"I'm trying to lose weight, but nothing seems to be working," I overheard a larger woman at the next booth say in frustration as a server placed a 1,500-calorie meal before her.
"I am doing everything possible but haven't lost any weight." Discouraged patients frequently express this thought to their physicians. Unfortunately, these excuses (let's label them accurately) don't fly with the doctor because medical conditions rarely prevent weight loss. The truth is, after conducting an honest and introspective self-evaluation, very few individuals are doing "everything" in their power to lose weight.
Although one-third of all Americans are obese, the key strategy to weight loss can be simply summarized: Eat less and move more.
Another approach involves utilization of a "scare tactic," where long-term effects of obesity persuade or scare us into losing weight. These serious consequences include hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. For example, malignancies such as endometrial cancer are strongly linked to obesity.
Since obesity side effects are so serious, individual accountability is critical to fighting fat. Consider the following helpful strategies:
* Specificity. Write down your specific weight loss goals and your specific plan to achieve them. Once again: Be specific. For example, instead of saying "I want to lose weight this month", write down: "I will lose 25 pounds in three months by losing two pounds every week. I will accomplish this by exercising 30 minutes daily for six days a week and by consuming 1,800 calories per day."
* Professional. Meet with a personal trainer and nutritionist at least once to generate goals and get properly started. Speak to your physician to ensure that the planned exercise program is appropriate.
* Water. Drink at least 16 to 32 ounces of water before eating every meal and snack. This will create a faster feeling of fullness and prevent overeating. Seventy-five percent of weight loss is dependent on our diet, while our activity is responsible for the remaining 25 percent of the battle.
* Partnership. Find a partner with similar weight-loss goals to increase the likelihood of success. For example, you are 10 times more likely to visit the gym tomorrow morning at 6 if a friend is counting on your arrival.
* Phone app. Download an app such as My Fitness Pal or Lose It (both are free). Use the app daily. Log your daily weight, exercise and caloric consumption. Have fun watching the app display your personal graphs as the pounds melt away. If you are not technologically savvy, record your daily caloric intake and activities on paper in a personal weight-loss diary.
Remember, be honest with yourself. Take responsibility for your weight-loss goals. These valuable strategies will help you feel better, look great and live healthier. For additional instructions about combatting obesity, consult your family physician or ob/gyn as soon as you can.
Dr. Ryan Miller is an obstetrician and gynecologist at Tanner Clinic in Syracuse. His special interests include obstetrics, minimally invasive gynecologic surgery, hysteroscopy, pregnancy and general women's healthcare.