My very first weight loss patient to lose 50 pounds on my program made a statement to me on that visit which has stuck with me since that day. I have repeated it to hundreds of patients since. She said, “It is still hard. I have to get up and make the decision every day that I am going to eat healthy and exercise today.” Yes, it was easier than it was on her first day, but it was still hard.
I often say that there is no magic pill or diet for lasting weight loss success. It takes changing lifestyle. We’ve all heard it before. But hearing it and seeing it in action as my patients are losing weight makes it tangible to me. From my experience with patients, I find that it takes about a week to reduce cravings for sweets and refined carbohydrates after eliminating them from the diet. It takes about three months of being very careful about every bite of food – knowing the exact portion and calories and protein and fat of each food- until it becomes more of a natural habit. This leads to the ability to choose the healthier options even when eating out and thinking of food as fuel instead of an emotional or social outlet.
Patients don’t accidentally lose weight on my programs. My most successful patients put time and energy into the effort every single day. They eat the low glycemic foods I recommend, track their calories daily, and exercise regularly. It is a partnership with each patient – I provide them tools and education and help them problem solve for specific obstacles and my patients do the work. My patients that keep the weight off keep doing the work.
Those of us with chronic weight issues face an uphill battle to maintain our weight loss. When it has become our habit to eat regular, healthy meals throughout the day and exercise on a regular basis and these habits become as natural to us as taking a shower every day, we will have everything we need to win our battle. We strive to reach that goal and it takes hard work and dedication. It isn’t easy and there aren’t any short cuts. But it is absolutely possible when approaching weight loss as a lifestyle change- not a diet. My patients remind me of this every day.