DR. HOOK- Weight loss II: Slow it down and get it down
Margaret Cho is a Korean comedian who is so on my radar now. I met her in the '90s at an award show in L.A. (ah, those were the days when I lived in Tinseltown).
I told her how sad I was that other Koreans were insulting her and her TV show, All American Girl. I was post-call from the ICU, so I was really tired. So I think I just blabbed blabbed blabbed, and she kept puffing on her cigarette in hopes that I would shut-up. So I put my tail between my legs and walked away.
Thirteen years later, I just watched her two stand-up shows on DVD. Wow, she is actually really funny! (All American Girl was not funny.) She talks a lot about her weight and her struggles to lose it. I don't totally agree with everything she says, but I do agree that she might not be destined to wear a size 4 dress.
So is losing weight for most people about fitting in a size 4 dress?
A lot of people give up on losing weight due to a "False Hope Syndrome." In our immediate gratification world, we expect results—pronto! Unrealistic results are usually the kiss of death. "What, I'm only a size 8 dress after all this work? Forget it! Give me a double with cheese and fries. I'll pay you with my treadmill."
Also some people think losing weight will make them more attractive, more interesting, and help them find the Holy Grail. When they embark on the difficult journey to lose weight (yes, let's admit it, losing weight and keeping it off is hard work), they get miffed when things don't turn out great like the ending of Pretty Woman.
So individual and/or group therapy can be extremely useful. The support and encouragement can help a person modify their lifestyles that contributed to being overweight/obese.
In the spirit of support, including family members and friends increases a person's chances at success in losing weight. The #1 complaint I get from my patients is, "I have no one to walk with." #2 is "My family hates healthy, smaller portioned meals." Hillary Clinton is right: It Takes a Village.
Environmental factors that lead to over-eating need to be modified or plain ole eliminated. Let's face it, if you have cupcakes in the house for others to eat, you are going to make that midnight trip to the kitchen (and you don't need Ambien to do that). Easy-to-prepare foods that are low in calories make life easier. The house should be filled with fresh fruits and veggies.
Food should be enjoyed... and eaten slowly. It amazes me how many people I see eat fattening foods while driving. Avoid watching TV or reading while eating. Getting up in the middle of the meal can help a person feel sated because the slower a person eats, the fuller they tend to feel. Drinking water between bites can help as well.
Party! Buffet! Oh, Dear! A plan needs to be made so you don't end up eating the left-over sausage in the pot (I just saw that at a Labor Day Weekend party). Like making choices to not smoke or not drink too much, a person can make choices about how they eat. Also group therapy can help a person learn to say, "No, thank you."
Emotional and stress eating are very common. Therapy can be extremely useful in addressing this. If the mind isn't in the right place, the change in lifestyle isn't going to happen.
As Margaret Cho points out, a person's weight has little to do with their beauty and worth. I agree. I look at food and physical activity as essential components to good health. After all, I am an All American Doctor.
Dr. Hook cracks a joke or two, but he's a renowned physician with a local practice. Email him with your questions.