I often counsel patients on how to lose weight. One of the most common obstacle I encounter is the perception that lasting weight loss is so difficult that only a very small minority (less than 5%) of overweight people achieve it.
You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that there are many people who experience lasting success. Studies like this, for example, show that 20% of overweight individuals can attain long-term weight loss, when they use the right approach.
This series of articles on weight loss will walk you through the principles and strategies that make success possible. I am going to use the ten commandments format to make it easier to understand and remember. Just like the ten commandments summarize the way we should relate to God and to our fellow human beings, the principles of weight loss discussed below attempt to summarize the successful attitude toward ourselves, food, and exercise.
Before we start, I need to make something clear. I don't mean to trivialize the Ten Commandments in any way, by modeling these articles on their format. In addition to the form issue, a lot of the principles for healthy weight control I will discuss in this series can can be traced back to the core principles of these divine pronouncements.
I - You Shall Have No Other Weight Loss Gods.
The main reason long-term weight loss is so elusive is, simply, the lack of a long-term approach. For the vast majority of overweight individuals, excessive weight is not a temporary issue. Either because of (epi)genetic factors, or lifestyle practices, or often both, their bodies end up accumulating weight as the years go by. It is not unusual, for a middle-aged adult, to weigh 50 or 100 or even more pounds than they did in their early twenties.
What this means, simply put, is that no temporary solution will work for a permanent problem. You need a long-lasting strategy, based on an understanding that the changes you are going to make are for a life-time, not for a few weeks or months. You need to give up the idea that if you followed this diet, or took that supplement or diet pill, you are going to lose weight AND be able to return to your previous way of living, while expecting the weight you lost to stay away from you.
This is really important, and it is the reason why I decided to give it first commandment status. Just as God asked ancient Israel to give him credit for liberating them from Egyptian slavery and recognize him as the only true God, it is very important to start your weight loss journey by acknowledging that there is only one way to do it right, and that involves a loyal, life-long commitment to a way of eating and exercising that is conducive to losing the excessive weight and promoting general health, overall. More on how to do this later.
For now, I encourage you to think of how liberating it is to know that, despite what a large segment of the weight loss industry wants you to believe, there really is only one right way to achieve lasting control over excessive weight. There should be no confusion. This is not a mountain whose summit can be accessed by many different routes. Rather, it is a life-long journey that starts by quitting worshiping weight loss gurus and idols. It is a way of living that channels your energy and time and other resources into finding a balanced way of dealing with food, exercise, stress, sleep and other aspects of your lifestyle.
In the next article, I will discuss how to set up realistic goals for weight loss.
Dr. Gily Ionescu MD, MS.