Why are you not losing weight?
Is this the year you really want the weight to come off?
It’s hard to be objective with yourself, but here are tips from my experiences with my patients over the years.
Your motivation: Like an alcoholic, you have to first want to stop drinking in order to seek treatment, advice, or counseling. Most people are comfortable with their situation and don’t want to think of their weight as an issue.
Your support system: Perhaps your spouse, best friend, colleagues, or family members are in the same boat as you—or perhaps they don’t want to bring up a sensitive issue for fear of losing their relationship with you. Picking company that has your values is important, be it virtual or on social media.
Be accountable to yourself with a website account such as myfitnesspal.com or be accountable in public by sending messages to a friend or sibling. My patients can send me secure messages: “Ate at Zaxby’s, chicken salad, and walked 10,000 steps as well. High five, Doc!” Announce your weight loss intention and keep everyone posted about your progress—you could be that inspiration people are looking for.
Your surroundings: At home, be aware of comfort foods and “cravings”! Should one’s weakness be chocolate, then remove those chocolates from the house. That goes for pizza, chips, chevdo, naamkin, ice cream bars, etc.
When traveling, there are salads at cafeterias and airports; you can even buy one to eat later. At hotels, ask about the closest restaurants and check menus on their websites. Most fast food places serve “light” meals or “light” dressings and will give you nutritional values of their meals.
Anywhere, keep a healthy snack handy: a small serving of nuts or Wasabi beans in your pocket or a couple of boiled eggs in the refrigerator at work for those hunger pangs. Protein gives you steady energy so you won’t have the fatigue that comes from sugar or starch.
Your meals: Don’t skip meals. If you do and lose weight, you are only losing fluid and muscle—not good. You need to lose fat. Eat small frequent meals with high fiber and protein to keep full and energetic. This also keeps your blood sugar normal to prevent diabetes. And late night big meals can ruin the whole day’s effort.
Your food: You must eat quality and not quantity. Colorful fresh vegetables, lean meats and fish, quinoa, eggs, lentils, beans, daals, low fat cheeses, nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocados, berries, and whole grain flat breads or whole wheat naans are great foods to take home from the grocery store. Flavor with salsa, spices, yogurts, herbs, garlic, and ginger.
Watch those sodas and “healthy” smoothies; sugar, even sugar from fruit will really add up. Stay safe with water. To break the monotony, try flavored waters: put sliced fruit, or sliced cucumber with mint into mason jars, fill with filtered water, and keep ready in the fridge. Drinking plenty of water is essential to feel full but also to flush out wastes that collect in the blood stream. Flavored cold and warm teas can often break a sweet craving.
Sugar substitutes are blamed for altering bacteria in the GI tract, negatively impacting metabolism, and being counterproductive to weight loss. This can be mitigated with over the counter probiotics.
Your exercise: This is a must. It speeds your metabolism. Move, move, move. Get off that chair or couch. It is better to stand than sit, better to walk than stand, and better to run than walk. Try your computer at the kitchen counter. Stand frequently during the day. Use the bathroom downstairs, not the one on your floor. Take the stairs, not the elevator. Park far away. See how many handicapped parking spots there are—you don’t want one of those, for multiple reasons!
A Fitbit and the sensible eating outlined here HAS to work. There is no reason one can’t lose weight. Habits are difficult to break but once you change your habits to these great new ones, you will never be overweight again! Keep me posted. I want to hear your success story.
[Gulshan Harjee, M.D., is a board certified internist in private practice with an emphasis on prevention. Please email your health and medical questions for consideration in this column to: gharjee@comcast. net. The material in this column is of a general nature, and must not be construed as specific medical advice. This column rotates monthly along with the Fitness Lifestyle column by Aarti Patel.]
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