By Dr. Bo Rosenblat
Chief Physician for Dr. Bo’s Diet
You’ve made up your mind that it’s time to lose weight, but despite all your efforts the scale is only creeping–if it’s moving at all. Due to frustration and discouragingly slow losses, this is the point where many people give up on their hopes of ever reaching their goals of a healthy lifestyle and manageable weight. It’s common to think that the problem is with what you aren’t doing, when in truth the problems are usually rooted in what you are doing. So if you haven’t been able to get the scale to budge, see if you’re unknowingly part of the problem:
If It’s Broke, Fix It. If you’re thinking that the same tricks and shortcuts you took in your teens and twenties will continue to work indefinitely, guess what: they won’t! As our bodies age, we need different things to keep ourselves fit and at a healthy weight. As we age, our bodies begin to change. Metabolic function often slows down after years of abuse, we lose precious lean-muscle mass, and the pounds creep up. Don’t be discouraged; there is much that can be done. As our bodies change, so must our dietary and exercise habits. Incorporating weight-bearing activity for at least 30 minutes, three days per week will help build up your muscle mass. Since your body requires extra energy (a.k.a. calories) to maintain muscle, your daily caloric burn will be higher with more lean muscle gained.
Blame Your Mother (or Father). If you’ve been blaming your physique on “bad genes,” you may be partly correct. Genetics accounts for anywhere from 50% to 90% of how and where your extra body fat is stored, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fight Mother Nature. Many people complain of a slow metabolism when the problem is generally inconsistent behavior that has led to metabolic abuse rather than a true condition. While your wispy sibling may take after Dad and not seem to struggle at all to maintain his weight, you on the other hand have a wide waist and hips thanks to Mom. Don’t despair; while genetics may make it more challenging, losing weight is far from impossible. Consistency is key when you are predisposed to carrying extra weight. Eating on a schedule and calorie-counting (even for a short period like a week) can ease your body back on track and allow you to understand your true caloric intake. Scheduled eating keeps your metabolism functioning properly and helps avoid the extreme hunger that often leads to overeating.
Your Pills Are Making You Puffy. If you take medication to treat high blood pressure, diabetes, mood disorders, or autoimmune diseases, you may find that your weight has gone up. Some medications affect your appetite, making you hungrier. Some cause you to store more fat, and others may cause water retention or “artificial weight.” You may want to ask your doctor about possible alternatives or whether an adjustment to your dosage may be in order. The good news is that you can lose weight even while taking medications that may be part of the problem. Sticking to a strict diet plan to get your scale moving in the right direction can help. When you keep your options limited, you are less likely to deviate. Limit refined starches, sugars, and packaged foods and instead opt for protein, fruits, vegetables, and reasonable portions of whole grains. Losing even 10 to 15 pounds can be enough for your doctor to cut down your medication. Often it’s getting started that can feel the most challenging, but the more you lose the easier it becomes.
You’re a Mealtime Martyr. Although you are trying to lose weight and get your health on track, you continuously get sabotaged by the meals and snacks you prepare for others. If your spouse or children will only eat fast food or you feel the need to keep your pantry stocked with cookies and chips for fear of a revolt, you’re not helping anyone, least of all yourself. Your picky eater will soon learn that if chicken nuggets don’t exist, another option will. Understandably, you won’t be able to empty your fridge, but a good place to start is by eliminating your trigger foods. If Oreos interfere with your diet no matter what, banish them and replace them with another product. Try to buy smaller packages of the foods that may tempt you. Seeing that same huge bag of chips in the pantry makes it more likely that your willpower will cave. Keeping a few single-serving-size bags tucked away will lessen your likelihood of a binge.
‘Going Out’ Means ‘Eating Out.’ So your social calendar is chock-full of events; that’s not an excuse to continuously indulge. You may be thwarting your efforts by making excuses for too frequent indulgences. Just because it’s your coworker’s birthday doesn’t mean you have to have cake. Just because you’re at a wedding doesn’t mean you have to sample the entire cocktail hour. While these types of social events do present environmental challenges, like a birthday cake giving you a stare-down, you can find ways to cope. Say no to unnecessary or seemingly obligatory offers like dessert or second servings. Keep your hands occupied with something else. Try holding tea or coffee while others are eating cake. You will be less likely to succumb to unconscious nibbling and picking. When you have events or dinner parties, go in with a plan. When we try and wing it, we can easily get flustered when the waiter comes. It can feel embarrassing to start making special requests or asking lots of questions. Take a look at the menu beforehand (when possible) to make ordering a breeze. At weddings or other affairs, you can always request a fruit or vegetable plate in lieu of another item. v
Dr. Bo Rosenblat is a board-certified medical doctor and chief physician of Dr. Bo’s Diet Center, with office locations in Hewlett and Manhasset. For more information about Dr. Bo’s Diet program, please call 516-284-8248 or visit www.DrBosDiet.com.