Frugal ways to Lose Weight—Part I*
I thought I’d address one of the most frequently asked questions I get from friends and family. And I do mean incredibly frequent—even when I travel overseas, I get asked how to lose weight.
Weight is a tricky subject and I’m bound to stick my foot in my mouth with something I say here. But I would be failing as a writer if I shied away from discoursing on difficult subjects—and part two of this blog covers some uncomfortable points.
So I’m going to plow ahead anyway.
Because my biological father was obese and died of a heart attack at age sixty-two, I tend to be acutely aware of what being overweight does to one’s longevity. My genetics also makes me— as a physician—a bit more bold about speaking out on weight issues in America and how to help people stay healthier so they can avoid Physicians like me (seriously—no one ever wants to see a Palliative Care doctor. We’re one step before Hospice!)
Most women want to lose just ten percent of their weight. When they do, they’re allegedly more likely to want to have sex because they feel better about their body image (sex is more complicated than just losing weight though—see part 2 next week).
You can lose—and maintain a healthy weight—without spending gobs of money on fancy diet systems. I gained exactly sixty-three pounds with each of my pregnancies. Here’s what I learned during my postpartum weight loss journeys (besides those last five pounds stick like glue):
1) First, if a member of your household is considering becoming a vegan or a vegetarian—instead of railing against the fates that meals are now more complicated—be supportive. By default, everyone else in the family will become healthier eaters. More veggies at each meal mean smaller waistlines and fewer doctor bills (I think eating more veggies is a theme in this book that I’ve heard good things about).
If you’ve ever considered going vegan/vegetarian, maybe take a look at this book.
2) One of the easiest ways to lose weight is to keep an old-fashioned food diary. While there are apps that help you do this, nothing beats putting pen to paper to write down what you’re putting into your body. And figuring out the calories of said food—and adding it all up—is eye opening.
Just doing this one thing alone has helped me drop five pounds when my pants are getting tight again.
3) You’d be surprised how little food you need to feel full. Eat off salad plates instead of the big dinner plates standard in modern American society. When I compare my modern salad plates to my mom’s one-hundred-year-old China dinner plates, they’re the same size. Over the years, Americans have gotten bigger along with their dinner plates.
By changing the size of your plate to a smaller size—and not going back for seconds— you can not only cut weight but maintain a lower weight.
4) I recommend accountability partners. I think this is one of the reasons why Weight Watchers works when you do it with friends. It’s the only “diet” system per se that I recommend to people when they ask me for weight loss advice. And calling it a “diet” system is a misnomer: it’s a lifestyle modification that has lifelong impact.
Weight Watchers online is cheaper than the in-person version.
5) Take probiotics. Seriously. I know it sounds crazy but one of my BFF’s from residency went on to get an obesity medicine certification and now runs her own weight loss clinic. She told me how one of the theories in their field is people have been exposed to so many antibiotics that their guts are all messed up. There are studies to back this up.
It kind of make sense when you look at history—antibiotics show up on the scene and bam, people slowly start getting heavier. So it’s either premature death from infection or premature death from the health complications of obesity. 🙁
This doc says: take probiotics and make yogurt your new best friend.
Next week we’ll talk about ways to lose weight that cost more money—and some of these are difficult to talk about in every day conversations, so I thought reading something might be easier for some people to take that kind of information in.
(*Please see a physician and talk about your weight loss plan before attempting it—especially if you have pre-existing health conditions. And above all, love yourself in whatever state your body is in—I’m just publishing this stuff to try to help people be healthier.)