A little goes a long way – the five per cent rule

Five per cent may sound easy, and if you work hard, it is!

Make it your goal to lose just five per cent of your total body fat to reap big health rewards.

You may have an ultimate goal of losing 20, 50, or even 100 lbs. And wow, that might seem scary!

But did you know, that the majority of people find the greatest weight loss success when they break their weight loss goals down into small little goals?

They find it helps them to stay motivated and committed. Can you relate?

Many people from this avenue, start off with a strategy to lose five per cent of their total body fat. It doesn’t sound like much, but the impact is often immeasurable.

Why five per cent?

Losing just 10 lbs if you weigh 200 lbs or 15 lbs if you weigh 300 lbs has been shown to greatly improve your health and quality of life. Here’s how.

Heart health. One of the greatest health benefits of achieving even a small amount of weight loss is how it improves the health of your heart and circulatory system.

Weight loss lowers risk of heart disease by decreasing your LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and increasing your HDL (‘good’) cholesterol. Losing five per cent of body fat lowers your triglycerides and risk of stroke and heart attack at the same time.

Extra body weight makes your heart work harder and increases your blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. Lower your blood pressure by approximately five points by losing five per cent of your weight.

Sleep quality. Sleep problems are a common complaint for obese folks. Lose weight and your sleep quality should improve overnight. Better sleep means improved health, more energy and a better mood.

Obesity puts you at a fourfold higher risk of obstructive sleep apnea.

This condition causes lapses in breathing, poor sleep quality and a cascade of other possible health problems. Losing just five per cent of your weight can reduce apnea symptoms. You may even be able to wean yourself off of a CPAP machine altogether.

Cancer risk. Losing weight lowers your risk of certain cancers including colon, breast, liver, ovarian and kidney. That’s because carrying around excess weight increases inflammation (a risk factor for cancer) and production of hormones linked to cancer. Cut your waistline and do the same to your chance for suffering cancer.

Diabetes. Losing five per cent of your body weight helps prevent or control Type 2 diabetes. In fact, by losing weight, someone with pre-diabetes can reduce their risk of developing diabetes by nearly 60 per cent.

So if you make the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes for weight loss, you can actually prevent this dreaded disease.

Someone who already has diabetes can reduce the risk of complications, help maintain proper blood sugar levels, reverse insulin resistance and take fewer medications—all by losing weight.

Joint pain. Carrying around extra weight puts pressure on your joints. On top of that, the inflammation caused by body fat wears down joint tissue.

Walking, standing, bending, or going up and down stairs eventually becomes a painful process. Anyone with knee, hip, or ankle pain can find relief by losing weight.

You’ll also reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis and just be better able to perform activities of daily life.

Inflammation. Chronic inflammation in the body is responsible for increasing your risk of a host of health conditions including heart disease, metabolic syndrome, arthritis and cancer.

Losing a few pounds of extra weight is one of the best ways to reduce inflammation and improve the function of your immune system.

Mood boost. Maybe it’s the healthier diet, exercise-released endorphins, better sleep or improved self-confidence, but a little weight loss goes a long way in boosting your mood.

If you’re tired of feeling blue, irritated, short-tempered, stressed or down in the dumps, shed a few pounds and your quality of life will improve.

Five per cent may sound easy, and if you work hard, it is!

But remember — it doesn’t have to be the end of your weight-loss goals.

In fact, it may just be the start. After five per cent, go for another five. A boost in self-esteem, better management of health concerns and the satisfaction of reaching your goals will help keep you motivated towards reaching those ultimate weight-loss goals. You got this! You know it and I know it!

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and the owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.

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