Lately, all across the different TV channels, radio programs, podcasts from organizations and individuals, there has been a push towards getting people to love themselves. This effort should be commended in many ways as it helps people come to terms with the situations they are, potentially avoiding issues such as anxiety, depression and even suicides.

The downsides of this push is it does not filter what should be accepted and what shouldn’t. One of the reasons this is a problem is it has emboldened people who have excessive body weight to be comfortable with what they have.

It is true that there are people who no matter what they eat, will rarely put on weight. With others, a simple whiff of that chocolate pudding and it goes right to the hips. Yes, genetics does play a big part in the ease of weight gain, and even getting to keep that weight. 

While it is commendable that you should learn to live with yourself the way you are, there should be limits to this. The biggest one, of course, is weight gain. Weight gain beyond certain points can be injurious to your health in very many ways. Not only can it lead to reduced enjoyment of life, but also to death.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. For you to understand why you need to join a weight loss program, we should first take a deep dive into weight gain and what it can do to your body.

What is weight gain?

You may have been at 120 pounds for a good number of years. You were limber and could run a marathon at a moment’s notice. Then as the days went by, you started noticing that you’re filling out your clothes more than you did. Well, that was some development. You smiled and carried on. Life is good.

Soon enough, your favourite piece of clothing suddenly couldn’t fit you. Putting it on made you look like you’re about to burst the seams. You also notice parts of your body have become larger and jigglier, or even firm.

There are two types of weight gain:

  1. Healthy weight gain: This is as a result of your hard work in the gym. All the healthy foods you may have been taking, your supplements and your strength training have combined to increase your muscle mass. Yes, the muscle mass may have increased your dressing size, but it was for the betterment of your health.
  2. Unhealthy weight gain: This is what happens when fat accumulates in your body. This is because excess energy in your body will be stored as a form of reserve. This is defined as an increase in adipose tissue, more than what is considered to be healthy for your body.

This second form of weight gain is the main focus of this article. This type of weight gain when left unchecked, can lead to a variety of issues, which we will take an in-depth look into later. Let’s take a look at the things that cause this form of weight gain.

Unintentional weight gain

Yes, these do happen. These mostly happen when you haven’t made any changes to your intake of food or liquids, and your activity levels have remained the same all through the changes in weight. These happen even when gaining weight was nowhere near your agenda.

These include:

  • Pregnancy: This should be the obvious reason why. As the baby grows, so does the weight of the mother increase. This weight gain is also a result of the growth of the placenta, blood supply, amniotic fluid as well as a growing uterus. Also, mothers-to-be tend to eat more to support the growth of the baby.
  • Menopause: This comes about as a result of physiological changes that a woman undergoes as she hits the ages of 45 to 55. This is as a result of the diminishing levels of the hormone estrogen in the body. This hormone is responsible for inducing menstruation in women among others. This period is characterized by increased weight around the hips and abdomen.
  • Medications: Some medications have been known to cause the patient to gain weight unintentionally as a side effect. These are medications used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure, seizures, depression, anxiety and other psychiatric conditions. Birth control pills are also notoriously famous for this.
  • Fluid retention: This is medically known as edema. This is when certain parts of your body retain water, thus causing a bloated or swollen look. The most common areas for this to happen are the hands, feet, face and sometimes the abdomen. This is most common in people experiencing heart failure, some forms of liver disease and kidney disease. This is also common in women around menstruation. They may experience temporary weight gain as a result of fluid retention. This often subsides after the menstruation period is over, but it may be a cycle that happens every menstruation period.  
  • Quitting smoking: It’s a common trope that smokers are usually stick thin. That trope may hold water as it is common for quitters to gain weight. Experts believe that this is as a result of the freeing up of appetite that was previously suppressed by nicotine.
  • Insomnia: Lack of sleep is terrible for your health in many ways. Insomnia is well known for messing with other innate patterns such as eating and moods, therefore people end up overeating.
  • Genetics: How your DNA is coded will determine how well your body deals with the food you give to it. For some, metabolism and how food will be stored in the body will be determined by genetics, and you find there are people who gain weight at the sight of that cream covered piece of cake. 

Personal choices

These are the most common causes of weight gain, with some of the leading to more serious conditions such as obesity. Obesity itself is cumbersome to deal with, and you haven’t even started with the myriad of health risks associated.

These of course have been spoken about for years, and are probably being spoken about in some TV program as you’re reading this. These of course includes the lifestyle changes such as dietary changes, binging on fast foods, addiction to these fast foods and other confectionaries, leading a sedentary lifestyle, 

All these reasons will lead to a condition known as obesity. To understand obesity, we first have to understand what the body mass index is. This is simply the correlation between an individual’s height and their weight. This is not an exact measurement of the total fat that a person has, but just an indicator.

The World Health Organization has several categories on this. People who have a BMI of less than 18.5 are considered to be underweight. Those between 18.6 to 24.9 are considered to be healthy. Those from 25 to 29.9 are overweight and those above 30 are considered to be obese. 

Diseases brought on by obesity

Obesity by itself is cumbersome to deal with. Apart from affecting how you look and how you operate, it also places serious strain on internal organs of your body. The excess fat causes serious changes in regards to metabolism and how your hormones work. Aside from this, it also puts you at risk of developing certain diseases.

Now, a disclaimer. It is not always that obese people will develop these diseases. However, there is an increased risk of these diseases developing.

Type 2 diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic condition. Your body needs energy to function as it should. This energy comes in the form of sugars, or glucose to be precise. Your pancreas creates a hormone known as insulin. This hormone is responsible for transporting glucose from your blood stream into your cells, thereby giving them the energy they need. 

With Type 2 diabetes, your cells aren’t able to respond to insulin as they should. This means your cells don’t get the energy they need. In the more serious cases, your body may also start struggling to produce insulin. The net result of this is that there will be a lot of sugar in the blood stream with nowhere to go. 

This is a gateway to more serious conditions such as failure of the kidneys, pancreas, liver and even the heart. 

High Blood Pressure

The increased weight is stored in your body in the form of fat. Now this fat is actually living tissue known as adipose tissue, and they also require sustenance from blood. This increasing weight from the adipose tissues will force the heart to work harder in order to get blood to it. 

As the heart works harder to pump more blood, there is increased pressure from the force of the heart pumping. This increased pressure is a problem as it starts to affect your arteries and your veins.  Over time, this can cause problems for your heart, and even increase the likelihood of developing heart failure.

Now, although it is possible for people to develop high blood pressure without increased body weight, the likelihood of one developing it is higher with increased body weight.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is more common in people with increased body weight. These are people who have a body mass index of 30 or higher. Now as the adipose tissues increase in the body, they will get deposited around the waist, neck and other areas. However, they will also start accumulating in blood vessels.

This accumulation will cause the arteries to become narrower. This has the effect of causing increased resistance to pressure from the heart pumping. Hypertension or high blood pressure will begin. As it continues, the arteries will start getting damaged. This narrowing of arteries is the largest contributor to cases of heart attacks.

The accumulation of blood sugars, cholesterol and high blood pressure begin to mount, they start affecting the heart, leading to heart disease.

Stroke

A stroke can occur without warning and have very serious effects on the person affected. The only way to stop a stroke it to prevent it from happening in the first place. A stroke happens when the brain stops receiving blood. This could be due to a blockage in the supply of blood, or a blood vessel that ruptured and bled out.

The blockages is the same as that of hypertension, and heart disease. Fat deposits and blood clots cause the blood vessels to narrow or even rupture. 

The brain is very sensitive and cells start dying out within minutes of blood flow stopping. This can result in a number of challenges such as speech impairment, physical challenges, weakened muscles and cognitive impairments. 

A study published in the AHA Journals from a sample size of two million respondents found that there is a 64 percent likelihood of a stroke occurring in 64 percent of people living with obesity.

Complications During Pregnancy

A study published by the JAMA Network has found that women who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater could be at risk of developing one or more types of pregnancy related complications. This is why women who re overweight are advised to join a weight management program for them to reduce the risks that can arise as they carry the baby to term.

Some of these complications include:

  • Gestational diabetes.
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Premature births.
  • Miscarriages.
  • Birth through cesarean section.
  • Brain and spinal defects.
  • Stillbirths.
  • Blood clots.
  • Heavier bleeding during childbirth.

Sleep Apnea

This is also known as obstructive sleep apnea. People with this condition will stop breathing momentarily as they sleep. This is entirely involuntary and it can happen several times during periods of sleep. During normal breathing, the air flows through the nose into the trachea and into the lungs, unobstructed. With sleep apnea, the normal flow is interrupted as the throat is too narrow and can sometimes be completely closed off momentarily.

Sleep apnea is the cause of snoring as one sleeps. This is caused by air swiftly squeezing through a narrowed airway. Sleep apnea is a gateway to other more serious conditions such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Liver disease

This is another of those complications from obesity that develop without any indication or symptoms whatsoever. As the adipose tissues grow, they will start growing in and around the liver. This will result in the growth of scar tissues in the same way as a person suffering from cirrhosis. This is described as fatty liver disease, or Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH).

The only way to stop this disease from progressing or even managing it is to reduce weight and avoid consumption of alcoholic drinks.  If not checked, this disease can lead to liver failure.

Gall Bladder Disease

The gall bladder has a crucial job in your digestive system. It is responsible for storing a substance known as bile… no, not the feeling. This bile is important as it helps break down food in the small intestines allowing absorption into the blood stream.

Increased fatty tissues will also affect the connection from the bile to the intestines known as the bile duct. This block will usually result in the bile stagnating and hardening with time. This hardened bile is what is known as gall stones and they are very painful to pass and can sometimes require surgery to solve the problem. The fat can also cause the gall bladder to enlarge, which also causes the formation of gall stones.

To prevent the formation of gall stones, you will need a change in diet.   It’s time to avoid refined foods and start snacking on foods high in dietary fibers. 

Why you should join a weight loss program

Lugging around excess weight can be a chore in itself. Not only is it a hindrance to you daily activities, it is also puts you at risk of developing serious complications as we’ve seen above. 

What should you know before joining a weight loss program?

You may be psyched up, either from goals you have set for yourself, or from frustrations about the excess weight and you want to do something about. You are now taking concrete steps into joining a weight loss program and want to cut down to a size you can feel hip in. You may want to jump on the next weight loss bandwagon that comes along. However, you need to look at several factors before committing yourself and your resources into it.

  • The staff: Who are they? Are they qualified professionals or people who just took this on as a hobby? Does it include dieticians, doctors or physiotherapists? Are they registered with their respective boards or organizations?
  • The goals: In general, you should choose a program that calls for a steady weight loss goal, maybe two pounds a week. You can also set yourself a higher goal if you want to lose weight faster. 
  • Completion rate: There’s no use getting yourself into a program only to flunk out a few weeks later. Before joining a program, look at the history. How many people have successfully completed the program? That should give you a clue about the effectiveness of the program. You should also look at the average weight loss of the people who go through the program. If the average rate is in line with what you want to do, that may work for you. If it is higher, then you can challenge yourself to meet the rate and lose more weight than you had initially planned for.
  • Maintenance: Losing weight is one part of the challenge. The other part is keeping that weight away. Does the weight loss program you’re looking at have a maintenance program to help you maintain your desired body weight?
  • Cost: This probably should have been the first on this list but maybe it has more impact as the last. Losing weight isn’t just a matter of running and burning your way out of it. It’s also a matter of changing your diet and routines, taking supplements among other requirements. What is the total cost of the program? If you break it down, is it within your reach?

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into the reasons why you should join a weight loss program.

Support is crucial

Losing weight isn’t just a matter of waking up and changing your birthday suit into something that suits how you esteem yourself. It’s a journey, a long one. Just from the length of time it will take to achieve your desired weight, it will be littered with pitfalls, discouragement and enticements meant to knock you off the path you’re on. This is especially true on those days when you just are stressed and you start discouraging yourself.

Having a community helps in very many ways, some that you can’t even put into words. These are people that have been through what you’re going through, and they will be glad to help you through this arduous stretch of the journey. This is not all, by opening up on your challenges, you get to encourage someone else who may be undergoing the same but chose to remain silent.

Advice is crucial

Everyone gets to a point where they are stuck and don’t know the way forward. Even presidents have advisors to help them deal with certain situations that they face and it’s worked so far; earth is not a nuclear wasteland. In the very same way, a weight loss program, apart from just giving you a community of people to help you in the difficult times, can also help you when you feel stuck and don’t know the way forward.

This group of people can provide you with excellent advice of varying degrees of success. How you implement them is up to you and the goals you want to achieve.

Resources are crucial

Taking a weight loss journey by yourself is akin to re-inventing the wheel. Instead of going through the tiresome, both mentally and physically, process of trying to find the right resources to help you in your fight against weight, simply lean on the weight loss program you will join.

To begin with, the people themselves are a resource. They can then point you to other resources that you can take a look into and implement into your individualized program.