I just had the most amazing experience of traveling through Israel with a group of women. The trip leader kept telling us we needed to water our lives by sprinkling them, not drinking from the whole garden hose at once. This saying really resonated with me. I often hear my friends make New Year’s resolutions that are big and grand, such as, “I am going to finally lose 50 pounds.” That is too large and lofty of a goal—you need to break it down into smaller goals. You did not gain the whole 50 pounds in the last three months, so you can not expect to have it all gone and the perfect body by spring break. We often are super motivated in January and join an expensive gym or commit to a difficult-to-follow weight-loss program. Then come mid-January we feel like failures because we didn’t get up and go to the gym every day at 5 a.m. or we actually ate some carbs. Deep down we knew those things were never going to happen.
I want you to set realistic goals. “I am going to lose 15 pounds by spring break. Once I hit that goal and feel more comfortable in my bathing suit, I am going to focus on the next 15 pounds before summer. Then this summer I am going to reward myself with a new bathing suit. When fall comes and I am down another 10 pounds, I am buying new fall clothes.” (After all, that is the best clothing season!) When we meet back at Christmas time, you may be down the whole 50 pounds and we can then focus on the maintenance phase. If you are not at your goal, then we again set small goals and figure out how to make them work. You need to take weight loss in little sprinkles with great rewards.
Once you have set your weight-loss mini goals, it’s time to plan how you are going to go about achieving those goals. It is not a one-size-fits-all-thing. You may discover that a plan which worked for you in the winter falls apart over the summer when the kids are home from school. You have to be willing to adjust and realize that making these adjustments is not a failure.
I meet with my patients on an individual basis and we spend a lot of time figuring out triggers for weight gain, and I do not have a cookie-cutter plan for treating weight loss. I do, however, have four steps everyone should start with. Read The Obesity Code by Jason Fung MD. This book is an easy read and does a great job of explaining our current obesity epidemic. It also takes a hard look at why the old saying of “eat less, exercise more” does not work for most of us. After reading this book you are ready for step two: it’s time to get started on intermittent fasting. I mean, no one really needs to eat after 8 p.m. and before noon. It sounds daunting, but after a few days you will find it’s an easy lifestyle change that didn’t cost you any money and doesn’t have complicated rules. Step three is often the hardest: you need to look at your alcohol consumption. This becomes an issue when you are no longer eating after 8 p.m. For most people this is difficult, but you need to start thinking about what you are escaping by drinking alcohol (but that is a whole different blog post . . .). The final step is to track what you are eating. This doesn’t have to be a long-term thing, but you want to make sure you are not eating for all eight hours of your eating window. Writing things down at the beginning really helps.
Let this new year be a time for self-reflection. Start with sprinkles and by next year you may be able to handle the whole garden hose! You got this, and as always I am available to meet with you on an individual basis.