Help for making changes to lose weight
Knowing what causes weight gain and weight loss does not lead to permanent weight loss. That is the sad fact that leaves many hopeless about losing weight. In “Improving Cardiovascular health with Motivational Interviewing” (M. Van Nes and J. Sawatzky, Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 2010, 654-659), it is noted that the traditional method of giving advice to change behavior rarely leads to sustained behavior change. In fact, such advising may actually decrease the changes of behavior changes. This article taps into the wisdom of the Transtheoretical Model for Health Promotion (J. Prochasky and C. DiClemente), in which individuals that need to make behavior changes are classified on a continuum with one end being not even appreciating the need for change, then listening, all the way through wanting to change, doing it and then maintaining the change for good. The article authors note statistics that some two-thirds of people that need to make a behavioral change are in one of the first two stages and often stay there.
In Big Fat Crisis, by Deborah Cohen, M.D. MPH (Philadelphia, PA: Nation Books, 2014), the barrage of processed foods available at grocery stores, fast food restaurants and numerous other places, overwhelms our self-control. The advertising that promotes these foods is meant to lure us, and avoiding those is also smart. Dr. Robert Lustig, author of Fat Chance (New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2012) writes about changing one’s food environment to stop the hormonal abnormalities that drive overeating. He encourages a high fiber diet to increase fullness and satiety, eating breakfast and include protein if possible, avoiding processed foods and especially sugar, and exercising. But, as he wisely notes, don’t look to exercise to lose pounds but to improve your health (and that is hopefully what you are primarily after, right?).
So, this is the what is needed: decide to make the change (I assume most of the readers of this blog article are at least approaching this point to even be reading this article). Next, plan what you’ll need to do to make the changes such as avoiding restaurant meals, cutting out soft drinks, eating lots of fiber, staying away from processed foods, going to the Farmer’s market for locally grown fruits and vegetables, etc. YOU CAN DO IT. Set a date for starting, and if you trip and fall off your diet/new lifestyle, start back on your healthy diet the next day. One mistake does not equal failure by any means.
If it is easier to make the changes more gradually, do so! And remember that increasing fiber too quickly can create some gastrointestinal problems so introduce it slowly. I recommend oatmeal with ground flax, bran, and berries. Also, vegetables throughout the day. Avoid juice because they have carbohydrates without the essential fiber. And please, please, dear reader, do what you can to decrease stress because this nasty response can lead to high cortisol levels. As Dr. Lustig notes, exercise, even 15 minutes a day of walking, can lower cortisol levels.
All of this is hard work but these changes including regular exercise can go very far in losing weight, keeping it off and avoiding many chronic diseases. And it is worth it, isn’t it? This is not meant to replace the care of your primary health care provider.