Chris Freytag by Chris Freytag

Sometimes weight gain can happen slowly and you are too busy to notice. Or, you just don’t want to think about it right now. Maybe you’ve got so much going on that you tell yourself you will eat healthy tomorrow or start exercising next month. And then it happens: You wake up one day and you barely recognize your reflection in the mirror.To remove any guesswork, we’ve rounded up the ten symptoms and signs you need to lose weight.

You just know. You probably know right now whether or not you need to lose weight. We often have the answers—we just have to be willing to tell ourselves the truth. Yes, it can be tough to admit you’ve gained weight, but taking stock of where you are today and deciding to start losing weight can alleviate a lot of stress and mental baggage you didn’t even know you were carrying around.

You find exercise challenging. If you don’t want to head to the gym because you are self-conscious about your extra weight, or you find exercising outdoors too difficult because of your weight, these are signs that it’s time to lose weight. If you are heavy, exercise can sometimes be viewed as an obstacle instead of a fix. Whatever obstacle you are facing—obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of flexibility, lack of cardiovascular fitness or muscle weakness—you can overcome it. Decide to start with something—walking, chair exercises, swimming. Just begin.

Your doctor says you have high blood pressure and cholesterol and/or you are told you are borderline diabetic. Excess fat, particularly belly fat, can increase your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and result in high cholesterol and high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The good news is weight loss can bring these numbers back into a healthy range. According to the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute, inactive people are nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who are more active. If you lose weight, you can avoid the myriad of risks associated with these medical conditions. (You may also be able to avoid being put on medication.)

You snore. Excess weight can sometimes result in obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where your breathing repeatedly stops for 10 seconds or more during sleep. Loud gasping-like snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea. The disorder results in decreased oxygen in the blood and can awaken sleepers throughout the night. The most common cause of obstructive sleep apnea is excess weight and obesity. If you feel tired most days and you are told you snore loudly at night, you could have sleep apnea. Lose weight and you may not need to see a sleep specialist.

You steadily gain several pounds each year. Do you steadily accumulate a few extra pounds each year? If your weight only goes up and never goes down, it’s time to lose.

Your joints hurt. If your knees, hips and back ache, is it due to extra weight that you are carrying around? Excess weight puts pressure on joints and can wear down the tissue around them, making joints ache and movement uncomfortable.

You make excuses. Humans are quite sophisticated at denial and layering on excuses to avoid reality and fears. If you spend a lot of energy explaining to yourself or others why you are overweight, why you don’t exercise or how you dislike healthy eating, your excuses could be a sign that it’s time to change. Let go of the explanations and focus that energy on becoming a healthier you.

You get winded walking up stairs. If you get winded walking up the stairs or doing every day activities, it could be due to weight gain. The National Institute of Health reports that the respiratory capacity decreases as you gain weight. Breathlessness can be associated with inactivity, a sign that your heart and lungs aren’t getting the workout they need to operate optimally.

You notice your clothes don’t fit anymore. Oh, those jeans you love and have had forever. If they suddenly don’t fit or are extremely tight, it’s time.

Your numbers are off. If your body mass index (BMI) is elevated and your waist is more than 35 inches (measured just over your hip bones) it’s probably time to drop the pounds. Your BMI is a measure of your body fat based on height and weight and you can use it as a gauge to know if you are overweight. Calculate your BMI here: The National Institutes of Health.

Do you have any of these signs you need to lose weight? Whether you have one or many of these signs, decide to take control and begin losing weight so you can be your healthiest self for you, your family and your life.

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