Everyone wants a cute shape with just the right amount of weight on their bones, right? Sometimes, when people are newly diagnosed with HIV, they worry about being “too skinny”. That really isn’t something HIV doctors worry about very often any more.
In the old days before we had good meds to treat HIV and AIDS, people who had AIDS (the most advanced stage of an HIV infection) often lost lots of weight. But people who get HIV treatment today almost never reach the AIDS stage, so we don’t really see this happen much anymore. In fact, like all Americans, people living with HIV are more likely to weigh too much than not enough.
When you take your HIV meds as prescribed, your body operates pretty much like it should. And that means you have to pay attention to maintaining a healthy weight, just like everyone else.
Maintaining a healthy weight
We all have something we could work on to make us healthier. Some people need to eat their veggies, and some need to get moving more. You probably know what area you, personally, could work on.
We all want miracle diets that help us lose weight by just taking a little pill. However, the best way to lose weight and get healthy is to monitor your diet and get exercise.
The simplest way to think about eating healthy is to picture your plate at a potluck. Fill half your plate with veggies (or maybe a bit of fruit too), a fourth of your plate with grains, and a fourth with protein. So, at that potluck, you’d grab lots of salad, some green beans, a piece of chicken or some pork (not both!) and a small portion of macaroni and cheese or rice and beans. Extra points if the rice is brown instead of white! 😉
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If you avoid the gym because you think it’s boring, try making it fun. Listen to some of your favorite music, a funny podcast, or an audiobook while you workout.
No money for a gym membership? Don’t sweat it. You can walk around your neighborhood. Do sit-ups when the commercials come on during Empire. Climb those stairs at the job. Lift weights at home (soup cans count as weights!) Go out dancing. There are lots of ways to get those exercise minutes in. Aim for about 30 minutes of exercise per day. Feeling lazy one day? It happens, just get those sneakers back on and head to the park for a bit longer the next day.
How being overweight can affect your health
This is what we know for sure: obesity leads to high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. And it can wear out your joints, causing pain in the knees, back, shoulders, and ankles. Here’s the thing – yes, you’ll live a long, healthy life with HIV as long as you stay on treatment – but – HIV meds and HIV itself can increase risk for high cholesterol (which can contribute to heart disease, just like obesity can) and can effect bone density. Maintaining a healthy weight can protect you against those things.