Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Being overweight is a major health problem in the United States, and there are many good reasons to keep your weight within a healthy range. You will feel bet- ter, look better, and have more energy than men who are overweight. Having more energy makes you more likely to exercise, which can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more restfully. But the most important reason to keep your weight within a healthy range is that you will lower your risk for certain chronic diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. Doctors no longer believe that it is acceptable to gain a few pounds as you age. Maintaining your weight at a reasonable level throughout your life is key when it comes to reducing your risk for disease.
Many overweight men have difﬁculty reaching their healthy body weight, and the more you weigh above your ideal weight, the harder it can be to lose the extra pounds. It is encouraging to learn, then, that losing even a relatively small amount of weight can reduce your chances of developing heart disease or stroke. For example, reducing your weight by just 10 percent can improve the efﬁciency of your heart, lower your blood pressure, and reduce the level of cholesterol in your blood. In fact, you can increase your overall health by losing as few as 10 to 20 pounds.
Slow and steady weight loss of no more than 2 pounds per week is the safest way to lose weight. Too rapid a weight loss can cause you to lose muscle mass rather than fat tissue and also can increase your chances of developing other health problems, such as gallstones, gout, and nutrient deﬁciencies. Making long-term improvements in your diet combined with exercising more is the best way to lose weight and keep it off.
When trying to lose or maintain weight, look at your eating habits and try to improve them. Follow the eating guidelines recommended in the Food Guide Pyramid (see page 5) for the best dietary advice. Physical activity is also essen- tial to weight control. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day; start exercising slowly, and gradually increase the intensity of your workout.
If you are not currently overweight, but if weight problems appear to run in your family, you still need to watch your weight. Men who have close family members, such as grandparents, parents, and siblings, with weight-related health problems such as diabetes are more likely to develop similar health problems. If you are not sure of your risks of developing a weight-related health problem, talk to your doctor.
Although most men with a weight problem are those who struggle to lose extra pounds, a small percent- age of men are actually underweight for their height. Men tend to diet for different reasons than women—to improve athletic performance, for example—and some men develop eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia (see page 71), from extreme dieting, although these conditions are much less common in men than in women.
Keeping your weight within a healthy range over the years requires self-control and a commitment to your health. If you are already over- weight, work with your doctor to develop a safe and effective weight- loss plan that can help you keep your weight down over the long term. If you are underweight, your doctor can help you plan a diet that will allow you to gain weight sensibly.
Watch Your Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most beneﬁcial, although most difﬁcult, things you can do.A healthy weight not only boosts your conﬁdence, but also minimizes your risk for major disorders such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.