Fitness column: Get to know yourself before starting a weight-loss program
I get very excited when new clients walk into my door ready to start their weight loss program. After I introduce myself, we go straight to the body composition assessment. Based on their body composition, we start talking about their lives, desires and goals.
It is very important for my clients to be transparent about what they hope to achieve and what is stopping them from achieving it. Before we set up goals, I ask basic questions that help me understand if their problem is superficial and can be fixed by healthy eating and exercise.
Most of the cases are simple and straightforward. This means that most people only need to understand their bad habits and replace them with good habits. This is when goal setting is very simple.
But sometimes it is not so simple. I have some clients who come with other difficulties: Some are taking antidepressants, others don’t have control of their lives yet, and some are going through a very difficult part of their lives.
While weight loss is possible for people in these situations, the reality is that most people need to take care of their first issue, or at least have a plan to overcome it, before being able to stick with a weight loss program.
Here is an example of how one such issue can affect weight loss: Antidepressants contribute to weight gain. While a person can lose weight while using antidepressants, the weight loss might be very minimal. They must be extremely meticulous about what they eat and exercise rigorously to see a change. The problem is that most people can’t follow a structured lifestyle plan under these circumstances.
While I help my clients set up their weight loss goals, I advise them about the limitations they face because of the other factors contributing to weight gain. I think the most ethical thing a professional can do is to disclose all side effects, including short- and long-term, to the client. With knowledge comes power. The best we can do is provide accurate information, but it’s up to the client to ultimately make a decision.
Before planning any weight loss program my advice is to talk to a capable doctor and find all the factors that may be contributing to your weight gain. Then, when you start your weight loss program, you won’t feel like you’re swimming against the current.
Also, having a supportive family helps people stick with a weight loss program. This doesn’t mean anyone should be forced into a weight loss program. This means that the members of the family will respect the individual’s decisions about what is best for him or her in the weight loss program. Forcing a person to do something she or he does not want to do will not deliver results. Understanding and support will deliver results.
Devastating events — such as losing a loved one — we can’t control. However, we can control what we can do about it. Many people decide to change their life and lose weight when they’re going through some emotional pain. There is nothing wrong with changing one’s life in this stage. However, we need to understand that our commitment must be stronger than our emotional pain.
Evaluating all the factors that will affect your weight loss program is a must for you to be successful. These factors include medication, support and emotional events. Find the right answers to all of them, and don’t settle until you achieve your goal.
Sandro Torres is owner of Custom Body Fitness in Carbondale, author of the book “Lose Weight Permanently” and a Watch Fit columnist. His column appears on the second Tuesday of the month in Body & More.
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