The Nation's Health + [weight loss]

Weight loss: The key to losing weight

I saw three people this past week, all of whom set off on an effort to lose substantial quantities of weight. And all seriously needed to.

All three started with at least 70 lbs. excess weight; all showed substantial weight-sensitive lipoprotein patterns like low HDL, small LDL, high triglycerides, VLDL, and pre-diabetic levels of blood sugar. They also all shared high blood pressure.

All three also had high heart scan scores. Kate’s score was just over 1200. Tom, a 58-year old real estate developer, had a score of nearly 600. Susan, the youngest of the three at 52, had a heart scan score of 377¾99th percentile at this age. Losing weight was an absolute requirement for their plaque control program. Because their lipoprotein abnormalities and pre-diabetic patterns were triggered by weight, weight loss would provide powerful correction. Each and every one of them would need to lose much of their excess weight¾at least 50 lbs¾if they hoped to halt the relentless progression of their heart scan scores.

All three of them returned after 6-8 weeks, and all had lost between 17-24 lbs: spectacular results.

There’s no secret to weight loss. Each of them achieved their weight loss in slightly different ways. But they also shared several critical ingredients in their weight-loss efforts:

1) All three dramatically slashed their intake of wheat flour-containing foods and other processed carbohydrates and did so consistently. All also avoided the usual high-fat, high caloric-density foods like butter, margarine, fried foods, greasy foods, nuts roasted in oil, etc. They concentrated on vegetables, salads, raw nuts, lean proteins (inc. turkey, chicken, fish, lean red meats, low-fat cottage cheese and yogurt).

2) They stopped using food as a reward or as a consolation tool.

3) Exercise for one hour a day at least 5 days a week. The exercise in 2 of 3 of these people was just walking. It wasn’t strenuous, it wasn’t expensive. The women both liked walking with friends or their spouse. Tom followed a more common male path of more strenuous work on his treadmill, elliptical, and biking at the fitness club. But they all did it religiously and missed rare sessions.

4) They refrained from any and all alcoholic beverages. Yes, there are some advantages to 1-2 glasses of wine per day, but it stalls weight loss efforts.

5) They didn’t allow themselves any major indiscretions. There were no binges, major pig-outs at weddings, barbecues, or all-you-can-eat buffets. They did allow themselves an occasional “treat” but did so in small portions.

That’s it. But for most people, that’s simply too much. Adhering to an effort to lose dramatic weight requires day-after-day consistency. Nobody can lose the equivalent of 70,000 calories (20 lbs.) just by skipping a meal, a 20-minute walk, skipping the mashed potatoes at dinner.

It can be done. You’ve just got to be consistent about it.