A self-care approach to common health conditions with Dr. Stephen Ayosanmi

In this column: a self0-care approach to weight management
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Dr. Stephen Ayosanmi, a family physician at the Wells Gray Medical Clinic in Clearwater, offers educational information on self-care and preventative care. (Photo submitted by: WGMC)

Dr. Stephen Ayosanmi

Hello, I’m Dr. Stephen Ayosanmi, a family physician in Clearwater. As a physician, I believe that we can have good health when we choose to be intentional with how we take care of ourselves. Therefore, I will use this column to expand on some self-care approaches to common health conditions. The advice provided in this column is not about medical prescriptions or holistic practices. They can be found online, but I have chosen to write them out for easy access to readers.

Self-care refers to the actions individuals take to maintain their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It encompasses a broad range of activities, from basic daily tasks like eating nutritiously and getting enough sleep to more intentional practices like exercise, meditation, hobbies, and seeking therapy or counseling when needed.

Essentially, self-care is about prioritizing your own needs and taking proactive steps to nurture your overall health and happiness. It’s not just about indulgence or relaxation; it’s about creating habits and routines that support your long-term well-being. In simple terms, I see self-care as what you do to care for yourself.

In this issue, I will discuss the self-care approach to weight management. Our body weight is usually measured with a weighing scale, which has a metric unit of kilograms (kg) or pounds (lbs). In Canada, we use the Standard International Unit (SI unit), and the SI unit for weight is the kg.

Weight measurement could mostly be categorized into four areas: low weight, normal weight, overweight, and obesity. However, the category you belong to depends on your height. To objectively categorize our weight, we mostly use the body mass index (BMI) and/or weight circumference. BMI is widely used in clinics, and to categorize individual weights using the BMI, we use the following numbers as cut-offs:

- Low weight (underweight): BMI < 18.5kg/m²

- Normal BMI: 18.5 – 24.9 kg/m²

- Overweight BMI: 25 – 29.9 kg/m²

- Obesity BMI: > 30 kg/m²

Since you now know the BMI, you can test yourself and see if you can estimate your weight level. Technology can make it easy for you to estimate your BMI by inputting your weight and height into a BMI mobile app on your smartphone or web browser.

Now, let us look at some self-care tips to help manage our weight:

1. Balanced Diet: Start by changing your eating habits. A balanced diet is vital to weight loss. Include a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products in your diet. Avoid high-calorie, less nutritious foods and watch your portion sizes. Follow the Canada Food Guide as provided on the website of Health Canada.

2. Exercise: Regular physical activity is crucial for weight management. Incorporate both aerobic activities and strength training into your weekly routine. Activities could range from walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling to lifting weights, yoga, or pilates.

3. Hydration: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can aid digestion, keep you feeling full, and reduce overeating. At least two litres of fluid in a day is recommended.

4. Adequate Sleep: Lack of sleep can interfere with your body’s ability to metabolize food, leading to weight gain. Make sure to get adequate sleep (seven to nine hours) each night.

5. Stress Management: Stress can trigger emotional eating and cravings. Develop a toolbox of stress relief techniques that work for you, whether that means taking walks outdoors, practising meditation or yoga, reading, or having a relaxing bath.

6. Regular Check-ups: Frequent medical check-ups can help monitor your progress and health concerns related to obesity. It can also help you prevent the complications resulting from excess weight.

7. Mindful Eating: Pay attention to what you’re eating and savour each bite. If possible, avoid distractions like TV or work while eating. Listening to your body’s hunger and satiety cues can help you maintain a healthier relationship with food.

8. Support System: Seeking support from family, friends, or joining a support group can help immensely. They can keep you motivated, help you stay accountable, and make the journey easier and enjoyable.

9. Positive Self-Talk: Maintain a positive attitude towards your body and weight loss journey. Negative self-talk or being overly critical can hamper your progress.

10. Consistency: Remember, losing weight and keeping it off requires consistent efforts. There will be challenges and setbacks, but staying committed to your health goals is key.

Please consult your health care provider for a personalized plan that considers your overall health, lifestyle, and preferences. Always consult a health care provider before starting a new exercise or diet regimen.

If you have any question about today’s topic or want to suggest a medical condition you would like to know more about in this column, send an email to [email protected].

Dr. Stephen Ayosanmi is a family physician at the Wells Gray Medical Clinic in Clearwater. Along with his wife and four children, he enjoys living in the North Thompson Valley. His major was in preventative medicine and self care.