It’s part of our human DNA to put things into a system to accomplish tasks more efficiently and more abundantly.  We all use systems and don’t even know it.  When we get up in the morning, most people have a system about how they get started for the day.  We like order and continuity.  Our work operates with systems in place.  School and education has systems in place.      

Our world is built with natural systems in place.  If systems work and it’s our natural tendencies to employ them, then why do we often work so hard to stray from the very systems that make life easier and success more attainable?  I’ll give an example.  At our weight loss clinic we have a treatment system that we utilize to help our patients lose weight, learn new habits, and stay on track.  Many patients follow the system to the letter and the weight falls off steadily over time.      

Then there are many patients that stay on the system for a while, have significant weight loss success and then drift away from the system.  Weight loss stops and in some they begin to gain weight.  They start to blame the treatment or the eating program.  “This isn’t working anymore”.   When questioned, however, I find that they are not working the system anymore.  They believe they are and some believe that they know enough and have had enough weight loss experience that they can do this on their system.  The problem is, their system created the overweight problem to begin with.      

When a patient’s hormone or metabolic dysfunction has been addressed, they should lose weight steadily as long as they are on the system.  There are metabolic and hormone issues that can push us off of the system.  If thyroid levels are low or cortisol levels are high our internal body systems tell us to eat more and store more fat.  When we have insulin resistance and we have to produce more insulin to keep our blood sugars in a normal range, we are more hungry and it’s easier to break from the system.      

When we are under stress, we produce hormones and brain transmitters that can make us hungry and stray from the system.  Behavioral patterns developed over our lives fight our ability to stay on the weight loss system.  There are many factors that make staying on system difficult if not impossible at times.  Because of all these system busting factors, weight reduction and weight loss maintenance can be very difficult.      

What do we do to improve our ability to stay on a weight loss system long enough to develop new habits and new systems that work for us for a lifetime?First, we must stop thinking that losing weight is just about willpower and discipline.  Certainly our ability to stay the course is important, but we must evaluate and treat the underlying problems that can force us off course.      

We must follow a system that allows for eating of quality nutrition at regular intervals, but maintains a reduction in calories and carbohydrates.  Going on a dietary regimen that is too rigid and eliminates a lot of foods is destined to fail.  Nearly all people who try to eliminate carbs from their diet will not be able to go the distance and will not maintain this regimen for a lifetime.        

A nutritional system that provides fuel for our body throughout the day and tastes good will help us to stay on system.  We cannot starve our body and expect to lose weight for very long.  This is also a very painful and not very healthy way to drop excess body fat.  In fact, when we reduce calories too much, our body goes into defense mode and protects itself from losing weight.      

We must set up an exercise system that allows us to gradually and methodically increase our physical activity to the point where our body is enhancing it’s fuel burning efficiency.  This takes time.  This takes a system.   Most people who begin an exercise plan start out too fast and too hard and by the end of week one or two have developed aches, pains, and strains that put them on the sideline.  Again, we won’t stay with something that is painful.      

Patience is a big player in maintaining an exercise routine.  It’s critical to give the body time to change.  Maintaining body weight is a normal defense mechanism.  Losing body weight signals a problem to our body.  We must gradually increase our exercise to allow our body to change slowly so to not kick in any defense mechanisms.   We get excited and exercise too hard, too long, and too fast at the beginning.      

Schedule with a Doctor who understands and has extra training in the treatment of body weight issues.  Certain blood tests that are done in a regular primary care office are not complete enough to determine some metabolic and hormonal issues that affect our body weight.  Checking for hormone imbalances and metabolic dysfunctions that contribute to weight gain are usually not part of an annual physical examination and blood testing.      

I have many patients who have underactive thyroid function, menopausal hormone depletion, male aging hormone loss, insulin resistance, or another hormone imbalance.  These patients struggle with weight reduction and are typically told by their doctor that it’s normal to gain weight with aging.  Correcting any imbalance is critical to seeing steady weight reduction.      

Another group of factors that work to drive us off a system are psychological factors.  If we have perfectionist tendencies, we will struggle to stay on a systematic treatment plan.  If we struggle with internal control or discomfort of calorie reduction, we will wander off the system.  If we have deep psychological reasons to keep our body weight up, failure to lose weight is common.  There are several psychological factors that can take us off course and these need to be evaluated and addressed  before weight reduction can be consistent and sustainable.      

By addressing the factors that can make us stray from a straight forward, proven system to lose weight and correcting these factors, we can see body weight reduction week after week without pain or struggle.      

Take Aways:     

1.  Find a complete weight loss system that focuses on all five components of long term weight reduction and weight maintenance     

2.  Work with the doctor and coaches to stay on system                                             

3.  Be able to accept that you don’t have the answers to losing weight and trust the expert.     

4.  Be patient and give your body time to develop its own internal new systems.       

5.  When things aren’t working as expected, check first to see if you are staying. On system and discuss with your doctor what may be moving you off system.      

When we understand that our weight problem is a complex disease process and we cannot beat it by just going on the most advertised Diet, we can gain control of our body and direct it on the path to becoming thin for the rest of our lives.  Make sure to Systematize your treatment plan.