By Dean Sloan, MD
Ok, the holiday season is now over, and it’s time to “get back to reality.” Did you do the conventional things over the holidays, like indulge in party food and drink and do no exercise, promising yourself you would start a diet on January 2? If so, don’t be upset with yourself for gaining weight. Just don’t go on a diet!
If you are familiar with my philosophy on weight loss, you know how I feel about diets. They are a complete waste of time and often a waste of money and health as well. The only weight loss worth pursuing is permanent weight loss, and this, of course, requires a permanent adjustment to your eating and activity habits.
Most of us know that permanent weight loss requires the observance of a healthful lifestyle, but many of us think that means eating only bland, boring foods and sweating through hours of exercise each day. And, we think it means we will never again be able to indulge in our favorite foods. None of this is true.
A healthful lifestyle can be quite easy to understand and follow. Start the day with a breakfast of low sugar cereal, low sugar oatmeal or bread with spread, and accompany that with a cup of fruit.
For lunch and dinner eat as many vegetables, raw and/or cooked, as you can along with enough protein (fish, lean fowl, beef and pork, eggs and low fat dairy) to satisfy your appetite.
Avoid starches (potatoes, pasta, rice, bread and corn) at dinner and eat them sparingly at lunch.
Be sure to eat a protein snack between meals that are more than four hours apart. And, drink water and other non-sugar-containing beverages throughout the day.
For your exercise, choose an activity you are comfortable doing, such as walking, cycling or swimming, and start off with a duration and intensity that are appropriate for you.
Your goal is to gradually increase your exercise to 45 minutes a day, at least five days a week. Once you are doing that, your next goal is to gradually increase the intensity of your exercise to the point that your heart and breathing rates are modestly elevated.
Go to work
Now, you are probably thinking you “can’t do” or “don’t want to do” all the things you’ve just read. You want your starches and sweets, and you “don’t have the time” for 45 minutes of exercise a day. I get it: most of us resist change, especially lifestyle changes. Eating fattening foods and sitting all day are extremely addictive, and our culture completely supports the pursuit of these behaviors.
You are in a quandary: you want to lose weight and keep it off, but you don’t want to observe the lifestyle that will produce this weight loss. You want to believe there is a pill, potion, powder, injection or device that will do the work for you, as you’ve seen in the media and heard about from friends. There isn’t. Trust me. So, what do you do?
Think about everything in your life you’ve ever wanted badly, such as a college education, a rewarding career, a loving relationship, healthy kids, a beautiful home and money in the bank. How did you approach achieving these goals? You “went to work” and did whatever it took to be successful. You devoted time and effort to the cause, even when you weren’t in the mood, because you had to have the end result of the process.
Now, think about how badly you want to lose weight and keep it off. Is your desire as strong as the wanting you felt for the other goals in your life? If so, you can approach your weight loss the same way you did your other goals: you can “go to work,” put in the time and effort, and be as successful as you have been at everything else in your life that has really mattered.
The bottom line is this: when your desire to become the thinner you is greater than your desire for a “fattening” lifestyle, you will lose as much excess weight as your body is capable of losing. Consider the enormous and exciting benefits that weight loss provides to your health, appearance, and self-image. Imagine looking great, being well and feeling like a million bucks. Doesn’t all this trump the fleeting pleasure associated with the consumption of fattening foods?
So, what’s it gonna be this year? Will you take the conventional approach to weight loss and go on a diet of some sort, followed by a return to your normal lifestyle and overweight state? Or, will you “see the light” and embark on a journey to transform yourself to the permanently thinner you?
My advice: this year, make it a truly happy new year!
About Dean Sloan, MD
Dean Sloan, MD, is the founder of the Oasis Weight Loss Center, a medical practice devoted exclusively to the treatment of the overweight state and its associated diseases. Dr. Sloan practiced family medicine from 1986 to 2000, complementing his busy solo practice with numerous medical staff leadership positions and a residency program teaching faculty appointment. In 2000, he shifted the focus of his practice to lifestyle medicine and, since then, has taught thousands of people how to lose excess weight and improve chronic medical conditions via lifestyle modification. Dr. Sloan graduated from the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1983, having earned his
undergraduate and medical degrees in a total of five years, rather than the traditional eight.