By: Karen Cooper, DO
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As a doctor, a big part of what I do is help people lose weight. If you are overweight and need some practical advice, here are some recommendations:
1. Restrict calories in a tailored program
Not all calories, or bodies, are the same. The right diet for weight loss can be different combinations of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. In my practice, I personalize the diet, working with patients in an ongoing process and adjusting based on their personality and what is medically correct for them.
2. Realize that a restrictive diet is a temporary measure
Restricting calories is only the first step and not a permanent solution. Once you lose weight, you should switch to a more moderate calorie intake balanced with regularly scheduled exercise activity.
3. Reach out for support
Unless you function better by yourself, support is key to long-term success. Find support from peers through weight management groups and/or a workout buddy, or professional help from behavioral and life coaches, psychologists, exercise physiologists and personal trainers.
4. Remember that weight loss is also about the mind
You have to be committed to the process. Losing weight is about so much more than what we eat. It’s often about how we feel about ourselves and what triggers us to make healthy or unhealthy choices. Remembering this will allow you to indulge in actions that positively change your behavior rather than pacify them with increased calories or being sedentary. (This also helps you be kind to yourself by not underestimating the effort involved.)
5. Consider the role of medication
Working with your doctor, it may be appropriate to consider appetite suppressants, such as phentermine, qsymia or lorcaserin, medications approved by the FDA for weight loss to enhance your weight loss efforts. You will have to meet clinical standards, such as a body mass index of 27 with one or more associated diseases or a body mass index of 30 or higher, with or without co-morbid disease(s).
6. Redefine exercise
Be creative in the way you move. It doesn’t have to be in a gym or structured environment. Just move more than you do now. Frequency (how often), intensity (how hard) and time (how long) are the components that matter when attempting to lose weight and keep it off. To lose weight, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends moderate- to high-intensity exercise for 60-90 minutes, at least five days per week.
To lose weight and keep it off, look beyond the initial weight loss to a permanent change in lifestyle behaviors and know that your efforts are not in vain.