What does healthy medical weight loss look like?
Healthy medical weight loss isn’t losing one hundred pounds in two weeks. You didn’t gain your weight overnight so expecting it to disappear quickly is setting yourself up for dangerous fad dieting and greater health risks.
There is no magic pill, surgery, or “new” diet that will help you reduce your weight and keep it off without dramatic, and potentially deadly, side effects. Weight loss isn’t about what you eat. It’s about how you live.
Healthy medical weight loss is a slow and steady process. You’re developing new habits and overwriting years of unhealthy choices. Do you know how long it takes to actually develop a new habit? It takes between 18 and 254 days! That’s a large margin. Be patient with yourself and keep your eye on little goals.
When you lose weight, it will be 1-2 pounds a week (or more when you first start your new lifestyle patterns). The way your clothes fit you will tell you more about your weight loss journey than the scale. Your waist, legs, arms, chest, back, and neck are all places that will show weight loss before your face. Some will lose weight in certain areas first. If you must use the scale, don’t obsess over your weight. The added stress can actually cause more trouble to your journey. Your 1-2 lb loss per week is an average. So, if you weigh yourself every day, make sure you average out your total at the end of the week. Daily tracking is a snapshot of a moment. Your body is about fuel efficiency over time.
Weight loss is made up of three areas: behavioral treatment, a healthy diet that meets a minimum caloric requirement, and physical activity.
Behavioral treatment helps you transition into a more active and health-focused lifestyle. It helps you find patterns of behavior and figure out what causes them so you can recognize your triggers and keep them in check. Fatigue and stress are huge factors in what your body craves, so know that a healthy lifestyle includes more than just diet and exercise.
Making you get the minimum number of calories to maintain your body health is very important. Most often, we believe that our bodies can burn more calories (and our fat reserves) if we eat less and less. What actually happens is that your body switches to starvation mode and begins hoarding the fat and shutting down other parts of your body. At the same time, paying attention to how often you eat and what you put in your body is important as well. Keeping a food log really helps you out. It will show you whether you’re getting the right balance of vitamins and nutrients, but it can also show you trends you weren’t aware of. Do you end up binging on leftover donuts in the breakroom after the Tuesday morning meeting? If so, is it because you skipped breakfast during your morning rush to get everything ready for it, or because the food was there and it was easier to grab than going back to your desk? If you notice a trend like this, you can prepare ahead of time so you don’t grab the donut without making an active decision to do so. If it’s because it’s convenient, have a snack. If you’re craving sweets, make sure you have a sweet snack before the meeting. Once you know the reasons behind your decisions, it becomes easier to make conscious choices.
Physical activity is a cornerstone to your weight loss journey. Food is fuel to the engine of your body and physical activity is how you make that fuel (and the fat in your body) burn. Overdoing it can cause strain and permanent injury, so make sure you start out at your current physical level. We tend to want to do the same level of intensity as we did back in our prime, but that can be detrimental to our journey. If you can’t avoid competing with the memory of more active days, consider trying a new sport, activity, or exercise you’ve never attempted before.
When your weight plateaus, it could be that your body has become efficient at your level of activity, or that something else is going on. It’s a good idea at this point to get another blood panel done to make sure there’s nothing else happening behind the scenes.
More than appearance, your weight loss will also affect things you don’t see. Here are some lab tests that may change as you move to a healthier medical weight.
Lipid blood tests are used to measure cholesterol levels and types. There are “good” and “bad” types of cholesterol. Bad levels can build in the arteries of the heart which can cause a blockage that may end in a heart attack. With weight loss, your lipid profile levels should change for the better.
Testosterone levels can be inhibited by obesity. As the body loses weight, testosterone production may return to its normal levels.
The C-Reactive Protein cardiac blood test shows the overall inflammation of your body and is most often used to test for heart disease. Losing weight can lower these levels.
Your body is a machine that is efficient at whatever lifestyle you put it in. If you want to lose weight, give it the fuel, dedication, and focus it deserves to take you to the next level.