Thursday, September 24, 2015

Weight-Loss Programmes

We've had a couple of very inspiring stories in a facebook group of which I'm a member, about people who've loss a great deal of weight through numerous weight-loss programmes. These are people who've been struggling with weight issues for a long time, and now reaping the benefits after spending months and years shedding the pounds. It's very reassuring for fat and obese people to know that it's not impossible to lose weight if they really want to.

We've all seen reality TV shows like The Biggest Loser in which seemingly hopeless cases of obesity are proven to be not so hopeless after all. People can in fact lose weight—a great deal of weight—if they really want to. However, I notice that even from among the participants of The Biggest Loser, many of them would regain all those weight that they've lost.

I say without shame that I come from a fat family—most of my family members are fat and obese. Let me tell you that it's very tempting to blame it on genetics; and I dare say that there is probably some truth in the genetic factor too. When you love food, you just love food; it's not so simple to suddenly wake up one fine day and decide to refrain from eating for the rest of your life! I think this is where most weight-loss programmes fail to deal with the actual problem. 

My view is that a sure-bet method to lose weight is by setting short-term realistic targets. Say to lose just half a pound in a week, something like that. Never mind about what happens next week, or in a month or half a year. Just focus on that week, and that week alone. And then the next week is a brandnew start. One step at a time is the way to go. From my own experience, that approach very rarely will fail. Sooner or later—it may by months or years later—one is bound to reach the target weight. 

But what happens beyond that?

Most fat and obese people see the destination towards a healthy body weight as a fixed target, much the same way they set their mind on the finish line of a marathon race. But very few of them would actually see what lies beyond that finish line.

Truth be told, the journey of weight management doesn't end at that "finish line". Far from it, it has no finish line at all. I think if a weight-loss programme doesn't account for this particular detail, it is bound to end up a failure in the long run. For after losing the unwanted excess weight, it is much harder to maintain the resulting weight.

I read with interest what was shared in the so-called "weight-loss success stories", and I found something common in most of them. Among the most popular ones are to abstain from eating rice or carbohydrates in general, avoid sugar and salt, avoid snacks, tidbits and ice creams, avoid carbonated drinks and any other foods high in calories. No fast foods like KFC and McDonald's. In fact, to sum it all up, avoid all the tasty stuff in life!

I have witnessed close friends losing tons of weight by adopting the above approach, and while I congratulated them for their achievement, I told them that it won't last. And true enough, in most cases, their "success stories" did not last.

Maybe some people can suppress their cravings for the rest of their lives. But I believe that the vast majority can't. May I repeat, if you love food, you just love food; there is almost nothing you can do about it. You can only pretend to dislike food for a limited time. Yes, you can control your cravings for a few weeks, maybe a few months, maybe even a year or two. But sooner or later, the real you would emerge to re-take the driver's seat.

That is why in my efforts to maintain my body weight, I have never adopted the approach of depriving myself from the foods that I like to eat. I'd adopt a more realistic approach, which is to allow myself to indulge in the foods that I like, but to control the portions. I have "cheat days" or "diet holidays" too. I give myself a break every now and then, because I know that if I deprive myself for far too long, I would become like a time bomb. Sooner or later I will explode with severe consequences. At the same time, I keep myself active in sports. I readily admit that I don't have it in me to abstain from the foods that I enjoy; at least not for a very long time. If that is seen as a weakness, then so be it—I am weak!

Losing and then maintaining healthy body weight is doable. But it's not as simple as just telling fat people not to eat fatty stuff; or to exercise frequently. They probably know that already anyway. Instead, tell them the realistic approach of how to deal with the problem. Don't expect to drop weights like in The Biggest Loser. It could be done, yes, but that's not realistic, even though it's reality TV show.

No comments: