How do we keep excited about losing weight? When a new patient comes to our Clinical Weight Loss practice, they are both excited and nervous. They have attempted many diet plans in the past with some success and many failed attempts. They are leary of a new "program". Is it possible to maintain this early excitement throughout the entire weight loss journey? The answer is Yes, but it's not easy. We must change our thinking and our perspective to keep the enthusiasm going. So How?
First, I let them know that this is not a "program", but a treatment plan for a lifelong disease. We cannot just change our diet and calorie intake for a limited period of time and expect the results to be long lasting. Certainly, the treatment plan includes adjustment to diet and calorie intake. But, if we expect to have both short term body fat reduction along with long-term sustainable weight loss, it takes a lot more than a crash diet to get there. Understanding that they are not at fault in their weight gain, but that they are responsible to correct it is an empowering psychologic message, but they must "get it".
The most important part of our initial time together is discussing "why" at this specific point in time, did you decide to come in to lose weight? Most patients have the standard answers like, "I want to get healthier" or "my doctor says I need to lose weight". There is usually a deeper reason each patient comes to me and sometimes it takes many visits to find out what it is. I believe many of the patients don't even understand the true reason they want to lose weight at the start. If I can assist a patient to uncover the real "Why" they want to get thinner, the excitement can persist. Any time they feel like the enthusiasm is waning, they just have to remember their strong compelling "Why".
Most of us look to our past to see how we want our body to be again. That's not fair to ourselves. Men often say, "when I was in High School I weighed 150 pounds and worked out twice a day when I played sports. Well, I hate to burst their bubble, but a 45 - 50 year old man isn't going to do two-a-day football workouts and will never have the body of a 17 year old again. We need to think about our body of the future. Women tell me the same thing. "When I was in High School, I weighed 110 pounds". I even have some patients who have a picture from their Senior Prom. Yep, they were looking good, but we aren't going back there.
It is possible for a 40, 50, 60, or even 70 year old to have a lean, fit, low body fat % body? Yes! Your new body will look very good but not like the hormone juiced body of a teenager. Even better, you'll have a great looking body with no acne to worry about. Realistically, we can turn back years in our appearance by getting lean and increasing our muscle to fat ratio. The point here is that we must look to the future body we want and not to the past body we had.
So let's talk about that future body. To get it, we must define it. Do we want a thin body, an athletic type body, a muscular body, or a body that is energetic and feels good without the stress of pushing it to the ideal limits? The choice is ours. Let's take a ride in a time machine to see what this fantastic new body will look and feel like.
If we project ourselves into the future, we should be able to picture in our mind the body we want. Sit and close your eyes in a quiet room. Let your mind visualize our body, not as it is, but as we want it. We can see us in our future body doing what we want to do. We are lighter on our feet. We have more energy. Look, there's a big smile on our face. We are wearing a swimsuit at the pool or beach instead of a coverup. We are bounding up the stairs and not slogging to the top, short of breath. We are playing on the floor with our kids or grandkids and don't make groaning sounds as we get up, and we can get up quickly.
This future body appeals to our wife, husband, girl or boyfriend, or puts us back on the dating market with ease. No more spare-tire or folds of skin in places we never expected. We are wearing new clothes that fit like they've been tailored to us. We don't even mind showing just a bit more skin. For some, we're looking a bit "hot". We are congratulated by our friends and co-workers, who are just a bit jealous of our new look. We walk and talk with more confidence and no longer have that lingering self-consciousness about our body.
Our primary Doctor is amazed at the transformation since last year's exam and checkup. Blood pressure is down, blood sugar is ideal, cholesterol and blood fat levels are amazing, and that recurrent back ache is a thing of the past. The doctor decides that some of the medications you were on are no longer needed and gives you a superior bill of health. And speaking of "bills", your medical costs are going down, down, down.
This future body sleeps better and feels more refreshed on awakening. There is less fatigue and tiredness at the end of the day. Your bowels work better and more regularly, and the snoring, and the leaky bladder are much improved if not resolved. Those things you thought and were told are a normal part of aging are now gone.
At this point you don't mind when someone pulls out their cell phone and starts snapping photos. You're happy to be in the frame and don't hide behind someone else for the picture. Now, when you fly on a plane or go to a ballgame, you don't feel uncomfortable in the seat. You've got extra room and enjoy the activity much more.
Every day before, you constantly fought your weight and had a portion of your brain reserved 24/7 to think about this weight struggle. This new future body is freeing. You can focus more on your family, your job, your social life, and your new future. You have treated this disease and put it into remission. You are certainly aware that this treatment is ongoing and that if you fall back to your earlier ways that the syndrome will return. That's not a heavy burden because you know now how to conquer the beast.
This ride into the future has shown you the body you want and the body you deserve. It's shown you how you can live the rest of your lengthened life. The future will come no matter what we do. Five years from now will be here sooner than we think and we can continue down our current path, or we can make the changes and get the treatment that will correct and re-plot our trajectory in life. We are never too old to change. We are never too old to learn. Unfortunately, we are never too young to delay. The time to create our future and to create the body we want is now.
If you took this journey to the future while reading this, great. If not, do this mental exercise. When you can really see the body you want to have, imagine what it will be like, feel what it will be like, and mentally live in that new and improved body. After you open your eyes, write down all the things you saw, you did, and you wanted during the experience. Keep those written reasons for changing near you at all times. Look at them often and repeat the mental visualization often.
The excitement of starting this treatment plan can be with you each and every day when you look to the future with a positive and hopeful mind. When we truly understand what our body can be like, feel like, and look like and want it badly enough, we will be living in the solution and not in the problem. The future is coming, like it or not. To end with a Cliche, Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. Let's Get started on this new path.