New Year’s Resolutions usually center around health and wellness, getting in shape, drinking less alcohol, quitting smoking, or changing some other not-so-healthy habit. It probably comes as no surprise that “losing weight” makes the top 10 list of most common New Year’s Resolutions every year. While it is a great goal to make for yourself (because you are consciously choosing to improve your own health), the reality is that it is difficult for most of us to keep up the enthusiasm weeks or months down the road.
Unfortunately, losing weight is not a passive process – it is not like getting a massage. You need to actively make the changes in your lifestyle, and let’s face it – change is hard. It takes a lot of cognitive energy to make decisions that are different from your current set of practices. If you see little results for the big effort that you put in, your motivation will start to wane, and it may not wax again until your next cycle of motivation kicks in. Hence, “losing weight” shows up annually on the list of resolutions. However, that is because most of us attempt to achieve our goals alone or set unrealistic, unclear goals. According to a 2007 study from the University of Bristol, women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from friends, families, or health coaches, whereas men succeeded 22% more when they engaged in Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time (S.M.A.R.T.) based goals. Fortunately, there are tools and programs available to help with both – one of which is a medically-supervised weight-loss program.
Medically-supervised weight-loss programs can offer a unique insight into the individual metabolic factors that can influence your weight. By understanding the contributing factors, a better targeted approach can be designed for you. Depending on the level of medical involvement and expertise, an evaluation of your body composition, blood tests, and personal as well as family histories can help identify whether your weight-loss could be slow as a result of a sluggish thyroid, aging process, low muscle mass, menopause, insulin resistance/pre-diabetic state, or something else. With this knowledge, medical providers can design a treatment plan to optimize the effectiveness of your weight-loss and to improve your health outcomes. Obesity is a disease of excess fat, not excess weight, so you want a program that is designed to effectively reduce your body fat and minimize the loss of muscle mass. It is not all about reducing the calories. It is also about minimizing the overeating that triggers fat storage and about the nutritional content of your food.
Medically-supervised weight-loss programs can be more aggressive about the rate of weight-loss compared to commercially available weight-loss programs because of the level of expertise and the ability to assess for safety. Most medically-supervised weight-loss programs offer the use of FDA-approved medications to help suppress the appetite during the weight-loss process. Appetite suppressants can be a helpful tool to reduce the hunger and cravings that make dietary changes a challenge. Keep in mind that it is not a miracle weight-loss drug. If you just take the medication, without making any other changes in your life, there is a good chance you will not lose weight and a guarantee that you will gain the weight back immediately after stopping the medication. However, if you take the medication in conjunction with making behavioral and dietary changes, the weight-loss results can be significant and sustainable for many months to years after you stop the medication. That is because the medication was used as a tool to establish longer lasting lifestyle changes.
So, if “losing weight” is on your list of New Year’s Resolutions this year, and telling your friends and families or setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is not working for you, consider a medical-supervised weight-loss program. Not all medical-supervised weight-loss programs are the same, so make sure you evaluate more than one to find the best fit for you. And the next thing you know, you can cross “losing weight” off your list to make room for more amusing to-dos.