By Kim DeMattia, Madeleine Ortiz and Melinda Maryniuk
Since we launched this resource, we’ve had the pleasure and privilege of learning about obesity and excess weight from medical experts across North America. We’ve also learned a TON from the people in our amazing Facebook support group, “Personal Health Revolution” about what’s helped them be successful. Here are our top 10 takeaways!
1. Recognize that Obesity/ excess weight is a chronic medical condition.
Weight management is more complicated than people realize. Don’t blame yourself. Many doctors are trained experts in weight management. There are also medicines that can help.
What we heard from many specialists: “If you struggle with weight, seek professional, medical help.”
2. Set realistic goals.
Small, achievable goals are the way to go. Set yourself up for success. Keep the principles of the 80-20 rules in mind… aiming for the healthiest of choices 80% of the time while allowing a little room for special treats.
Wisdom from a person in our Facebook group: “I aim to eat an apple before each meal”
3. Your space matters.
Our environments can contribute to unhealthy habits, and that is why it’s important to pay attention to your surroundings. Set up your home so that healthier foods are at eye level, stop to notice if your snacking or drinking more often with certain people, or if your drive home is laden with fast food temptation, take a different way home.
Insight from a dietitian: “Scan your surroundings and notice where there may be some cues that trigger you to eat. Make a list of how you can change your environment to remove temptation.”
4. Be an intuitive, mindful eater.
Focus less on a specific diet or calorie level and more on making healthy choices, paying attention to hunger cues, and avoiding distractions so eating can be intentional… and pleasurable!
From a member of our Facebook group… “I don’t look at what I do as diet at all. I eat healthy foods, I do not emotionally eat (and honestly that seems to be the biggest achievement) and the other BIG thing is, I eat before I get hungry ( I swear to God this is the ticket to success).”
5. Talk to your doctor.
Talking to your doctor about excess weight can be difficult or even awkward to bring up, but it’s important. There are treatment options available besides diet and exercise. Work with your doctor to find the individualized treatment plan that will help you reach your goals.
One physician says, “Patients need to acknowledge that this is a whole area of medicine available to them. And I think it’s vital for a patient to understand that you can treat your disease any way you want to. It’s your body. You only get one. However you want to go about it, you go for it. But make an informed decision.”
From a member of our Facebook group: “I had my appointment with my new family doctor this morning. Following last night’s live session, I was motivated to ask him for help with my obesity. I explained that I took responsibility for my health but felt I needed a boost. He has referred me to an endocrinologist to get a second opinion and I am now have a positive outlook. The discussion was easy since we had a blank slate. I didn’t sense any doubt or judgement from him. Do not give up hope!”
6. Practice positive self-talk.
Be kind to yourself. Recognize the importance of eliminating those negative thoughts. Work to eliminate those feelings of guilt and self-blame, as they can be so destructive. Think about what you can do, instead of focusing on what is hard.
From a member of our Facebook group: “I like to think in small steps. My next choice can be healthier”. “I think I can… I think I can.”
From a member of our Facebook group: “I am neither on a diet nor a journey, because I do not allow myself to think about a long term. I think about success on a daily basis, which is also maybe why I get discouraged but NOT enough to give up, when I hit plateaus. “
7. Take advantage of a supportive community. (Join our Facebook group here.)
Research shows that ongoing support is an important element to successful weight loss and maintenance. Success with weight loss and weight maintenance is hard to do alone.
From a member of our Facebook group: “I am grateful for the support of this group and Maddie’s responses always cheer me on. One of the first things I do each day is to touch base with this group.”
From a member of our Facebook group: “Emotional eating is a daily struggle. Can I get some suggestions for some of the stress management tools that you all use? I appreciate this group!”
8. There is no one best diet. Different approaches work for different people.
Experts all agree that there is no preferred “diet”. Eating healthy, whole foods with an approach you can sustain and enjoy for the rest of your life is the key.
Insight from a dietitian: “The best diet is one that you can stick too”
9. Being active is the best thing you can do for your overall health.
Aim for at least 150-200 minutes of activity a week, but remember that it can be in frequent small bouts. Three 10 minute sessions of activity (alternating between aerobic exercise, like brisk walking and resistance exercises, like using resistance bands or gentle weights can help).
From a member of our Facebook group: “I truly enjoy exercise! It’s like a place to vent all your negative energies and come out feeling great!
From a member of our Facebook group: “I work out as much as possible. But I also think it is important to take time to BREATHE”.
From a member of our Facebook group: “Since losing weight, exercise has become a joy for my body and soul… I never thought I would enjoy it so much.”
10. Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep!
It’s true what they say, 7-8 hours of sleep is linked with successful weight management.
From a member of our Facebook group: Sleep is so important– I feel miserable without it and I know I make worse choices across the board without getting enough of it. It’s so hard to make myself go to sleep at night though!
From a member of our Facebook group: “I’m going to set an alarm for 30 minutes before my “bedtime” each night so the time doesn’t slip away from me in the evenings!”
To find a weight management physician in the United States near you, click here.
To find a weight management physician in Canada near you, click here.