During this past month multiple patients have come into the office with many different reasons why they have gained back some of their weight. Many of them have lost their way on what it means to stay the course. They jump from one idea to the next looking for the next successful weight loss food while they watch Dr. Oz recommend the next best pill for weight loss. Then they look in the mirror or stand on the scale every morning to find out whether they've done well or not. This is the only way for some people to feel happy to discover they've even lost a pound. But following the scale like this only hurts them physically emotionally and psychologically.
One patient came to the office after deciding that drinking a Blizzard on Saturday would not cause her any difficulty. She came in at 178 pounds but needed to weigh 135 pounds. This is her second time that she's tried to lose weight. The Blizzard alone caused her to gain about six pounds. I asked her why she felt she could indulge in a Blizzard from Dairy Queen and not gain any weight. All she said was, “But everybody else in the car ordered one, so I did too.” She compromised herself as she has in the past. She allowed herself the fleeting joy of the moment to tragically cause her to fail soon thereafter. What's the purpose when you have a goal to lose weight?
So what does it means to compromise yourself in your weight loss goals? The small, subtle little things that you do that you do not think will have any bearing on your weight loss will adversely affect you. Patients that are insulin resistant and carbohydrate intolerant do themselves a huge injustice by not paying attention to what they put in their mouths.
We have some patients that have been here for over a year. They keep returning because they think magically one day all of the weight will just disappear. They find themselves up five pounds, and then down three pounds. Next week they are up four pounds and the following week down three pounds. What are they accomplishing by compromising themselves this way!?
What leads to these feelings of helplessness and powerlessness when it comes to controlling your food intake? Studies have shown that certain foods dubbed “highly palatable foods" can produce similar addictive behaviors that make the brain compromise in areas that you really don't want to. These highly palatable foods trigger pleasures in the brain. They include processed high salt and high fat food, high sugar foods and other carbohydrates. They stimulate the addiction center and addiction brings a sense of joy and excitement in life. However, there's a difference between an activity being truly pleasurable and an addictive behavior. This difference lies in the brain's reaction. Different parts of your brain work together to sense stimuli, control your actions, and tell us when something is needed for more pleasure.
As I previously mentioned in past articles for the newsletter, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is released in the response to pleasurable stimuli from eating certain sugary foods, consuming drugs and alcohol. The pleasurable feelings that result from the release of dopamine serve to reinforce our behavior. That's why the girl indulged in the Blizzard when all the friends were saying to have one. Consuming sugary products increases the dopaminergic release which causes us to seek more of the same experience. We just want more of the same, and weight gain follows.
Compromising is commonly associated with other areas of our lives. We mean to exercise for example, but we don’t follow through. With every good intention in the world, we know that exercise would be good for us, but we find an excuse to do something else. We even set our clock to get up early but then turn it off. These are all compromises that keep us from our goals. Don't lose sight of the big picture because of a slip you made. Suffering from discouragement might be a training ground for your maturity to finish the course that you started. It develops your patience and makes the final victory feel so sweet. Your disappointment in yourself can be God's appointment for you to do the best exercise there is--- to touch the floor with your knees every morning. That is one of the best exercises for your soul in your quest to permanently lose weight. As you well know, prayer changes things. After prayers, Peter preached one sermon on Pentecost day that changed the lives of 3000 people!
Losing your weight means staying in control of your flesh. Do not give into those little temptations that compromise your efforts. They will adversely affect you for the rest of the month. There are many of these that can easily trap you if you're not careful. The Ritz cracker, for example, that you don’t think won’t bother you does lower certain enzymes in your liver that help you lose weight.
Our goal is to see you finish what you started and to have you succeed in every other aspect of your life because you brought yourself into submission and you decided never to compromise with your health ever again.
Blessings to all,
Chuck Shaffer M.D.