- Love thyself: Decide to lose excess weight because you are a wonderful person, not in order to become one. Improve your health for yourself, nobody else.
- Find an empathetic and caring Bariatric physician: Weight management is a very difficult endeavor, but made even more difficult without the aid of a skill and caring physician as your partner. Physicians who are trained in the field of Bariatric medicine are your best hope of finding safe and effective medical care.
- Set realistic goals: Be patient and don’t give up. You should try to lose between 1 to 2 pounds per week. A weight loss of even 10 pounds has shown to have significant health benefits. Once those 10 pounds are off, then go after another 10.
- Make your own rules: Develop a personalized system for eating. No one knows your weaknesses better than you. If you simply must have a candy bar once a day write it into your rules, and then find a way to balance these calories out by additional exercise or a smaller meal at dinner.
- Make a commitment: Do not give into the temptation to call it quits, if you make an error in judgment. Commit to yourself that you will make the lifelong changes in behavior that is necessary to lead to long-term weight loss.
- One day at a time: Don’t be disheartened by the enormity of your goals. Set realistic goals and wake up each day with the attitude that “I will put all I can into making the next 24 hours a successful period in my weight management effort”. Worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.
- Communicate your needs and plans to your friends and family: Ask them for support and understanding. Watch for saboteurs. Align yourself with those who will be most supportive.
- Choose an eating plan,exercise plan and behavioral plan that you can live with: Initially you and your physician will construct an aggressive weight loss plan, however, it is the plan that you can live with long-term that will keep the weight off long-term.
- Be the “boss” of what goes into your mouth: Blaming others for your overeating (e.g. “I had to eat it, it was offered to me”) is a way of avoiding personal responsibility for your own eating. Nobody is holding your nose and force-feeding you.
- Listen to your stomach: Ask yourself what’s hungry—your stomach or your eyes? Eat only when your stomach is hungry; stop eating when your stomach is no longer empty. It may take 20-30 minutes for the signals from the stomach to reach the brain, which tells the brain to stop eating.
- Eat slowly: Chew each bite 20 times before putting another bite into your mouth. Eating slowly allows the message from the stomach to reach the brain. It also gives you a sense of tasting the food. There are no taste buds in the stomach so eat slowly and enjoy every morsel of food. You can trick the brain into thinking that a large amount of food was eaten if you eat slowly and enjoy the food.
- Watch portion sizes: Restaurant plates have increased by 20% in size over the past decade. Meals are being super-sized. More is interpreted as better. Choose smaller plates, weigh and measure food portions, carefully read food labels to determine serving sizes.
- Fill your plate once: Do not return for seconds. Do not put the serving plates on the table.
- Do not eat food directly out of a box or container: Pour a measured amount of food into a separate serving plate.
- Exercise your self-control: Practice leaving food on your plate, leaving the table a little hungry, and walking past aromatic doughnut shops. Learn to put your health and body weight desires above your food intake desires.
- Learn how easy it is to substitute: Read labels, try new foods and snacks, and refer to your pocket calorie counter when making food selections. By substituting just 100 Kcal a day, you can lose 10 pounds a year.
- Know thyself: Use a daily food diary to determine what times of day and in what situations you’re most likely to lose control over your food choices. Develop an effective “battle plan.
- Pre-plan your food intake for each day: If you think you may dine out for lunch, begin to consider the substitutions or choices ahead of time. Consider how you may reduce calories at dinner that day, or how many additional minutes of exercise you must add into the day to make up for the additional calories.
- Keep a record of the calories you don’t eat: Did you skip the doughnut at work this morning? Award yourself 250 calories. Did you request “no gravy” on your potatoes? Give yourself 150 calories. At the end of the day see how many calories you almost ate, but didn’t.
- Eat only in designated eating areas: Do not eat in front of a T.V. Do not eat in your car. Do not eat while reading. Do not eat while on the computer or Internet. Eat only in the kitchen. Keep distractions to a minimum, so that you can enjoy each and every bite of your food and so that you are aware of the portions consumed.
- Learn new ways to eat: Reduce stress and then eat; don’t use eating to reduce stress. Take a five-minute walk or stair-climb before lunch; take a shower or read a book before dinner. Stress reduction = weight reduction.
- Be picky about what you eat: Don’t waste your calories on a food or snack that is so-so. Make sure that you really enjoy the calories that you consume. If you don’t love the taste of the food you are given, then stop eating it.
- Weigh in regularly: Weigh in weekly for the rest of your life. To manage a medical condition such as yours, you must monitor and record weights. This gives you the opportunity to make weekly adjustments in your treatment plan.
- Replace your reward system: In our society two tools are used to reward; money and food. Find a reward system that does not use food. When you get a raise in pay, when you finish a project at home, when you lose weight, develop another system to reward yourself, such a visiting a friend, buying some clothes, going to a movie, etc.
- Eat a sensible, well-balanced diet: Stress portion control and include a wide variety of grains, lean meats, fruits and vegetables. Restrict the use of fats and sugars.
- Develop a tolerance for hunger: Hunger is a sign that you have cut unnecessary calories. When you are experiencing stomach hunger then you are in a period of weight loss. If you do not give into this hunger, you body must go to its’ fat stores for energy. Look upon hunger pains as a sign of weight loss. The control you develop here may be your greatest asset in your weight management.
Following are additional suggestions for long-term weight management
- Build your exercise program gradually: By developing a program gradually, you will find a greater degree of comfort and less chance of injury. If you can keep your initial efforts at a reasonable intensity, you have a better chance of succeeding as you expand the amount of time spent exercising. Increase the amount of physical activity you do each day. For instance, start walking for 10 minutes a day and then build gradually to 30 minutes. Add 5 minutes each week until you reach your goal of 30 minutes.
- Have alternative plans: If you get your exercise from outdoor activities, pick an alternative indoor activity you can do when the weather is bad. If your best friend, whom you walk with daily, leaves town on vacation, invite another friend to walk with you that week.
- Burn more calories than you eat: Many people don’t eat too much, they simply exercise too little. Get up 15 minutes earlier and watch 15 fewer minutes of TV at night.
- Make exercise fun and do it with a loved one or friend: Try new things. Take up rollerblading, golf, dancing, and do it with somebody that you want to spend time with.
- Learn new ways to grocery shop: If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it. Shop when the stores are not crowded and when you’re relaxed.
- Eat before you shop: Shop on a full stomach, you will not be tempted to stray.
- Prepare a list: Make a shopping list at home when you’re not hungry and stick to this list without deviations.
- Don’t go down the “junk food” aisles: Again why tempt yourself; see no junk food, buy no junk food, eat no junk food.
- Eat before you dine: Much like shopping, you do not want to be in a position where you are extremely hungry and asked to make choices. Prior to leaving the home have a protein, fruit or vegetable snack. Just enough to temper your appetite, so that when you are given options you make the better choices.
- Avoid sitting near food: If you are at a buffet, sit across the room from the food. Always keep serving dishes away from your reach.
- Pre-plan: As a guest, ask the host or hostess what will be served so you can pre-plan the evening’s meal.
- Turn food away: Learn to refuse food effectively and gracefully when pressured by others.
- Demand service: Don’t hesitate, in a restaurant, to ask for a food to be prepared in a special way (e.g. fish broiled and served with lemon juice instead of butter) or to substitute items.
- Water-Water-Water: Drink water prior to any food intake and drink plenty of it. Many weight loss programs have failed due to the lack of a well-hydrated patient.
- Timing: Avoid eating after 7pm. Late night eating, followed by sleep is a formula for significant weight gain.
American Bariatric Centers®
Dr. Kevin Huffman