How to Be Successful in Weight Loss

Friday, August 8, 2008 - 3:11pm

By Megan Porter, RD/LD

Understanding the reasons why your doctor recommends weight loss to manage your diabetes may help you in becoming more motivated to do something about it.

Improved Health with Weight Loss

Some of the reasons you may benefit from weight loss include the following:
- Lowered blood sugar levels, especially if your blood sugars are higher than the recommended ranges.
- A decrease in blood pressure, or lowering of your blood pressure medication.
- A decrease in or discontinuation of insulin or diabetes medication.
- A decrease of insulin resistance within the cells.
- Lesser hip, knee, and other joint pain.
- Ease of daily tasks, such as walking, or getting dressed.
- More energy throughout your day.

Am I Really Overweight?

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Media emphasizing “healthy weight” usually links good health to a narrow range of body weights and stresses health with slenderness. But you do not have to become slender to have better control over your type 2 diabetes and thus reap the benefits of being healthier.

The good news is that a loss of 5-7% from your body weight may diminish health risks associated with excess weight, including type 2 diabetes. According to The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), overweight and obesity increase the risk of morbidity from hypertension, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gall bladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, as well as endometrial, breast, prostate and colon cancers.


Today, health care providers use a measure called BMI, short for Body Mass Index. That gives them a good measure of your total body fat. Your BMI compares your height and weight, and it gives you a good indication of whether you are underweight, at a healthy weight, or overweight. Check out what your BMI is by using the BMI calculator here at The Diet Channel. Keep in mind that overweight is defined as a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9 kg/m2 and obesity as a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or higher.

Measuring Your Waist Circumference

Just being overweight may not jeopardize your health. But carrying the extra weight around your middle can. If you are an apple shape, it puts you at greater risk of uncontrolled type 2 diabetes and heart disease. By measuring your waist circumference you can distinguish whether you carry your weight around your middle (an apple-shaped body), or around your hips (a pear-shaped body).

Take a tape measure (a flexible one is best) and place it snugly (not tight) around your waist about two inches up from your navel. Compare the length around your waist to the numbers below. If the length of your waist is the same, or bigger than the numbers below, you have too much weight around your middle and your diabetes and overall health would benefit from a loss of weight.

Why Try if I’m Still Considered “Overweight” Even if I Lose 5-7%?

After you lose 5-7% of your initial weight, you may still be considered overweight or obese, but you still gain health. Every day, you are encouraged by a "thin obsessed" society, to set unrealistically low weight goals. While appearance may be an important motivator for you to lose weight, a goal of achieving a healthier weight and lifestyle leaves you in better health.

What you need to keep in mind is that by losing 5-7% of your initial body weight, you can improve your management of type 2 diabetes. And it also sets the stage for further weight loss because it is achievable and is realistic. Also, moderate weight losses can be easier to maintain over time. Besides, maintaining a moderate weight loss, over many years, is far healthier than regaining weight after a significant amount of weight loss.

One Dietary Change Is All It Takes

It could be foregoing that cream in your coffee or tea, or switching from regular to diet cola, or using skim milk instead of whole milk. Whatever dietary change you make is up to you. By making one change to decrease your daily intake of calories, you can lose weight. And these small changes, over the years, can add up to a significant weight loss of 10, 20, or even 30 pounds!

Here are some ideas that can get you thinking about what changes you can make to your daily diet to cut out 150 calories every day:

Forgo the mayo and add spicy mustard instead.
If you usually buy a latte, next time order a non-fat latte and order the smallest size.
Forgo the fries and add a salad with low-fat dressing.
Have vegetables instead of chips.

These are just some ideas to get you thinking. Consider what foods you eat on a regular basis. What small changes, like those mentioned, would work for you?

You may find out that all you need to do is decrease the portion size of what you eat. Eating half a sandwich and ½ cup carrot sticks is far less calories (and carbohydrates) than a whole sandwich with chips. Substituting high calorie foods for lower calorie ones also works. Foods like salad dressings, cream cheese, sour cream, soda, and yogurt all have lower calorie substitutes.

*This article is intended for general information purposes only, is not individual-specific, nor is it intended to replace the advice of your healthcare team.