach ulcers, mood and memory changes, insomnia, acne, increased susceptibility to infection, increased blood sugar, and increased blood pressure and heart rate.

Getting enough sleep is the first change that can help with weight loss and general health. Adults should get over seven hours of sleep nightly. Not getting enough sleep can result in heart problems, mood changes, memory problems, obesity and decreased quality of life.

The next step is to make a routine which you can follow every day. Going to bed and waking up at the same time helps you feel more rested. Eating the same foods for breakfast and lunch can help you eat less, because you can eat that same food again tomorrow.

Exercising for 30 minutes daily will help boost your metabolism and help you sleep better and deal with stress. Try to start with low-impact exercise like walking or home calisthenics rather than high-impact exercise like running or heavy lifting to avoid stress fractures or other injuries.

Diet changes are always difficult at first. Many diets exist which promise weight loss, and many are effective if you can stick with them. I find that balanced diet approaches are helpful, with carbohydrates, fats and proteins at each meal, and avoidance of high sugar content foods such as soda, alcohol, juice and fast food. Caffeine can cause stress hormone release, so use in small quantities. Supplementing your diet with a multivitamin can be helpful for weight loss, especially if you do not get enough calcium or vitamin D in your diet. Try to eat more fiber (we need 35 grams a day) and drink at least 64 ounces of water a day.

Other medical conditions can make weight loss difficult, such as low thyroid or hormone imbalances. Be sure to check with your doctor if you are unable to lose weight. There are medications which can be prescribed to assist in weight loss, but side effects can be serious. Lifestyle changes are still necessary for weight loss, with medications as an adjunct as needed. Generally, prescription drugs for weight loss are not recommended unless your body mass index is more than 30 kilograms per square meter.

Weight loss is an ongoing challenge, and once you lose weight, it is important to continue the good habits you adopted in order to keep the weight off. Be encouraged that your efforts are worthwhile, and if you fall off the wagon, just get right back on. Look to others for encouragement, and ask for help.

“In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13).

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