How do I lose weight?
This is one of the most common concerns we hear from our patients. It is a very simple question with a not so simple answer. Years ago, I thought the correct answer was to eat less calories and to exercise and burn more calories. I think we have all tried this formula at one time or another and if it worked that well we would not have the current obesity problems that we do… maybe.
There are many other things that affect our weight-some we understand and some we do not understand. I have no idea how much our stress levels, sleep, and gut biome (the bacteria that live in our intestinal tract) to name a few, affect our weight but I have little doubt that they do. I also suspect that the amount of highly palatable, processed foods has a lot to do with our bodies storing more calories in the form of adipose tissue. We also have the pleasure of living in a world where the amount of physical energy we must burn to survive day to day is significantly less than it has ever been.
So, to simplify how to lose weight we should avoid stress, get plenty of sleep (8-10 hours) per night, understand our gut biome and be able to manipulate it, avoid processed foods and figure out how to make time to do some daily physical activity that makes our bodies burn calories more efficiently and does not make us feel chronically fatigued and sore. It is just that simple!
My suggestion is to first pan out on our goal. Try and make your goals about eating better/less, getting incrementally more fit, getting better sleep and learning more about what stress does to us and how to learn to better relate with the negative effects of stress (by the way, they are not all negative).
I would suggest you do any one of the following to start your journey to be healthier and maybe a lighter human:
- Meet with a professional nutritionist. Sylvan Health is a nutrition group that we have have recently begun using and they seem terrific. The cost is covered by insurance in many cases which is great.
- Hire a personal trainer. Best money that I have ever spent on my health without a doubt. Do not shy away from the cost of this. This will provide benefits for the rest of your life. There are less expensive ways to do this in 2021 using of course the internet! I like DanJohnUniversity.com as an example.
- Look into mindfulness or if possible, see a behavioral health professional. We can all learn something from doing this. I really do feel that the best way to get healthier is from the inside out. The more insight we have into how we react to certain stressors in our lives the better if you ask me. We are all different in this and our stressors are all different. There are many low-cost ways to start down this path as well. I use the Headspace app to meditate daily. Asking around for resources at local churches and universities may be helpful as well.
- Find a social group to spend some of your time with that care more about their health. One of my examples is that years ago I did the work with my personal trainer out of CrossFit gym. I never participated in the CrossFit classes, but I did meet some great people that did, and I benefited from the energy, knowledge and relationship that they brought to their exercise.
- Last but certainly not least, get a medical evaluation in the form of a physical prior to starting your journey. We will do our best to make sure you are healthy and capable. We really do love being a part of your support team!
Samuel Bastian, MD
Dr. Bastian is a Board Certified doctor of both Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. He graduated from the University of Tennessee, Memphis School of Medicine in 1989 and completed residency training in both Internal Medicine and Pediatrics there in 1993. He has practiced in his hometown of Franklin, Tennessee since July of 1993. Dr. Bastian is married and has three daughters. They live in the Grassland community. He is actively involved in organized medicine and is a former board member of the Tennessee Medical Association. He is a past president of Heritage Medical Associates and the current Chief of Staff at Williamson Medical Center. He enjoys spending time with his family, reading, cooking, and weight training.