In the society we live in, we’re often taught to think that body size and weight are tied to our culture. But while our standards about what is “good” and “bad” are definitely culturally-driven, we often don’t think about one other factor that greatly affects our weight and health: our biology.
Knowing that your biology helps shape your weight is important. It’s common knowledge that excess weight can pose health risks, just like weight-loss can have great health benefits. However, managing your weight isn’t just about controlling your diet and exercise. It involves understanding how your body works, too.
Biology and Other Factors that Affect Weight
We can’t always blame excess weight on personal behaviors. This way of thinking only leads to guilt and shame, which can make weight-loss even harder. The truth is that many other factors can affect weight too:
- Genetics – Genes we inherit through birth and pass down.
- Stress/Mood – Mental health affects sleep, hunger and other processes.
- Medications – Some medications can cause weight gain such as insulin, oral tablets for diabetes, and antidepressants.
- Metabolism – Changes in our metabolism can affect our appetite, energy, and the pace at which we burn calories.
- Environment – Energy-dense and processed foods are not only available almost everywhere, but are also low-cost.
Excess Weight and Your Health
Our culture also has a way of thinking about weight as a matter of appearance. We typically don’t give much thought to health conditions associated with excess weight that can affect quality of life. These include:
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol and blood pressure
- Breathing problems (sleep apnea, asthma)
- Gallbladder disease and gallstones
- Some cancers
Weight has a very significant impact on health. This is also why even modest weight-loss can be beneficial. In fact, losing just 5-10 percent of your total body weight can have a tremendous effect on your overall wellness.
Doing What’s in Your Control
Now you know that you can’t overlook the role of biology in weight control. So what can you do to ensure you set yourself up for long-term success?
- Address Your Mental Health. Take small steps to improve your mind. Meditate, exercise regularly and practice stress management. Make time for self-care and appreciate the good your body has done for you.
- Get Enough Sleep. Strive for at least seven or eight hours each night. Try going to bed earlier or relaxing for at least half an hour beforehand.
- Watch Your Food Intake. Be mindful of what foods you eat regularly and how much. Pay attention to not just calories, but nutritional value too.
- Build Healthy Habits. Don’t just aim for weight-loss that is fast and easy. Put in the hard work to make lifestyle changes that will stick with you forever.
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