How to Lose Weight if You Have Back Problems

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One to two pounds per week is a healthy rate of weight loss.
One to two pounds per week is a healthy rate of weight loss. (Image: scale image by jedphoto from Fotolia.com)

Having back problems can make the exercise aspect of weight loss more difficult, but certainly not impossible. Losing weight can even help alleviate back problems, because obesity often contributes to symptoms of disorders like degenerative disk disease, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Individuals with back issues will need to forgo certain types of exercise, but aside from that, the process of attaining a healthy body weight is very much the same as it is for anyone else.

Talk to your primary care physician before beginning any weight-loss regimen. The doctor will be able to help you determine a target weight and give you tips on how to lose weight in the healthiest way possible. You will also want to follow up with him periodically to track your progress and make sure that you’re on the right track.

Make a conscious effort to keep more nutritious foods in the house and prepare them in healthier ways, such as baking or broiling instead of frying. Another relatively effortless way to reduce the calories you’re eating every day is to replace snacks like potato chips with lighter alternatives such as pretzels or air-popped popcorn.

Begin keeping a food diary to track what you’re eating. Write down what you eat and what time you eat it, along with what you were feeling at the time and what you think you can do to improve. Keeping this diary over a period of time will help you to identify any “eating triggers” you may have, such as eating more when dining with a group or snacking when you’re stressed or upset. Being mindful of these types of triggers can help you overcome them.

Participate in low-impact exercise that won’t exacerbate your back pain, such as walking, bicycling and swimming. Stretches and strength training exercises are also often recommended for back pain patients. Start with approximately 15 minutes of exercise per day and gradually raise the amount to 30 minutes as you begin to lose weight and your endurance increases.

Continue your new healthy habits even after reaching your target weight. Many people reach their goal and then stop exercising, only to end up gaining back all of the weight they worked so hard to lose. Weight control is often a lifelong struggle, but it is possible to maintain your results if you remain vigilant and make a conscious effort to live a healthy life.

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