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December 2009 Tip of the Month

Category: General
Preparing for Permanent Weight Loss

New Years resolutions are coming. Again.  Approximately 80% of New Years resolutions are to “lose weight”.  Wouldn’t it be nice to set this years resolution, whatever it is… and achieve it permanently?  For more on the fastest way to permanently lose weight, read more: 


The “fastest way” to permanently lose weight is to amputate… permanent but not desirable. I am joking a bit here.  However, one type of “amputation” is liposuction, which besides the inherent risks involved with any surgery, does nothing to shift the daily habits which cause fat accumulation and retention, and the patient finds themselves in trouble again.  Another “fastest way” is to dehydrate.  Ever hear of the cranberry diet?  (Cranberry is a diuretic… see the July ’09 entry on hydration on our “Free Tips Blog”)  Using rubber suits and sitting in the sauna for extended periods?  Doing cardiovascular exercise at high intensities for long durations sweating out a lot of water weight and not replacing that hydration with non diuretic beverages?  Not smart, not permanent.  A next “fastest way” comes from exercising and dieting in ways that destroy muscle.   For example, if you do your cardiovascular exercise at inappropriate intensities, your body will sacrifice muscle tissue to have the right fuel mixture, thus reducing your body’s future ability to burn fat.  Since a pound of muscle burns between 30 and 50 calories per day just to exist, this is a bad idea.  Diet plans with a caloric intake too low for a person’s starting weight will result in a temporary quick weight loss followed by a rebound of an even higher body weight because of the well known and unavoidable starvation reaction.


So the real goal isn’t weight loss.  The true goal is fat loss, appropriate hydration gain, muscle gain and bone density gain. This is the real “fastest way”.  It is actually common to at first gain weight according to the scale while simultaneously losing inches when on the perfect fat loss regimen for you!  What we’re talking about is easily sustainable body composition improvement.  Doing this involves some work and change:  exercise, stress reduction, eating right and sleeping right.  Not popular with the immediate gratification crowd, I know, but the only way that actually works. 


If you want to lose fat weight for the last time, please consider the following:  It is not safe to lose more than 1% of your body weight in fat per week.  If you weigh 200 pounds, this is a loss of 2 pounds of fat per week.  In practicality, we find it to be more easily sustainable, for reasons beyond the scope of this conversation, to shoot for losing approximately 0.5% per week.  Call me if you want the details on this.  Translation:  there is no quick fix.  What really generates permanent fat loss is creating habit change.  And for that, preparations must be made.


When a skyscraper is being constructed, they spend a lot of time in the hole, working on a strong foundation.  Then seemingly overnight, all the steel is up to the building’s fully intended height.  When painting a house, there is an awful lot of preparatory work to be done before finally gliding on that fresh eye pleasing top coat.  Beforehand there may be the need for power washing, bleach to remove mildew, scraping, wire brushing, replacing rotted trim or siding, caulking, and priming.  The examples from the business world are almost limitless.  Every important venture requires appropriate and significant preparation to succeed. 


I suggest the following preparation to succeed at losing body fat permanently:  These also apply to achieving any New Years resolution of the healthy habit development type.

  1. Get your doctor’s clearance to exercise.  Particularly if you are over age 50 and just beginning to vigorously exercise, or if you are taking any medications which may have an effect on your body’s response to exercise.
  2. Involve other people.  Nobody makes it alone!  Anyone who thinks for a moment will be hard pressed to find any example in their lives when they achieved anything by themselves.  For example, my writing this “Tip of the Month” series depends on Mrs. Fixaris in 3rd grade teaching us sentence structure; Johannes Gutenberg being the first to use movable type printing in 1439; Ben Franklin’s contributions in harnessing electricity; and many, many other people.  Who invented ink?  It’s not a stretch to realize that I don’t even sign my name alone.  Our achievements all stand on the shoulders of many people… why not consciously take advantage of this fact toward achieving our fat loss goals?   Arrange for a buddy system; hire a good personal trainer; find an exercise class suitable to your current physical condition.
  3. Create Accountability.  In management, it’s been said you can expect what you inspect.  Set up this expect/inspect dynamic for yourself:  Click on “Patient Support” and download our free “Accountability Calendar of Progress”.  Fill it out, explain it to your doctor and show it to him/her at each visit.  Explain it to your family members and put it up on a bulletin board at home and your spouse and kids will be glad to hold you accountable.  Same dynamic at your workplace.  Plan to run or walk the same local road race each year with some friends, and you’ll notice that you’ll exercise more year round so that you don’t embarrass yourself.  You’ll also want to do a little better each time.  Picking any annual physical event will do.  One client, a heart patient, picked the annual visit to the summer camp his grandchildren were attending.  The first year, he was at the back of the touring visitors pack.  The next year, he was in the middle of the pack.  All the years after that he was leading the pack!  Join a basketball or volleyball league.  During the off season, you’ll train more diligently than you would have otherwise, just knowing that the next season is coming!
  4. Maintain Self Efficacy.  In working with hundreds of clients over the past 15 years, the leading predictive indicator that any client will succeed in reaching all their wellness goals is if they are updating their “Accountability Calendar of Progress” on a daily basis.  Please use this free download.  (Click on “Patient Support”.)
  5. Stay motivated by knowing what the stakes are.  For most people, losing an appropriate amount of fat weight and reaching their other wellness goals in a sustainable fashion will save millions of dollars over their lifetime.  That’s without getting into the quality of life issues.  For a compelling and more detailed look at this, check out the October ’09 Tip of the Month on “Staying Motivated”.

Obviously if you want an optimal combination of safety and speed in reaching your wellness goals, call me on my cell at 860-983-5676 and we’ll get you started.  For heavens sakes don’t just keep setting the same New Years resolution year after year!


Wellness… works!