A common refrain I hear from patients is, “Dr. Kushner, I know what to do to lose weight, I am a smart person. I just can’t seem to do it and stick with it!”
I typically respond to them by making an analogy to coaching. Elite athletes, musicians and dancers know what to do, but many have coaches to provide perspective, motivation, and ‘fine tuning’ to hone their talent, stay focused and achieve greater success.
Even in business, coaches help top executives who are smart and know what to do, better follow through and manage their companies.
I view weight management in a similar way.
Consider yourself the chief executive officer (CEO) of your weight and health. However, instead of coaches to provide additional guidance and support, there is a myriad of other resources available depending upon your individual need.
This is an area where personalization is important. Some of you may benefit from seeing one additional team member whereas someone else may need two or three to help them achieve lasting success.
I call visits with other weight management team members ‘touch points’ to keep you on track.
Here are some available ‘TOUCH POINTS’, should you ever need them:
1-Dietary Guidance ‘Touch Point’
The foundation of weight loss and overall health is following a healthy diet. That is why meeting face-to-face (in-person or telehealth) with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) can give you personalized advice on diet, nutrition and meal planning.
This doesn’t have to be a long-term relationship; even just a few visits can redirect you onto the right path.
2-Physical Activity ‘Touch Point’
Many people trying to lose weight have limited experience and confidence in exercising, some fear injuring themselves and still others need more motivation to get started or keep going.
You can think of hiring a personal fitness trainer as your coach to either get you started on the right track or to help advance your program.
You can find a certified personal trainer at almost any fitness facility. Before your first session, be sure to have a full discussion of what your goals are and your overall health.
Another useful resource to consider may be a physical therapist if you are suffering from a musculoskeletal injury that is impairing your ability to be physically active.
If you’re unsure whether or not you qualify for physical therapy, many therapy companies offer a free half-hour screening visit where you can meet with a therapist (without needing a doctor’s order) and receive information on your condition.
3-Psychological Counseling ‘Touch Point’
When life stressors, mental health or emotional issues, such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, poor body image or low self-esteem are getting in the way of your self-care and weight management program, a health psychologist can give you supportive guidance.
By using treatment strategies such as cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance-based therapy, the health psychologist is able to address the behaviors and thoughts that undermine your program and have been holding you back from feeling good and reaching your goals.
You can ask your primary care provider for a referral or check for psychologists or social workers that are listed on your insurance health plan.
4-Obesity Medicine Specialist ‘Touch Point’
Obesity medicine specialists certified in obesity management is a new and growing area of specialization for physicians.
Obesity medicine specialists can help to more thoroughly review how your weight history, family history, medical history, lifestyle behaviors, current medications and labs may be influencing your weight and risk factors and make targeted recommendations for treatment.
Battling an increased appetite is one of the most significant challenges to weight loss and keeping the weight off long-term. If you are experiencing these sensations, anti-obesity medications can be a helpful addition to your weight loss plan. All of these medications modify signals in the brain to dampen hunger, increase fullness and lessen food cravings.
5-Bariatric Surgical Evaluation ‘Touch Point’
For those with moderate or severe obesity who have been struggling with their weight despite repeated efforts at lifestyle modification and suffering from multiple medical issues that are largely weight related, bariatric surgery offers the most successful and durable solution.
However, it is a major decision to make. Although performed laparoscopically (through multiple small incisions), it does carry risk and requires life-long monitoring and nutritional supplementation.
If you are considering bariatric surgery, talk to your primary care provider. Try to attend an educational orientation seminar that reviews the procedures and the surgical process. Also, be sure to check with your insurance company regarding coverage.
The most successful CEOs are the ones who assemble the best teams. This can apply to you also.
Isn’t your health worth it?
Robert Kushner, MD