The Ugly Beginnings of a Successful Weight Loss Story:
Doctors are human too, and there came a time when one of them (myself) had to face an ugly reality: She was... well, fat. In medical terms: Significantly overweight.
The struggle that ensued lasted approximately 18 months, and the experiences derived from it are shared on this site. It is my hope they will be helpful to others in their endeavor to control excessive weight.
Here's a brief overview of my journey - the before and after...
This was me before...
Female physician, age 31
Specialty: Internal Medicine
Schedule: 70 hours per week (on average)
Mood: Irritable, sleep-deprived, stressed out to
Lifestyle: Sedentary except job activities
Eating habits: Compulsive eater
Weight Status: Roughly 50 pounds overweight
Weight Trend: Increasing rapidly
Picture: Too embarrassed to show. Click image
if you must.
And this was me 6 months later:
Same grueling schedule
Eating habits: Compulsive dieter
Mood: Better, anyway!
Lifestyle: 1 hour physical activity per day (strength
training and aerobics)
Weight Status: Roughly 50 pounds lighter
Picture: See for yourself!
Bottom line: Reasonably fit, but with plenty of effort.
QUESTION: Is it worth the effort?
Over the next year, I struggled with that question. Weight control became an obsession. I counted my calories, endured hunger, took appetite suppressants,
over-exercised, spent a fortune on workout equipment, weighed myself twice
a day and felt depressed whenever the scale showed one pound more.
In short, I lived and breathed weight control. Of course, I managed to maintain my weight, and even lost a few more pounds. Perhaps too many pounds. But each pound lost was a milestone, and gaining it back felt like failure. I was careful to take multi-vitamins and various mineral supplements, so as to avert the full brunt of this rapid weight loss. Still, this lifestyle was exhausting. Coupled with the demands of my job, it took all my time and effort. Finally, I mustered the courage (or exasperation) to draw the conclusion: "This isn't worth it!"
But drawing the conclusion didn't equal taking the right steps, and for the next few months I continued to be addicted to fitness. Then, relief came in an unexpected form: A knee injury. Workout-related, of course. This was the final wake-up call that changed things. Beyond threatening my fitness goals, it put my job in danger. For the next month, I hopped around my office on a crutch, and had about 25 patients ask me each day, with a puzzled look: "What happened to you, doc?"
It was during this forcible fitness break that I made a major breakthrough: I managed to ask myself the right questions, and finally set the right goal. This goal was simple, although ambitious:
|Maintain top shape with minimum time commitment and maximum enjoyment of life.
In short, the best of both worlds. But, was it doable?
Keeping this goal in mind, here are the questions I asked myself:
- What kind of exercise do I need, and how much of it?
- What exercise should I avoid?
- What kind of food can I eat, and how much of it?
- What foods should I avoid?
- What other methods of weight control are there, other than diet and exercise?
- How do I keep my weight loss program safe?
- What is a reasonable time-expectation for meeting my goals?
- What else do I need to know to maximize my chances of success, and how do I use this information to tip the scale in my favor (literally)?
- What mistakes should I beware of?
Once these questions were properly answered, and the answers properly applied, weight management became effortless - just another part of my daily life.
Roughly 18 months after embarking on my weight loss journey, I had mastered the basics of what I now call the "art of weight control", or the "art of fitness". In short,this "art" is the proper balance of eating, sleeping, exercising, in a word living, such that weight control becomes a seamless part of your life.
At this point, I should probably talk about the fundamental law of weight control.
This law is simple, but quite important to understand. Here it is:
|Calorie Intake - Calorie Output = Change in Body Weight
It's important to understand this law cannot be broken. However, it can be "tweaked" and manipulated to your advantage. In fact, all weight control methods available (be it dieting, exercising, taking weight loss medication or having your stomach stapled) work by manipulating this law one way or another.
But more about this later. For now, the point I want to drive home is this: It's absolutely necessary to acquire the information that allows you to manipulate this law safely and effectively. Without this, any weight control effort is doomed to fail long-term, leaving you confused and wondering what you did wrong.
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The Conclusion of my Weight Loss Story
To finish the account of my weight loss journey: I am now 40, and have managed to maintain my weight and form for the past 9 years. A large part of this time was spent working a hectic schedule, which allowed minimal time for physical conditioning. As such, I relied mainly on short intervals of strenght training done once or twice a day, several days a week, to maintain adequate physical fitness. Other than walking (and taking every chance I get to climb stairs), I don't do any aerobic exercise. In the long run, my abbreviated strength training regimen has proven excellent for maintaining good muscle tone and proper weight control.
Nutrition-wise, I eat what I want (in moderation), and never deny myself any dish I crave. Bottom line: I'm able to enjoy life without any significant sacrifices to fitness. I have become an expert at tweaking the laws of weight control, and this perhaps the single greatest asset I have gained in this regard.
In the meantime obesity, the most preventable condition of them all, is still the most common disease I have encountered, in my medical practice and overall in the world around me. Information on how to fight back is invaluable. Therefore I want to share it on this site.
The content of this site represents my personal views about weight control, based on my own experiences and interpretation of the medical and non-medical literature pertaining to the topic. The reader is hereby asked not to interpret any of it as personal medical advice, but rather to filter it through his or her own decision-making process.
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