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Sustainable Weight Loss – Part 3:
The Long View

Now you understand the “simple math” program and the three P’s of mindful eating, how do we put the “sustained” into weight loss?

Keep Your Eye on the Prizes:

What are the rewards for sustained weight loss?

  • More energy
  • Enhanced self esteem
  • Significant health care cost savings
  • Better wardrobe to choose from (you can stride right past that XXL rack in Wal*Mart with a biiiig smile)

The Long Viewclimbing_up

Your health is your most important asset, and it’s worth investing in your health to fully enjoy your time on earth. An investment in your health in the form of time and energy now will save you thousands of dollars in the future by avoiding the need for surgeries, medications, and other interventions for poor health caused by excess fat.

Most patients who see me expressing a desire to lose weight wish to lose anywhere from 30 too 100 lbs plus. This type of weight loss doesn’t happen overnight. It didn’t get there overnight. And it will not stay off without some changes in lifestyle and thought processes related to food. To enjoy sustained weight loss requires a commitment to yourself.

Set Your Goal

A healthy goal is a body mass index of 22-26 (BMI, height in meters squared divided by weight in kg). You can easily determine your present BMI by going to the U.S. Dep’t of Agriculture site, My Pyramid Program. It will walk through calculating your body mass index and setting goals with your activity level and eating plans.

If you don’t want to bother with your BMI, an easy way to determine a healthy weight, if you’re a woman, is to allow 100 lbs for 5 feet in height plus five pounds for every inch you are over 5 feet. For example, if your 5’3″ a healthy weight is 115 lbs; if you’re 5’7″ a healthy weight is 135 lbs.

No woman should weigh 200 pounds unless she’s 6’8″ tall. Period. If you are over 200 lbs set your initial goal to get under 200 lbs.

Time Frame: One Year

When I’m setting weight loss goals for patients I give them a year to meet their goal. Some may get there a little before or a little after a year–that’s fine. If you get there sooner than a year congratulations; after–congratulations as well. There’s no blue ribbon for the fastest weight loss. Your prizes are (all together now):

  • more energy,
  • enhanced self-esteem,
  • and future cost-savings

Enlist Supporters

Sometimes the largest barriers to weight loss are found among family, friends, and co-workers. Sidestep the Nay Sayers.

Seek the people with the positive attitude (PPA’s) and tell them about your program. Share your goals. Enlist their support. I’ve seen lots of people tweet their weight loss on Twitter. What a great way to get those daily “Atta Girls!”.

Better yet, see if you can make weight loss a group effort. Does your entire family need to lose weight? Entire communities have had success in implementing and realizing weight loss goals on a community-wide basis.

You can find some great on-line support here (3fatchicks blog) and here (Twitter #10morepounds founder) and here (sparkpeople).

If you want someone to be “accountable” to and set deadlines, ask your physician to play that role.

Sustainable Activity

The best “exercise” program is an increase in your activity you can incorporate into your lifestyle. My favorite weight loss exercises are walking (30 minutes 5 times/week) and yoga (love Shiva Rae’s DVD’s on Flow Yoga). Walking is excellent for weight loss because it keeps your heart rate in the “fat burning” range (60-70% of your max heart rate). Running is great as well, but can be hard on the joints. Yoga dramatically improves balance, flexibility, and core strength.

Incorporate activity into your day.

  • Walk or bike to work.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Walk during your lunch hour or after dinner.
  • If you drive to work, park at the edge of the parking lot so you have to walk some to get to  your office.

As with diet, pick an array of exercises to choose from to avoid boredom. Make contingency plans for bad weather, illnesses, family emergencies, and plain old busy days. If you have a treadmill or elliptical, use it. Aim to exercise five times per week. Keep a calendar if necessary; hold  yourself accountable.

How Can “Health Care” Help?

The best appetite suppressant is regular exercise. An early morning yoga session can curb your appetite for the entire day. An evening walk after dinner can suppress the desire to snack at night and help you sleep better.

There are medications to suppress appetite (such as phentermine and sibutramine). However, I’d only recommend these if you feel you need something to “jump start” you.

Many weight loss “magic potions” and “magic pills” are scams that will do nothing more than lighten your wallet. Exercise caution.

Bariatric surgery is a last resort for those who are  morbidly obese and have struggled repeatedly with “diets”. It is effective but is costly, has risks, and you can actually be too heavy to undergo bariatric surgery safely.

What has worked for you? Share your experiences…

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