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Lose pandemic pounds in a healthy way

September 19, 2021 at 12:00 a.m.

Tiffany Lucas, a local nurse practitioner, is encouraging patients to reverse weight gain they may have experienced over the past year of the pandemic.

"If you have gained weight during the pandemic, know that you are not alone. Although the pandemic isn't over, now is a good time to say good bye to those pandemic pounds and hello to healthy beginnings. It is more important than ever to make sure your body is in tip top shape to fight of disease and illnesses like COVID-19," Lucas said.

A recent study by the University of California at San Francisco confirmed what many of our scales and wardrobes have already shown us – lower activity levels and increased snacking and overeating have added up, and not for the

better. The study found significant increases in weight of roughly a pound and a half gained per month following the shelter in place orders of last spring.

Even before the pandemic, CDC data from 2017-2018 showed that 35% or more of the adults in Arkansas are obese. Overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher; obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.

Extra pounds can increase your risk for many serious diseases and health conditions that are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death. Being overweight can lead to high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, high blood cholesterol, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, many types of cancer and other concerns.

"Healthy weight loss isn't just about a diet or program; it's about establishing an ongoing lifestyle that includes long term positive changes in your eating and exercise habits. Talking to your doctor about a weight loss plan that is right for you is a great first step toward a healthy future" said Lucas.

According to the National Institutes of Health, strategies for weight loss and weight maintenance include dietary changes, physical activity, behavior therapy, pharmacotherapy and surgery. Your primary care physician can help you determine what course of action can support your health objectives.

Healthy Weight Loss Tips:

- Talk to your doctor to establish a weight loss plan that is right for you.

-Hydrate. Drinking water can boost your metabolism, helping burn more calories.

- Find a sustainable diet. Stay away from weight loss trends and choose a diet that is healthy and sustainable. A healthy balance of protein, fruits and veggies are important. Focus on nourishing your body instead of depriving it.

- Exercise. Physical activity is critical when it comes to actually keeping lost weight off. Every minute of physical activity helps. You don't have to go to a gym to exercise.

-Get good sleep. Sleep is highly underrated but it is just as important for your overall health. Individuals with poor sleep have stronger risk factors for obesity.

-Cut out sugary drinks. Studies show that calories from liquid sugar may be the single most fattening aspect of the modern diet.

Tiffany Lucas, APRN is an Adult Medicine Nurse Practitioner at South Arkansas Adult Medicine Clinic. She can be reached at 870-863-2340.

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