Your Weight & Your Heart: A Love Story

Every New Year, and it’s the same promise to ourselves. Lose weight. Eat Healthier. Exercise. And even though most of us will fail to follow through on this resolution (just 8%, according to one finding, achieve their New Year’s Resolution), that failure is not because we don’t want to be healthier. More often, life just gets in the way.

Even with life’s challenges it’s important for us to find ways to help out our heart. Our weight can be an important indicator of our risk level for heart problems. More specifically, where that weight is can elevate risks for heart problems.

Location counts

For one, a thicker waistline increases the risk for heart attack according to doctors from New York University. Stomach fat is linked to high blood sugar, increased blood pressure and higher levels of triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood).

The reason why belly fat is more dangerous for your heart is because it is closer to your internal organs. This can also be the hardest kind of fat to lose, so working with your care provider to create an eating and exercise plan can be particularly important.

Stress can lead to weight gain

Tension, or stress, might play a role in your waistline. The stress hormone, Cortisol, can increase belly fat. It can narrow your blood vessels which can raise your blood pressure trying to boost the flow of blood. If you are frequently stressed, this process can lead to blood vessel damage and a buildup of plaque.

It can also cause weight gain. The process draws fat from storage and sends it to your belly, which can cause inflammation leading to heart problems.

But what can you really do about stress? Every Sunday article this month is dedicated to reducing stress, so check back on Sunday for a helpful tip.

I want to lose weight. Now what?

There is no one size fits all approach to losing weight and reducing your waistline. It starts with truly deciding that you want to make a change. You may want to consult your doctor for recommendations or assistance in putting together a plan. Here are a few helpful tips:

Cut the sugar. Sugar isn’t just what you add to your coffee, but it’s in a lot of the things we eat and drink from alcohol to microwave dinners.

Healthy fruits. Some fruits are better than others. Go for strawberries or blueberries over bananas and grapes (which have more sugar).

Choose whole wheat. Avoid white bread and white rice, and opt instead for whole wheat.

Think of it as a marathon. Avoid the two week fat shedding diets, and opt instead for a long term, and more sustainable plan. A Mediterranean style of eating has been shown to be both heart healthy and low in sugar. Read more about the Mediterranean diet.

Always talk to your primary care provider about your heart health, nutrition, exercise, and weight loss plan. If you need to find a primary care provider, use our online Find a Doctor tool.

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