Willpower for Wellness
by Isabel Lopez, MD - Medical Director Medi-Weightloss of Southlake
Here we go again! Anyone remember my article last year about making New Year’s resolutions? I said you have to have three things to be successful. You have to have commitment, you have to ease into it and you have to be consistent. So here we are a year later and you are still over your target weight. What happened? Oh! I forgot to mention that you need a little will power. Maybe I need to be a little more specific, read on.
Most people know what the problem is when it comes to their weight. We eat too much and are too inactive. Most people also know they need to eat more protein and less carbs. But let’s be honest, who craves a bag of beef jerky loaded with protein? People crave carbs! It is this craving that sabotages any efforts to make dietary changes. But, why does that happen when you consume carbs? Why doesn’t it happen with beef jerky, or cheese, or eggs? It is because the carbs trigger an instant hormonal response as you are eating them. That hormonal response keeps you hungry for more. So even though you might be committed to losing weight, the lack of will power defeats you.
So what can you do? I recommend you get a physician involved in your transformation. A physician can allow you to have low dose FDA approved appetite suppressant to aid you getting over the initial hurdle of the cravings. The prescription strength appetite suppressant works on the brain in the hypothalamus, to help control hunger. Some appetite suppressants have been around over 50 years and if your current health indicates you are okay to take these medications, it is safe and effective while under the care of an MD. You do not have to be on it long term, but, initially it truly makes a huge difference when trying to break some bad habits. Carbs are addicting for some people. You want them, you crave them, you fight the urge, you cave and have “maybe a little” and then you can’t stop. Afterwards you have remorse; you feel guilty and beat yourself up for not being mentally strong to fight the urge (it’s like I am in your head, isn’t it). Some of you may not be carb addicts but emotional eaters. You get stressed, upset, overwhelmed, emotional and head straight for the pantry. Again, afterwards you are mad at yourself for not being mentally strong (in your head again, right?). You have to break the emotional eating cycle, but that is so much easier said than done. You will be super-duper good for three days at the most and then something will trigger the cycle. You justify it and think “it’s ok because I have been good for a few days now.”
You will never beat the cycle if you don’t stay off of the carbs consistently for an extended period of time, at least 6 weeks, which may sound like an eternity to you carbo-holics. That, my friend, is going to require professional medical help with a weight-loss guru that knows a thing or two and can educate you on foods, car addiction, and emotional eating. The appetite suppressant is a necessary tool for some patients. By working on the brain it gives you the mental strength to fight cravings. It also blunts the cravings significantly. Once you have broken the bad habit it is easier to manage even without the medication.
Some people have been wary of appetite suppressants that have since gone off the market. Fen-Phen had 2 medications and one of them, Fenfluramine, had negative effects on the heart thru its effect on serotonin receptors. However, there are safe and effective weight loss tools that are FDA approved for appetite control. It is not a magic pill but I will say there is something magical that happens when you empower a patient with will power. You may be thinking that having to take an appetite suppressant is a bit extreme, but it’s not. The fact of the matter is childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years and 65 % of adult Americans are overweight or obese. If we don’t do something to help retrain ourselves to eat less they are predicting that 75% of adult Americans will be overweight by the year 2020.
Invest in yourself, commit to a life style change and admit that you need some type of support system. Whether you have 10 pounds or 100 pounds to lose, get started with a weight-loss program that teaches you how to eat, holds you accountable weekly, and gives you the necessary tools you need to be successful this time. Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year.