Monday, October 12, 2009

The Unexpected Benefits of Weight Loss

Six surprising perks of dropping pounds You already know the big perks: Compared with their overweight peers, thin people tend to have more energy, lower blood pressure, less joint pain, healthier hearts and saucier sex lives. But losing weight will also yield plenty of pleasantly surprising side effects that you may not have thought of, for example: You may finish crossword puzzles faster, and lose your car keys less. Normal-weight folks perform better than overweight ones on cognitive tests, according to a study in the journal Neurology. Researchers found that rotund adults lagged in tests of memory, attention and learning—and may be more at risk for dementia in old age. You may get a better night's sleep. Sleep apnea, a disorder typically caused by an obstructed airway, is often weight-related, experts say. And, according to Michael Twery, PhD, director of the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, research studies indicate that weight loss is associated with a reduction in the severity of mild to moderate sleep apnea. Apparently, more fat around the neck means more obstruction while sleeping. Lose the fat and you're able to breathe better. A bonus for men: Some findings suggest that the benefits of weight loss may be greater for them than for women. Your basketball game might soar. "Anything that involves relative strength will improve," says Charles Staley, BSc, MSS, a coach and trainer based in Gilbert, Arizona, who has appeared on The Today Show and The CBS Early Show. "I had a client touch the rim once for the first time after losing 60 pounds. All the added weight made him really strong, and when he lost it, he suddenly had 60 less pounds to propel skyward." Your food is likely to taste better. Why? Because weight loss usually involves becoming a more mindful eater; i.e., learning to savor the flavor. "And with that comes a better appreciation for your food, and not using food as a coping strategy," says Rene Zweig, PhD, director of the Eating Disorders and Weight Management Program at the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy in New York City. You'll probably think less about dinner. "A lot of people associate dieting with constantly thinking about food," says Zweig. "But once they've actually lost the weight, people find that food takes up a lot less of their mental energy." The Best Part of These Gains Oftentimes, they're self-perpetuating. "A lot of these unexpected benefits are cyclical, and feed into one another," explains Zweig. "As people lose weight and become more confident and more connected socially, they're often likely to try new activities, which, again, makes them more connected, more engaged and better able to cope with stress." Which, of course, reinforces your new healthy lifestyle. Article courtesy of Weight Watchers

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