With the New Year upon us, many have started their weight loss program with enthusiasm and full intention. Psychology Today reports that studies show while the first two weeks are usually encouraging, by February people start sliding back in to sedentary habits… and by the following December, most of us are back to where we started.
So what are the secrets to a successful weight loss plan? To answer that question, I sat down with Dr. Dan Olesnicky of Executive Wellness in Indian Wells. He recommends creating an educated game plan, selecting a diet that works for your body and lifestyle, and having an ongoing weight maintenance plan to follow.
The first step is to make sure you are ready to commit. “We won’t start anyone on a program who isn’t ready. There is no quick fix and you must be willing to make serious lifestyle adjustments.”
The next step is to establish an educated game plan that includes knowing where your body is metabolically. He adds that many people will feel ready to start a diet and will faithfully stick to it, but just can’t seem to lose the weight. “If this is the case, chances are that something is out of whack hormonally. By correcting the hormonal imbalance, you can shed the weight by adhering to the diet.”
Olesnicky recommends running blood, hormone and genetic testing to help establish a baseline and determine what is happening with your body metabolically. Are you possibly insulin resistant? Is it hormone growth failure? Are you a man in andropause or a woman in perimenopause? Starting with accurate data will increase your success rate and help you to make choices more wisely. “It’s nice to be able to tell patients who have failed at dieting that it’s not their fault.”
Next, determine the plan that will work for your body and lifestyle. I asked Olesnicky his thoughts on all the new weight loss technology on the market. “There is no quick fix. The oldest technology – and still the best – is diet and exercise.”
Selecting a diet that fits your lifestyle is the most important element. “We have a dozen different types of diets based on lifestyle and goals. If someone is a meat eater, we may recommend Atkins or Paleo. For fast food junkies, we encourage skipping the bun and french fries and opting for one of the healthier sides now offered.” Your diet needs to be realistic for you. A simple first step is moving away from carbs and refined sugar, and towards proteins and low glycemic index foods such as berries.
With exercise, Olesnicky says, don’t forget the ‘thermal advantage.’ One of the best exercises for weight loss is swimming. In addition to the calories burned through exercise, your body is burning calories to maintain your body temperature. He notes that Michael Phelps consumes an average of 12,000 calories a day. And while he may expend 3,000 calories with the act of swimming, the large majority of those calories are expended maintaining his body temp in an 82 degree pool. “If you swim, reduce the temp of your pool slightly, and you may see weight loss more quickly.”
Olesnicky adds that the best use of the new technology on the market is to further sculpt the body once you get close to a desired weight. “We may use the Zerona (cold laser) or Exilis (radiofrequency heat) to assist in reshaping trouble spots on patients who are close to their desired weight as we find these technologies very effective for such use.”
He recommends that while on a weight loss program, you check in with your doctor or health care practitioner at least once a week, preferably three, as motivation is very important.
Once you have achieved your desired weight (after a minimum of 12 weeks), maintenance is key. If you have chosen a diet that meets your lifestyle, hopefully that way of eating can become your new lifestyle. High quality foods and high quality supplements, even if it’s only a daily multivitamin, will better meet your body’s needs. “Processed foods are so nutritionally void of the nutrients your body is craving, it forces us to overeat. Spending the time and money to cook your own high quality food will save you from weight gain in the long run.”
“Make sure you have a support group or system in place to help keep the ‘new you’ on track.” A well thought out maintenance plan will ensure success tomorrow and in the many healthy years to follow.