Change can be difficult—especially when you’re trying to lose weight. Once you make the conscious decision to “lose weight”, you must also look at your daily life and behaviors. Often, I hear “I really don’t eat that much” or “I’m up and down stairs all day.” This leads me to ask, “How many calories do you eat in a day?”, “What kind of foods do you eat?”, “Do you log your food or calorie intake?”, and “Can you run at least half a mile?” These are usually met with a definitive “NO!” or “I don’t know.”

My approach to weight loss, as a weight loss specialist, focuses on breaking the cycle of detrimental behaviors and educating you on how to create new, healthy ones. In order to do that, you must be critical of everything that “goes hand to mouth” because weight gain is gradual—without close attention, fat mass can increase while muscle mass decreases. As fat mass increases, calories are metabolized differently: slower. The FDA recommends a 2000 calorie per day diet, but the only way pounds will be shed is if those calories come from an abundance of nutritionally dense foods rather than small amounts of calorie dense foods.

Even though I am a “diet doctor,” I understand we eat out of stress, happiness and boredom, but when these habits are repeated it puts our health and longevity at risk. The medical weight loss process is not about hoping and praying for change, it is about taking the action to change. Really successful people who have obtained our weight loss services, have a plan of attack and determination. Here are some tips for success:

1. Hydrate
Obesity is a “hyperosmolar state,” which means the body needs more water—not sugary vitamin waters or sports drinks—just water. Drink water prior to eating meals to not only ensure overeating, but also to aid in proper digestion. Drink water throughout the day. Ideally, drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day; this will improve metabolism. You can live without food, but you cannot live without water.

2. Exercise
Exercise may not be part of your daily routine. A complete “work-out” each day may seem impossible considering there are only 24 hours in a day, and we sleep for approximately 8 of them. So how can we incorporate exercise into our lives? Start by committing to a certain number of movements every day: 30-50 push-ups or crunches, 100 jumping jacks, 15 minutes at the gym, etc. This will help your muscles get used to the “resistance”, and eventually you will be able to complete more repetitions and exercises because muscle has memory. Keep your routine. In order to control weight gain, I promote resistance training over cardio; twenty minutes of weight training is better than an hour on the treadmill. If time is short, hit the weights. Don’t be afraid to be creative—weightlifting, crunches, and push-ups can all be done while watching your favorite TV show!

3. Eat What God Put On This Earth
Stick to the basics: proteins (turkey, ham, meats, fish, poultry, and eggs), vegetables, and fruits. Protein builds muscle, muscle improves metabolism, metabolism burns fat. Fill up on the GOOD FATS from meat, fish, avocado, real cream, and olive oil. Avoid BAD FATS like those in hydrogenated oils (Crisco, margarine, cheese whiz, processed foods). Load up on veggies. They control hunger because they are digested slowly so you will feel full longer. Eliminate sugar, wheat, and flour products: bread (all kinds), pasta, cereals, oatmeal, grits, bran, whole grains, and multi-grains. Wheat may be grown in the ground, but the wheat of the 21st century is industrialized and genetically modified which can cause inflammation, autoimmunity, and addiction to these foods. These are dense calorie foods that cause rebound hunger and distort your blood sugar and insulin levels. After 2 weeks of no wheat, you will feel so good you won’t even miss it.

4. Portion and Boundaries
Use your palm to gauge your portion size. Establish boundaries with your food and try to walk away from the table with a sense of hunger; you will not starve. Remember, you create your “appetite”—appetite is merely an eating behavior that you made and, therefore, you have the power to change. Your stomach “expects” the food at a certain time, but you control those expectations. Being successful in reaching your weight loss goals begins with changing your eating behaviors. You are not giving anything up except POUNDS!

5. Food Log
Keeping a food diary is crucial. Most people are amazed by how much they really eat in a day. Your food log is a step in your overall lifestyle change, which should not stop because it’s Christmas, a birthday, or some type of celebration. Think of yourself as a perpetual “athlete in training.” A food log holds you accountable and will help keep you on track.

6. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting means not eating for a of span of 8-12 hours or longer during some part of the day. The ideal time to intermittently fast is the evening. Stop eating at a set time, say 7pm, and fast throughout the night and only drink water. In the morning, continue to hydrate and eat your next meal at your regular time. It is permissible to exercise on this fast as well. Maintain this pattern for 3 days on and 2 days off. Practicing this technique during the year helps regulate glucose and insulin response, portion control and overall calorie maintenance—especially during holidays and vacations when temptation is high.

7. Cravings
Everyone has cravings. There is no pill or magic potion to eliminate them permanently. With the help from our weight management services, practice and proper preparation, you will gain control. It is completely reasonable to enjoy an occasional piece of chocolate, piece of birthday cake, or piece of pizza. However, boundaries must always be in place. The tools previously discussed here will help ensure that will happen.

8. Put It All Together
Putting these tips in motion, along with the 3 general rules that we teach you when you come to the office, will give you the ability to be successful in your weight loss journey. This process is not only a physical change, but also a mental one, and it will develop as you go. The quality of your life depends on it, so it is something that you must do for the rest of your life. Believe me—it’s cheaper and easier than having heart disease, diabetes, or morbid obesity.


Good Luck and God Bless,

Dr. Fortino