If you're carrying a little extra weight, you probably already know there are a host of health-related reasons to slim down. Even small changes on the scale can improve blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, diabetes and heart health.
But those aren't always the benefits that are the easiest to see or even visualize -- especially when compared to something very, very concrete, like how your favorite pair of skinny jeans fits.
Getting to a healthy weight is worth it for so many reasons, but here are a few convincing ones that have nothing to do with what you see in the mirror.
You'll sleep better.
At a recent presentation at the joint meetings of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society in Chicago, researchers discussed their findings on the effects of weight loss on sleep -- and the results were positive. They found that obese adults who lost 5 percent or more of their bodyweight reported getting more and better sleep after six months of weight loss. Of the 390 study participants, those who lost at least 5 percent of their bodyweight had gained almost 22 minutes of additional sleep per night, while people who lost less than 5 percent of their bodyweight gained only about one additional minute of sleep.
Your brain may thank you.
A 2013 study found that obese older adults scored worse on a series of cognitive tests than their healthy-weight peers. While excess weight had been linked in the past to cognitive decline in animal studies, little was understood about the interaction between obesity and the brain at the time, The New York Times reported. However. research that came out just this year suggests that obesity weakens the blood-brain barrier, thereby allowing substances manufactured by fat cells to flow to the brain, just as they flow to the heart and other muscles in overweight people, according to The Times. In mice, a 12-week exercise routine led to a significant boost in brainpower, even when the mice didn't lose much total weight (they lost plenty of fat and gained lean muscle).
Your skin may clear up.
Excess weight seems to be associated with a wide variety of changes to the body's largest organ. More studies are needed to understand how obesity plays a role in blemishes and infections of the skin, but there is research to suggest losing weight can improve psoriasis. A 2013 study showed that obese adults with psoriasis who followed a low-calorie diet for eight weeks to lose weight saw improvements in the severity of their psoriasis, as well as in measures of what's known as dermatologic quality of life.
You'll save money.
Slimming your waist may fatten up your wallet, according to a 2010 study from George Washington University. The researchers calculated the costs of medical bills, missed work days, low-productivity work days, short-term disability, workers' compensation and other personal costs and found tangible financial differences between overweight people and their healthy-weight peers. Annually, being overweight costs women $524 and men $432, and being obese costs $4,879 and $2,646 for women and men, respectively, according to the study.
You may feel less pain.
Carrying excess weight can create or worsen joint pain for two possible reasons: Being overweight increases stress on the joints, and it may increase inflammation throughout the body, which can in turn lead to additional joint pain, according to Harvard Medical School.
But losing weight can often help to limit existing pain and protect the joints from future problems. General care guidelines for knee, hip and ankle pain include losing weight for someone who is overweight. Recently, a Wake Forest University study found that overweight and obese adults with knee osteoarthritis felt less pain, walked faster and were more mobile after losing 10 percent of their bodyweight, USA Today reported.
You'll feel steamier between the sheets.
In 2011, Australian research found that among obese men with diabetes, losing 5 to 10 percent of their bodyweight led to improvements in erectile function and libido, Health.com reported, likely because of the strain obesity puts on the heart and blood vessels. However, ego and self-esteem may play a role too, New York Presbyterian Hospital psychologist Stephen Josephson, Ph.D., told Health.com. "People need to feel good about themselves [to] overcome performance anxiety and other things in the sex arena, and sometimes it's as simple as getting into shape," he said.