According to the American Obesity Association, episodes of musculoskeletal pain, and specifically back pain, are prevalent among the nearly one-third of Americans who are classified as obese. People with obesity-related pain represent are part of a national epidemic that includes 100 million Americans suffering from chronic pain and 150 million Americans who are overweight or obese. How can people lose weight quickly and safely so that they can live a pain free and healthy life? The top ten ways to ditch excess weight to become pain free include:
1. Avoid Processed Foods – “My top tip for safe weight management, which leads to pain relief, is to eat whole foods, not processed foods,” says Barbara Searles, a holistic pain relief coach and author of “Kick Pain in the Kitchen: Holistic Pain Relief You Can Eat,” who turned to nutrition and the lowest dose possible of medication (no NSAIDs, prednisone or biologics) and Salonpas, an OTC topical analgesic line of products, to overcome the pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
“I eat primarily whole, non-processed, home cooked foods. I initially minimized wheat and am now completely gluten free,” says Searles. “Many of the ingredients in processed foods such as gluten and MSG are known to contribute to pain and inflammation. Switching foods that are sold in boxes and bags for foods cooked from the whole ingredient will give someone a big boost in weight loss. I recommend that my clients focus on vegetables and lean proteins instead of pizza and burgers.”
2. Drink Water for Weight Loss – “Drinking a lot of water to help initiate weight loss is important,” says Natalia Lukina, Founder and CEO of Vital Formulas, a line of natural multivitamins. “Water is a great cleanser and sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger so drinking more water may make one feel less hungry. It’s best to regain your own natural feeling for thirst to learn how much water you should drink daily. To do that, first stop drinking sodas, alcohol and any artificial drinks and keep a bottle of pure water by your side. Try to drink a lot throughout the day. After several days to a week, you should start getting a natural feeling of how much you need to drink each day.”
3. Eliminate Sweetened Beverages – “Sweetened beverages including soda and tea contain empty calories with little to no nutritional value,” says Leigh Tracy, RD, LDN, a dietitian at Baltimore’s Center for Endocrinology at Mercy Medical Center. “Many children and adults add 400 calories to their daily diet from drinks alone.” While a typical orange has about 80 or 90 calories, a 12-ounce glass of orange juice contains 180 calories making it much healthier to eat the whole fruit – a better source of fiber and nutrients – than drink the juice.
4. Don’t Turn Happy Hour into the Witching Hour – A typical 12-ounce Margarita packs in about 540 calories, a 6-ounce Piña Colada is about 600 calories and a 7-ounce Long Island Iced Tea may have nearly 800 calories. Treat yourself on the weekends and stick to a single glass of wine, light beer, or vodka and soda which each have about 100 calories per serving.
5. A Calorie is Still a Calorie – Whether the diet plan is from Atkins, Weight Watchers, South Beach or Paleo, a calorie is still a calorie and reducing the number consumed pays dividends on lowering the number on the scale. “Eating fewer calories each day helps with weight loss,” says Tracy. “Monitor portions and incorporate lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables.”
“It is best to eliminate simple carbohydrates to control hunger,” advises Lukina. “Eat real food prepared from scratch mindfully and slowly. When one eats slowly, one always eats less and feels satisfied for longer.”
6. Set a Date for Weight Loss – If you have 10 or more pounds to lose, using a weight loss target date calculator, such as from Fitwatch, provides an estimate of how long it will take to reach a weight loss goal by assessing height, weight, age calorie deficits, activity level and the number of pounds to be lost. This calculator assigns a daily calorie goal and a target date to reach one’s weight loss goal.
7. Keep a (Food) Dairy – By keeping a daily record of everything you eat, you are able to track patterns and ascertain what meals and snacks are satisfying and also waist friendly. You can even ditch the paper diary and keep an online diary for free at sites like MyFitnessPal.com and FitDay.com.
8. Exert Yourself – While most doctors and nutritionists agree that weight loss can occur by diet alone, regular daily exercise can help prevent excess weight gain and maintain weight loss. “Regular exercise, at least 150 minutes each week is recommended,” says Tracy.
“Exercise improves your pain threshold,” says Dave Endres, a licensed Physical Therapist and co-founder of SPEAR Physical Therapy in New York. “With continual cardiovascular, strengthening, and flexibility exercises, you can improve that pain threshold.”
“No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or ‘good,’ cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides,” reports the Mayo Clinic. “This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, and certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.” Regular exercise also promotes better sleep, improves mood and boosts energy.
9. Don’t Forget Fiber – Most doctors and nutritionists recommend that women get at least 25 grams daily of fiber while men need about 38 grams. Besides keeping you ‘regular’ and feeling satiated, fiber helps lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease and stroke. Fiber-rich foods include fruits and vegetables, bran cereals and whole grains including popcorn, brown rice, whole wheat spaghetti and oats.
10. Measurement Matters – While some doctors recommend daily or weekly weigh-ins, others prefer weekly measurements as better for morale. Increasing exercise and altering eating habits to promote weight loss can mean a transformation in your body composition. You may gain muscle while simultaneously losing fat. As a result, your size may drop faster than your pounds. Paying attention to the loss of inches can help to keep dieters motivated and encouraged when losing weight. Use an inexpensive tape measure for weekly circumference measurements at the waist, hip, arm and mid-thigh.