First, ask yourself a question.
What happens when you reach that goal? Will you go back to your old habits? Stop exercising? Will you resume eating high calorie, high fat, processed foods? Go back to sugar loaded carbonated drinks? You will if you believe that magic pills, surgeries and shots alone can lead to lasting, permanent change. You would also be setting yourself up for FAILURE.
Do you believe in magic?
I have worked with patients preparing for bariatric surgery and after the surgery, people who decided to use Overeaters Anonymous, and patients on various medically supervised weight loss programs. The ones who succeeded, have changed how they think about food. They stop thinking of food as comfort or a pacifier. They stop thinking of food as their best friend or a buffer against uncomfortable emotions. These changes occur with help from a psychotherapist who can untangle the complex and often subconscious attitudes and beliefs that contributed to bad health choices.
People who succeed at long term weight loss have accepted that there is no magic pill, surgery, shot, or formula. Even if you do not have to exercise on some extremely low calorie, high protein diets to lose the initial weight, all the current research shows exercise must be a part of long term weight loss.
Breaking up is hard to do…
You have been involved in a toxic love affair with food. It is clogging your arteries, turning your blood to syrup, enlarging your heart, raising your blood pressure, draining your energy, and limiting your overall enjoyment of life. What does a healthy relationship with food look like? The exact opposite. It means that you no longer engage in mindless eating. Instead, you would enjoy healthy portions of vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and lean meats. You would be fully present in the moment while savoring the intense and complex flavors of your meals. You would learn to stop eating when satiated instead of after devouring everything on the table and in the cabinet. You would learn to read nutrition labels and what correct portion sizes are.
Buy a food scale. Create a journal of your intake (food and drink), exercise,and moods. Pay attention to fluctuations in weight and vitality based on your food choices. Notice if you consume more carbs and starches (i.e., comfort foods) when emotionally distressed. If you are working with a therapist, she can help determine if you are an emotional eater. Examining your journal will also help you determine which foods may be more difficult for your body to tolerate. If your insurance plan permits, have a consultation with a dietician or nutritionist. If not, a couple of good sources areHabits Not Diets and You: On a Diet.
I get by with a little help from my friends…
Who is in your circle? Your therapist, dietician, primary care doctor, and other healthcare professionals should be in your circle. When you are beginning the journey to lose weight, you need these professionals to help you do it safely. Your physician can help neutralize health problems that could be causing weight gain or make it difficult to lose weight. Your physician can also recommend safer exercise or prohibit certain weight loss drugs based on your health history. He or she can also help you be fully informed of the risks and benefits of various approaches to weight loss. In this age of technology, there are some great online support systems: Spark People, FitDay, and MyFitnessPal, etc. They allow you to track calories wherever you are, ask for help in moments of weakness, celebrate fitness goals, voice frustrations, and exchange ideas for fun exercises and nutritious meals.
Finally, family and friends may also be part of your network. Please be aware, this can be problematic if (1) they are significantly obese and have no interest in changing their habits, (2) they become jealous of your changes, (3) you become a new, highly confident and more outgoing person. Sometimes, these issues can be overcome by educating family and friends as you are progressing through your journey. Some couples benefit from couples therapy to get through the transitional issues. For rapid weightless, most individuals need time to adjust to their new bodies, especially if they have been obese for most of their life. Therapy can help with that as well.
These are the weight loss truths:
- It is hard
- There are no shortcuts
- It takes persistence and vigilance
- It is a lifelong commitment
What are the keys to success?
1. Change your mind. Your beliefs, thoughts, and emotions cannot remain the same if you want a healthier outcome.
2. End your toxic relationship with food
3. Set realistic weight loss goals
4. Learn and practice healthier choices
5. Raise your nutritional IQ
6. Identify and break down barriers to success
7. Create your support network