I have received numerous requests from readers to address how to maintain their weight after they have tried one of the faddish quick weight loss diets where they rapidly lost a lot of pounds in a short period of time. As a case study, let me tell you about my client Lisa who is an avid exerciser and mom of two teenagers who is constantly struggling with weight loss.
Lisa frequently starts a new diet where she often sees fantastic results quickly. Her problem has always been maintaining the weight loss. Most of the diets she puts herself through are drastic and boring. She came to my office with a journal of her recent food intake. I could see that her intense workouts left her ravenous and she struggled to maintain the 1200 calories prescribed by her diet and then gorged on healthy foods. She often succumbed to cravings which would set off a binge attack. I observed that Lisa was ignoring her hunger signs completely and she would eat on a preset schedule where hunger and fullness were not considered.
During our discussion I could tell Lisa had very little knowledge about nutritionand what are considered balanced meals of protein, fiber, low fat, and low sugar.I taught her how to read the food labels for important nutrition facts such as the percentage of fat per serving, grams of fiber per serving and how to calculate grams of protein into ounces. Lisa did not realize that her food choices were high in fat and low in protein and fiber. Afterwards Lisa and I went on a supermarket tour where she discovered many of the great convenience foods available for a family of four. I set up a tasty meal plan for her based on her favorite foods and I told her that her new friend is protein and fiber, which must be eaten at every meal and snack. I introduced Lisa to Greek yogurt, turkey jerky, fat free cottage cheese, homemade hummus, hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter with celery or an apple, oatmeal, and Kashi Go Lean cereal with a sprinkle of Craisins for snacks which could be easily taken with her during her outings.
I thought long and hard on how to help her read her body better. I decided to probe a little more about her eating habits and responses. Was she always hungry when she was eating? Did she get too full after a meal? Did she taste the food or inhale it? Was she overeating at times because she was upset or very happy? I asked Lisa to keep a log where she recorded her level of hunger based on a scale from 1-10. After analyzing the log we established a goal to eat when her hunger levels were a 6 to 7 and to stop when she was at 8 to 9. It took her a while to learn to listen to her body and begin to appreciate hunger signals. We also focused on her desire to be “perfect” everyday and making herself feel miserable when she wasn’t. I was adamant that she must begin treating herself more kindly, like she treated her children. Lisa learned that she could enjoy rich food at times as long as it was in small portions.
Now Lisa delights in going to a restaurant and ordering two appetizers as her main dish like crab cakes and a delicious salad or an entrée like lamb chops with double veggies and a slice of bread . She was happy to learn that she can have choices that would never have been on her previous diet list where she typically ordered a small salad and simply grilled fish which wasn’t filling and left her feeling unsatisfied. After eating a meal like that she would come home hungry and raid the refrigerator. I also introduced Lisa to fresh Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, as well as other local eateries that I believe offer great food for those who want to eat healthy.
Lisa finished my eight week “Royal Treatment Program” and she is a new woman. She has maintained a 15 lb weight loss and is confident about making great food choices each day. We still have scheduled meetings for support and discussion of family events that bring lots of food to the table to keep her on track.
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