People who are interested in losing weight are bombarded with conflicting information put out by companies and individuals whose main interest is getting you to buy their “miracle weight loss” plan or product.
A Daunting Challenge
Despite the immense size of the diet industry, and the strong social emphasis on thinness, Americans are fatter than ever. I don’t mean to give you the impression that weight loss is impossible, but finding the right program for you can be confusing and challenging.
Do not give up, though, because it is crucial to your health. Being obese or overweight increases your risk for many health conditions, and it can complicate treatment when you are ill.
A Few Weight-Loss Basics
It is probably a good idea to consult your doctor or a nutritionist to design your own approach to weight loss.
- During times of stress on your mind and body, aim for maintenance, not weight reduction. That means you should not try to lose weight during the holiday season, when you are pregnant or when quitting smoking.
- Once and for all, forget about fad diets. I do not care if it is the “balance your carbohydrates on the end of your nose” diet or something more reasonable-sounding. If it requires a radical change in eating habits, it will only work short term, and then you will gain back more than you lost. If the diet sounds too good to be true, it is!
- As a doctor, I know how unhealthy obesity is. I cannot sustain the idea of accepting it as a permanent, unchangeable condition. But many of these “big is beautiful” types of support groups have a solid and valuable underlying premise: Being overweight does not make you a bad person or inferior in any way. The people who judge you because of your appearance are the ones with the problem.
Self-acceptance and self-esteem are important for all of us. If you hate yourself because you are overweight (or any other reason), you may find it eternally impossible to lose weight. It makes sense to work on building self-esteem and addressing the emotional issues of overeating before you launch a weight-loss program.