The start of a New Year is a time for change, a time for new beginnings. These are often in the form of new year’s resolutions. There are various things people choose: quitting smoking, quitting alcohol or might involve relationships.
If you are a smoker quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health but I will be posting about that another time. Today’s post is about weight loss. In all the places I have worked as a family doctor weight loss advice is a common request.
Everyone knows they should cut back on calories (or kilojoules if you prefer) and also exercise more. They should be done in that order as well. If you put less energy in then there’s less calories you have to burn to maintain your weight or reduce it. If it is so well known why is it so hard? More of us are overweight or obese than ever before and most attempts result in failure.
Like with anything else, don’t give up is the first thing to say. Secondly it is important to focus on reducing “energy in” (food & drink) and increasing “energy out” (physical activity). Most diets/plans/approaches have this basic principle hidden somewhere. One of the most dramatic non surgical weight loss achievements I have seen was someone who tried Lite n’ Easy (an Australian meal planning service). This company designs meals controlled in size and calorie content, so that you don’t overeat, and delivers them so that you don’t need to prepare anything. The person who reported the success found it expensive so couldn’t continue with it.
Increasing physical activity is best done in stages, walking to the shops rather than taking the car, walking to the train station instead of being dropped off by car. Beyond changes in daily habits I’ve seen lots of people do well with youtube videos. Dr Oz has exercise videos, Joe Wicks has short workouts and so does Shaun T. There are others that might suit you better. Choose an instructor you like and stick to them. There are short videos to begin with and longer ones for when you are ready.
What about medicines and supplements? Doctors can be prescribe medicines such as duromine which helps suppress appetite or orlistat which prevents fat absorption but these can be expensive and should only be used as part of a broader weight loss plan. Shelves at pharmacies are full of supplements but these often contain caffeine and other stimulants and again can be expensive over time.
Organisations/groups like Weight Watchers or weight reduction clubs are good for providing moral support. Writing a plan and keeping a diary is helpful as well. Write what your target is, when you want to achieve it by and why. The diary could be a short daily entry recording what went well and what could be.
Sometimes there can be an underlying medical problem contributing to being overweight so it’s worth talking to a doctor or a dietitian. If your weight has been increasing for a long time and bariatric surgery might be the only option then this needs to be discussed with your doctor as well.
Trying different changes and making multiple small changes are likely to yield results more than relying on one thing alone.
Good luck if you are aiming to lose weight this year!
Dr Amit Patel
Declaration and disclaimer: I do not have any affiliation with any of the companies or individuals described above. This post is not a substitute for medical advice. You should not make any sudden drastic changes to your lifestyle without speaking to your doctor first