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Knowledge is Power!

Eat less and move more. That is pretty much what every weight loss program comes down too and science shows that while the premise is sound, for most of us it simply doesn’t work.

Why is that?

I asked myself that question 15 years ago when my 5’2” body was giggling under a size 22 dress that could have easily been purchased at Jumbo’s tent and awning shop. I had willpower. I once did a 22 day juice fast. I lost 24 lbs and kept it off for 2 weeks! I heard this exercise guru say that you weren’t losing weight unless your stomach was growling and he seemed to be advocating we spend most of our waking moments biking, stretching or jumping. Great for him, but how realistic is that for a working mother of two? - And for some reason I couldn’t reconcile myself to feeling hungry the rest of my life. I went to a registered dietitian. She printed me out an eating plan that looked just like the one the 6' 4" man was clutching as I passed him leaving her office. I found the eating plan uninteresting and reminiscent of school lunches or those unappetizing meals I was given while lying in a hospital bed. Oh wait! – what culprit designed both of those adventures in eating. I went to several doctors. Here is a medley of nutritional medical advice for a fee of approximately $125.00 a pop. Two of them gave me printed out diet plans from a variety of national organizations. (I had most of them already.) One recommended I drink a slim fast shake instead of eating lunch. After all it was working for his athletic, size 4 wife who was frantic to be a size 2. I will confess that I passed on that suggestion since I was already skipping lunch (I was trying to make my stomach growl). One prescribed an anti depressant, it made me sleepy but not thin. The best value for my 125 bucks was when one doctor leaned over his desk, took my hand and told me “just push yourself away from the table”. Great advice, like that 22 day starvation escapade wasn’t pretty much giving that a shot! And before you ask, yes I have watched every weight loss program Oprah tried and touted through the years, from Optifast to Bob Green and everything in between. How many times have we said that if we could afford our own chef and famous personal trainer that maintaining a healthy weight would be a breeze? Well, I respect Oprah, I love her show, she shares lots of insight and encouragement but even with all the experts and services at her disposal she seems to Yo-Yo right along with the best of us!
I could rival the public library with the collection of weight loss and diet cookbooks that I had bought. And lest we forget all the crazy fad diets, isles of potions, pills, bars and package meals served up at every discount, pharmacy and grocery store. But Wait! – How about those totally inspirational commercials for every weight loss program and magic pill known to modern man and women. Stop, put down your credit card! Before you sign up for those free 56 meals with your auto delivery or rearrange your schedules to attend those weekly meetings, look at the disclosure at the bottom of every weight loss commercial. “THESE RESULTS ARE NOT TYPICAL". According to major clinical studies, only about 1 to 2 percent of obese people permanently lose weight and even more discouraging is research suggesting that for the other 98 or 99 people, well they will regain 115% of the weight initially lost.
Medscape General Medicine. 2007;9(4):18. ©2007 Medscape

Before you take solace in that Boston Crème Pie you tucked away in the freezer for an emergency, I want to tell you that if a food addict like me has been able to lose and maintain a 60 lb weight loss for over 15 years- then anyone can! What I learned was that any of the thousands of weight loss theories work. What will guarantee that you will be the 1 success out of the 99 strugglers is finding what is right for you. After lots of doctor appointments, lots of reading, lots of weight loss programs - a recommendation from a medical doctor who was dabbling in holistic medicine sent me to a certified nutritional consultant. This was kind of radical back then. Anyone who practiced natural or integrative medicine was pretty much labeled a quack. Of course with a decade of prospective, the most respected and well known physicians today, including Dr. Andrew Weil and even Oprah’s Dr. Mehmet Oz, openly encourage us to consider holistic practices and practitioners. "Professional Dieters" tend to embrace an all or nothing strategy and statistics show that the average life of a self-start weight loss program is about 72 hours. The common thread for success seems to be an eating plan that is tailored to meet individual eating and lifestyle challenges, coupled with encouraging counseling and accountability. Finding a practitioner who understands the complexities of being overweight from first hand experience and follows through with their personal commitment to healthy weight management is definitely a plus. I feel that those “experienced” practitioners are usually more excited about celebrating your efforts and praying for your success.

The right match will be that practitioner who is as passionate about your success as you are - who teaches you how to stop dieting and to start embracing a sensible lifestyle strategy. It is your job to be proactive in your own health. Never give up! If you try something that you are not comfortable with, you haven't failed - you just haven't found the right fit for you yet.

If you do seek the partnership of a holistic professional here are some things I feel are important. The difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist is that a dietitian has an allopathic medical education in food science and a nutritionist or nutritional consultant can practice with little or no formal education. So be aware that the term “Nutritionist” is sometimes coveted by the quirky gal working at your local GNC. When hiring a holistic nutritionist, look for someone who has a BA or BS, a degree in nutritional counseling from an accredited holistic college and preferably board certified. Board certification as a holistic health professional means that a specific standard has been met. The American Association of Drugless Practitioners required that I submit all college transcripts, as well as professional and personal references, photo ID and certain personal information that would facilitate a background check. Also, as in any profession, be sure that the help you receive is from someone who participates in ongoing education; one measurement of that could be by asking about the subjects and number of their continuing medical education credits. Hiring a professional requires some thought, whether a CNC, CNP, DC, ND, PA, RD, or MD. Do they make you feel confident, safe and cared for? Can they offer you references? Are you comfortable with their credentials? Do they show real passion for their profession? Some of the best people in the weight loss industry are not Harvard graduates or a member of the American Medical Association. You may be surprised to find that many holistic practioners know a lot more about nutrition than the most respected physician in your town.

Be well!

© 2008 - Nancy Love-Martin CNC, AADP ®74392605

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