Hidradenitis suppurativa: Tips for weight-loss success

Try these six strategies to reduce your weight and boost your health.

If you're overweight, even a small amount of weight loss can have a big impact on your hidradenitis suppurativa and related health risks — risks such as heart disease and diabetes. Not only is obesity common with hidradenitis suppurativa, but extra weight also worsens the skin condition.

The foundation of successful weight loss is a healthy, calorie-controlled diet along with increased physical activity. But for successful long-term weight loss, you need to make permanent lifestyle changes.

How do you make those permanent changes? Consider these six strategies.

Make a commitment

To stay committed to weight loss requires focus. So as you're planning for weight-loss-related lifestyle changes, plan to address other stresses in your life first, such as financial problems or relationship conflicts.

Managing those stresses better should improve your ability to focus on achieving a healthier lifestyle. Then, once you're ready to launch your weight-loss plan, set a start date and — start.

Find your inner motivation

Make a list of what's important to you to help you stay motivated, whether it's improving your skin or your overall health or feeling better about yourself. Then find a way to recall your motivational factors during moments of temptation. Try posting an encouraging note to yourself on the pantry door, for example.

You also can be accountable to yourself by having regular weigh-ins or tracking your diet and exercise progress.

Set realistic goals

It's best to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week. To do so, you usually need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular physical activity. Depending on your weight, 5% of your current weight may be a realistic goal and can help lower your risk of chronic health problems.

When setting goals, think about both process and outcome goals. "Walk every day for 30 minutes" is a process goal. "Lose 10 pounds" is an outcome goal. An outcome goal gives you a target, but it doesn't address how you'll reach it. This is why process goals may be particularly important. They help you focus on changing behaviors and habits that are necessary for weight loss.

Enjoy healthier foods

Weight loss must involve taking in fewer calories than you usually do. One way you can do this is to eat more plant-based foods — fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Aim for variety to achieve your goals without giving up taste or nutrition.

Each day, eat at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits. Eat modest amounts of healthy fats, such as olive oil. Cut back on sugar. And choose low-fat dairy products and lean meat and poultry in limited amounts.

Eliminating dairy products and avoiding foods with brewer's yeast — such as bread, pizza dough and cake — also may ease hidradenitis symptoms over time.

Get active, stay active

Regular physical activity helps burn off the extra calories you can't cut through diet alone. It also helps boost mood, improve health and maintain weight loss. One of the best ways to lose body fat is through steady aerobic exercise — such as brisk walking — for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. Some people may need more physical activity than this to lose weight and maintain that loss.

Physical activity can sometimes be painful and irritate hidradenitis suppurativa skin lesions. To help avoid this:

  • Try activities that don't cause you to sweat as much, such as walking or yoga.
  • Wear loose clothing made out of cotton or a breathable fabric.
  • Exercise in cool temperatures or near a fan.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Take frequent breaks to limit chafing.
  • Take a short, lukewarm shower after your workout, and use a mild soap, a soap-free cleanser or a cleanser with an antibacterial agent if odor is a concern.

Change your perspective

After identifying your personal weight-loss challenges, try to create a strategy to gradually change your habits and attitudes that have sabotaged any past efforts. To lose weight once and for all, you have to move beyond simply recognizing your challenges — plan for how you'll deal with them.

You'll likely have an occasional setback. But instead of giving up on weight loss entirely, simply start fresh the next day. Remember that you're planning to change your life. It won't happen all at once. Stick to your healthy lifestyle and the results will be worth it.

Jan. 03, 2020 See more In-depth

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