Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Weight Loss May Require "Hitting Bottom"

 I was talking to one of my patients today about her impressive weight loss: 150 pounds in 13 months, now maintained for nearly three years.

How did she do it?

Through the time honored method of good nutrition, portion control, and a new commitment to physical exercise. She did employ a personal trainer, but now uses soccer and weight training as her mainstays.

We talked about readiness for weight loss. There came for her a time when she was simply ready to make the necessary changes. Readiness came on its own timetable. But when she "hit bottom," there was no going back!

I remember my own "hitting bottom" with obesity. Ten years ago, when I was nearly fifty pounds overweight, I tripped on a curb cut--falling with arms outstreached and landing on my knees. Nothing broke, thankfully. But the startling thing to me was that I was standing next to my tiny little Mother, then a mere eighty-two!

Had I landed on her, I would have broken her little body! It occurred to me then how mortified I would have been if I had to confess that my Mom had suffered a hip fracture because I crushed her!

That was my "Come to Jesus" moment!

I signed up for Weight Watchers...again. But this time, I added the critical component of physical exercise. I was astonished that I loved the exercise: working out at the gym, taking spinning classes, and my all-time favorite: rowing--in a 12" by 27' single shell at the Lake Washington Rowing Club.

My patient and I reviewed the important ingredients in our different programs:
  • Taking a realistic view of what has to be done
  • Understanding why we are doing a weight loss program: that might be health reasons, it might be fitting in an airplane seat without an extension, it might be the horror of nearly falling on an osteoporotic mother who surely would have been injured on impact!
  • Supporting ourselves with excellent self-care measures
  • Recognizing that an injury or other circumstance that necessitates a "detour" also requires a mental reset: It's not back to the old way anymore!
  • An understanding that there are a thousand helpful tricks to keep us on track.
  • Excercise is a non-negotiable requirement.
As a doctor, I've seen far too many people lose 30-40 pounds for a prom dress -- only to gain it back if exercise isn't in the mix.
Let's face it, we're not doing this for a prom dress anymore!

So congratulations to my wonderful patient; she'll receive lifelong rewards as she sidesteps the diabetes that runs in her family. What a great example for us all.

Take care. Linda Gromko, MD

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