By Melinda Maryniuk, MEd, RD, CDCES
There is an old Chinese proverb, “There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same.” No matter which route you choose to get there – the scenic path through the forest, the rugged climb up over boulders, or even if you have to take detours– the rewards at the top are the same for everyone. There is no “right” way and there’s no best way. There are simply different ways.
The same can be said for the weight loss journey. We can spend time and energy trying to find the ‘best” way to lose weight. The fastest way to lose weight. The easiest way. The right way. The list goes on – and there are certainly no lack of advertisers, influencers and well-meaning people in our lives trying to direct us to what they think is the best/fastest/easiest. As you continue on the journey to reach your best weight – keep in mind these truths:
There are many different paths to success. A main reason why there are so many approaches to weight loss is that there is no one path that works for everyone. For example, some people do better with tracking calories while others do better minimizing certain foods such as ultra-processed foods or sweets. The key thing to know here is that If you try one plan and it doesn’t work, try another.
It’s about more than diet and exercise. For many people, lifestyle changes alone will not be enough to reach a healthier weight. They need medical treatments (behavioral interventions, medications or surgery) to counter-balance their body’s physiological response to weight loss. Talk to your physician to see if a medical treatment might be helpful for you.
You have to find the path that works for you. Just because a certain approach or diet worked for your friend, or your sister, or a celebrity spokesperson on TV, that doesn’t mean it will work for you. Everyone is different.
The road is not a straight line. Recognize there will be good days, and other days that are harder. There will be bumps, barriers, and detours that have to be navigated. The important part – is to keep on going and don’t let the obstacles get you too far off-course. As psychologist Dr. Dayna Lee-Baggley says, “the key is how quickly we can get back on the wagon.”
Discovering what does not work is a step forward. Maybe you start something with great intention, such as logging everything you eat into a food app, or planning to drink a shake every day at lunch, and you discover it’s much harder than you had expected. Don’t beat yourself up –acknowledge that you learned something important about yourself. Sometimes it means the goal you set for yourself was too difficult. For example, instead of logging every meal, can you log the largest meal of the day? Or just your snacks? Or instead of aiming to have a shake or every lunch, what about 2-3 times a week? Other times, the goal you set for yourself just wasn’t right for your life situation. Maybe lunch is the time you have to decompress from the work day and you want to enjoy a meal. In that case, having a shake for breakfast might be a better fit.
Keep a can-do attitude. Find the positive – and don’t dwell on the negative. Focus on what is going well – what you ARE able to accomplish – no matter how small. When you start to hear negative self-talk chattering in your mind, (I’m no good at this….I’m just a failure at sticking to an eating plan…..I can’t do anything right) – work to replace those words with positivity and focus on what you are doing right, even if it means resetting your goals. (For example, I didn’t get an hour walk in, but I did walk for 20 minutes, and I’m proud of that. I didn’t skip the ice cream at the party as I’d planned, but I only had a small amount – which I’m happy about!)
Have trusted guides. Whether it’s a doctor who specializes in weight management or an experienced dietitian, turn to experts you can trust for reliable information. It’s too easy to get off track (and even get lost!) – so having trustworthy, reliable and trained medical experts really helps. Also hearing from trusted experts about the many different treatments that are available can help you find the path that is going to work for YOU.
In short, there are many different approaches that can help someone reach a healthier weight—it’s a matter of staying patient, being kind to yourself and finding the path that is right for you. For more about that, watch the Facebook Live episode below with Dr. Michael Vallis:
“There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same place, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. The only person wasting time is the one who runs around the mountain telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.” Hindu Proverb.
If you’d like to see a physician who specializes in managing obesity, click here to find a doctor near you. Many physicians offer virtual consultations which makes it easier to get the right care. Just check the physician’s profile to see if virtual visits (via phone or video) are offered.
To sign up for our free online class that covers the basics of how to reach a healthier weight, click here.