But Dr. Grimes, YOU don’t have to worry about YOUR weight- you’re tiny! You don’t know what it is like to struggle with your weight.”
Every time I hear this from a patient, I am not sure if I should laugh or cry. While yes, there are some people out there who seem to be able to eat whatever they want and never exercise, and yet stay thin, healthy, gorgeous, rich and let’s throw in perfect in every way (ha!), MOST people who appear healthy make very conscious choices to keep themselves there. As my close friends can attest, I love to eat delicious foods of all categories- nutritious or not.
Unfortunately, after having an exceptionally active metabolism up until age 25, I am now (& have been for over two decades) fully capable of packing on the pounds with the best of them. In my first pregnancy, despite delivering a month early and enduring over seven months of morning sickness that lasted day and night, I was mortified to gain forty pounds. I’m sure eating nonstop pizza & burgers (because nothing else appealed to me) might have had something to do with that…but I digress. The point is that if I do not keep a close eye on my weight, I gain more than I would like. I can lay the blame wherever I would like- blame medications, injuries, stress, or whatever- but that doesn’t change the end result. If I gain weight, I have to lose it the same way everyone else does, by burning more calories than I consume. So what exactly do I do?
1. RECOGNIZE THE PROBLEM- I try to weigh every morning, aware that everyone has a natural up and down flux of a couple pounds. When I hit 3 pounds higher than my average, that’s my ceiling and it’s time to get serious before it gets out of hand. (This may be the most important step. When I skip this step, it’s 5-10 pounds up, which is much tougher!)
2. START WITH A SEVERAL DAY “CLEANSE”- I’m not talking about an enema here! I simply go back to basics and eat ONLY fruits, veggies, and a simple protein (nuts, beans, fish, chicken or lean meat.) I also drink as much water as I can stand (about 6 glasses in a day), and no other beverages. The picture above is my lunch- large portioned, delicious and 90% veggies.
3. RAMP UP MY EXERCISE- for the record, I walk our dogs around two miles per day every day. This is both for the dogs & for me to MAINTAIN my weight. If I need to lose, this is not enough, because this is my baseline- I need “MORE”. I typically add in a second walk or get on the exercise bike for 30 minutes in addition to the daily walk.
4. TRY TO HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS- good weight loss is 1/2-1 pound per week. I am as guilty as the next person that after two days of being “perfect”, I am disappointed when my weight has not miraculously jumped back two or three pounds to baseline. By the end of a week (Mon-Friday) I have typically seen the scale budge at least a half pound, and once I know I am headed back in the right direction, I start to loosen up the diet by allowing some processed foods back in, but at restricted portions. Truth be told, I let in dessert first- but make healthy choices such as some whip cream on strawberries or chocolate syrup on a banana. Next I might bring back corn chips (I’m gluten-free, so less likely to choose cereal, breads, or crackers). I very slowly add in other foods until I am back to my healthy baseline, which includes some high calorie treats ONCE I am back where I want to be.
BOTTOM LINE: Virtually EVERYONE needs to be conscious about their weight and health choices for nutrition and exercise- don’t assume thin people are just “lucky”.