Most people are sick and tired of being told to achieve weight loss by “eating less and exercising more”. And with good reason: a growing body of research is showing that often times diet and exercise are not enough to help someone lose meaningful weight and keep it off.
Restrictive dieting is difficult both physically and emotionally. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline, planning and commitment. When the numbers on the scale do not reflect the amount of hard work you are putting into losing weight, it can get discouraging. You try so hard, but the scale doesn't seem to care.
For some, exercise is a concept that is not applicable. A recent patient who was at a weight of 550 pounds, said “It isn’t that I don’t want to exercise - no one understands that when you are very large, even something like taking a shower can be a painful and exhausting and sometimes a nearly impossible feat. And you want me to start walking around the block? That's just a disaster waiting to happen.”
Simply providing a chronically weight challenged person the latest diet and exercise book or piece of fitness equipment simply will not work either. A different approach and mindset has to be taken into consideration with large-scale, long term weight loss. A paper published in the journal Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology explains the necessity for obesity to be recognized as a serious chronic disease with biological foundations—not JUST a result of lack of diet and exercise.
Lifestyle modifications can result in lasting weight loss in individuals who are overweight. But with those facing chronic obesity, body weight seems to be biologically “stamped in” and defended. Research shows that while obese patients will be successful in the first few months of a diet and exercise only - weight loss program, but as much as 80 to 95 percent will eventually regain the weight lost.
So, here lies the predicament
If obesity is not exclusively due to poor lifestyle choices, and diet and exercise is statistically proven not to work for substantial long term weight loss - where do you start?
First of all, seek supervision. There are many health risks that come with obesity. You should understand what is happening in your body begin seeking a treatment plan that is realistic and healthy for you.
Healthy eating and exercise is of course always recommended. After all, a healthy lifestyle should be the ultimate goal of any weight loss effort. But if dieting and exercise alone have not worked for you in the past, you should also be open to alternate weight loss methods.
Weight loss medication, non-surgical procedures such as the gastric balloon or weight loss surgeries like the duodenal switch or the gastric sleeve could be the jump-start you need. Do not be afraid or ashamed to admit you need extra help. There is nothing wrong with using available tools to achieve long term health. Any of these methods combined with healthy eating and exercise could result in the weight loss and health benefits you have been wishing for.
Weight loss surgery of course results in most significant weight loss instantly and long term. More importantly, medical conditions associated with obesity such as type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and symptoms of heart disease are immediately eliminated or significantly reduced.
Although alternative methods will produce immediate weight loss, focus should always be to adapt a healthy lifestyle. Talk with a reputable weight loss specialist to understand what options are the best option for you and your lifestyle.
Don’t let fear hold you back. “Sometimes doing what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.”