For about thirty years, now, I have been treating people with weight control problems. This is a lot of folks. Thousands. I started treating this health problem as a dietitian before going to medical school. In fact, one of my reasons for going to medical school was to continue my nutrition education in more depth and to eventually teach physicians about nutrition. For the last twenty years or so, other physicians have been referring their most difficult nutritional problems to me. One memorable gentleman weighed close to a thousand pounds (you read it right, 1,000)! These are some tough, tough problems! They are probably the toughest I deal with as a physician, and I deal with almost every kind medical problem you can imagine. I have followed and treated some of my overweight patients for their weight problems the whole time I have been in Albany – over twenty years.
My undergraduate degree is from Drexel University (Philadelphia) in Nutrition Science. Drexel was one of the best nutrition programs in the country back then, (probably still is). A nutrition science background gave me a solid foundation to what has been a major focus for my career as a physician. I treat all kinds of nutritional problems, many suffer from malnutrition due to illness, but most of my nutritional patients come to me due to the medical consequences of being overweight. Far and away the most effective (and most cost-effective) way to treat these problems, as well as prevent many future problems, is to treat the weight problem instead of primarily focusing on diabetes, arthritis, sleep apnea, etc. that result (Too bad I can’t get insurance companies to understand this). I keep up with what is written in medical journals about weight control, what other physicians have found to be helpful and the current “hot” programs and fads being widely promoted and used (always looking for additional useful treatments). This is all to say that when I write to you about weight control issues, I have both the theoretical background and the extensive experience to know what I am saying is reliable. I am planning to distill all this into articles so I can make this accumulated knowledge available to everyone who might benefit.
My first idea about how to manage such a huge topic (no pun intended ;-)) was to write an extended monograph and place it as a page on this blog. But then I got to thinking: this topic applies to just about everyone. Quite a few people already are struggling with their weight and just about everyone else has someone they care about fighting this battle. I decided to place a new category on this blog entitled: Dealing with overweight. It may take a while to complete even a cursory overview in this fashion (months?), but I think many will benefit. I will try to order the topics addressed by starting with those that apply to everyone and later begin to address specific issues for certain subgroups.
Here is the first little tidbit I want to emphasize:
- For almost everyone with a tendency to be overweight, this is a life-long issue.
(This should be obvious, right? Why am I emphasizing it?) This means that any temporary strategy, using drastic weight loss methods, is useless for long-term weight management unless it is followed by a permanently effective, practical, maintenance program. A closely related observation is that the same efforts that successfully result in weight loss almost always need to be continued once the target weight is reached. Otherwise, the weight usually goes up much faster than it went down! In light of this, many weight loss strategies are not only a big waste of money, they can actually be harmful. The result of drastic, short-term weight programs, if they work at all (many do, in the short-term), is rapid weight loss followed by rapid weight gain within a few months of quitting the program. Almost always, after this scenario, the final weight is higher than before the start of the program or strategy. In addition, the participant is often more discouraged than ever!
Unless your weight loss goal is short-term, like losing weight to get into a smaller dress size for a wedding in a few months, applying this insight will immediately eliminate from consideration almost every program, fad and weight loss promotion out there at any given time. Begin your evaluation of any technique by looking long and hard at the long-term maintenance strategy, asking: Can I afford this the rest of my life and is it a practical way to live as a permanent life style? If there is no answer at first glance, find the answer or trash the plans to use it. Of course, if it does have a maintenance plan included, this does not necessarily mean it will work, it just means it has passed your first test. I am writing this series of articles to teach you how to take the next step in this evaluation. I wish I had the time available to put all this out to you quickly, but you will have to be patient for now.
Let me know if this topic is important to you, I will take this into account as I prioritize future articles. The backlog of articles I have planned and which others have requested is growing rapidly!
My best wishes for vibrant good health to all!