Dr. Angie Beltsos, Medical Director and CEO of the fantastic Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, talks about the importance of maintaining a healthy BMI and kicking bad dietary habits
With the summer upon us, managing your diet can be tough – with friends and family over for barbecues, picnics in the park, drinks in pub gardens and late night dinners al fresco as the sun sets later and later. The calories sneak up and before you realise it, you have gained weight.
Losing excess weight remains a challenge for many of us, but for those trying to conceive, it can mean the difference between success and failure.
A review of over 33 published studies evaluating the effect of weight and getting pregnant, proved that being overweight can cause fertility problems.
So, this month, I want to discuss the topic of the importance of maintaining a healthy BMI and offer you some practical ways to get you into tip top shape.
The best way to look at weight is by measuring your body mass index (BMI). This is done by examining your height to weight ratio. Divide your weight in kilos by your height and then square it. For example, Weight (kilos) divided by Height( in m) and then squared. This will give you an overall score. Alternatively, you could use a BMI Calculator
A safe range for your BMI is between 20 and 25, anything below that range is considered underweight and anyone over that is considered overweight or obese.
According to the latest U.S government tracking of obesity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics found that more than two thirds of US adults are overweight (BMI greater than 25) and of those, 36.5% of US adults fall in the obese category (BMI greater than 30).
According to an article in the Journal of American Medical Association, approximately half of the overweight and obese patients are trying to lose weight… But it is not always so easy, especially for women who have a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder and is associated with elevated BMI. Avoiding refined carbs and switching to whole foods, like brown rice, oatmeal, legumes, fruits, and vegetables is really going to help. Women with PCOS need protein and fibre and very little carbohydrate to regulate blood sugar levels.
If your BMI is greater than it should be, act now to make changes to your diet and lifestyle. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and partake in regular mild exercise, such as walking, yoga and pilates. Going from being overweight to having a normal BMI can reduce the miscarriage rate by 13% and increase the chance of baby by whole 10%! This is a huge jump in the chance of success!
So, as we move in to a fresh new month, watch out for the following problems that can lead to weight gain and and keep your BMI in check.
The Problem: Calorie Amnesia
As described by Dr. Melina Jampolis in a CNN article entitled ‘Why am I not losing weight. Dr Melina explains that the total calories consumed can be confused and forgotten as we slip in a little extra snack here and there during the day.
The Solution: Keep a food journal on an app. Research shows that by watching and tracking our food intake, the chance of losing weight can double!
The Problem: Weekend vacation from dieting
You worked so hard to not eat poorly from Monday through to Thursday, but come the end of the week, the joy of Friday’s Happy Hour and weekend parties, there is suddenly a real increase in food and drink. All of the hard work you put in for 4 days a week can get crushed with 3 days of less careful choices. According to the National Weight Control Registry, those who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for over 1 year have maintained their diet throughout the whole seven days of the week.
The Solution: One treat per weekend. Enjoy the weekend by giving yourself a treat on Saturday. Have a cocktail but not dessert. Or, have the pasta but no bread. Once Monday hits, go back to your routine.
The Problem: Not moving after a meal
After we eat our body could use a little work-out. Weight gain gets harder to fight when we eat then rest.
The Fix: Walk after dinner. Leave the dishes behind and take a quick jaunt around the block with a good pace. Getting your heart rate up will help you metabolize your dinner. So grab your partner and get out there for a nice evening stroll.
The Problem: Forgetting to drink water
Dehydration is a common problem for us as we often do not drink enough water that our body craves. When losing weight this can be even more of a concern. Drinking beverages like coffee and alcohol add fuel to the fire as they actually dehydrate the body even more.
The Fix: Hydrate! Make sure that for every coffee or cocktail, you chase it with a nice cold glass of water. Sometimes adding a flavor to the water can add some fun to this incredible part of your diet. Cut up some lime and lemon wedges, placing them in a plastic bag for easy use. Herbs like mint, basil or rosemary mixed with fruits like apple, orange or pineapple can make it even more enticing. Try to double the water you drink today since we tend to not drink enough.
The Problem: Going at it alone
We are often more likely to do something new if we have someone to share in the experience. Behavior modification experts have studied this for years. But we know this to be true many times in our life. Change is never easy and removing some of the temptations takes courage.
The fix: Find a partner in crime. If your spouse or partner is willing, have them join the party of trying to have a healthier diet and exercise routine. Challenge and encourage each other to be compliant to the plan. It really helps!
So best of luck on your weight loss endeavors. But if you are not finding success, consider seeing a doctor or consultant who specializes in weight loss to help you.
It will help your fertility by making it more likely to achieve pregnancy, less chance of miscarriage and better chance of healthy pregnancy and baby.