Over the years, I have never been a fan of online or internet sales. Looking into the eyes of over 20,000 patients, I could encourage, educate, motivate, and identify individual problems. Most importantly, seeing patients face to face is great for accountability.
Over time, I have seen a younger generation who refuses to sweat in a gym but is more comfortable working out or playing tennis with a Wii. We have a population that is more comfortable ordering everything from vitamins, DVD’s, or even groceries online. However, the final straw that persuaded us to offer our program online was the devastation the April, 2011 tornadoes brought to Tuscaloosa, Alabama where we are located. With patients losing their homes, cars, jobs, and even family members, their focus was on survival and not necessarily health. Basically, time and access were high priorities. After several months we began offering our program online to our patients, and it was appreciated and most importantly, our patients were successful in losing weight. So, an old dog can be taught new tricks. But the two most important attributes to have success for our patients is education and accountability.
Although we will continue to have our long standing physician practice, online we are using the principles we have used here for years. These principles include:
Accountability is key! There is no magic food, pill, shot or surgery. You have to hold yourself accountable with what you eat and weigh in weekly. Keep a food journal so you can’t deny what you have eaten. Seeing the calories you take in written down helps you remember what you have actually put in your mouth. Tell your family members and friends that you are dieting and ask for their help and encouragement. Unfortunately, family and friends can sometimes be your biggest diet saboteur!
2. Realizing that weight is not about food, but rather focus. It takes a commitment to oneself and changing one’s lifestyle to fit their life.
3. You cannot lose weight without water. Water basically breaks down fat. Trying to lose weight without water is like trying to build a house without bricks. Minimizing sodium and caffeine which act like diuretics and pull water out of your body help significantly. Water is best but NutraSweet Kool-aid or Crystal Light are better than soda or diet drinks.
4. Sleep is as important for your metabolism as exercise. If you ever watch a baby sleep all night, they wake up in the morning with energy. Without sleep, they are grumpy. Walk through a hospital at 4 a.m. and you may see more overweight nurses on night shift than day shift.
5. You do not lose weight exercising unless you are Michael Phelps, Lance Armstrong or 18 years old. Combining diet and exercise will give you the results you desire. Long term maintenance of weight loss definitely requires exercise.
6. Realizing that a diet is a diet. It gets weight off and helps break old habits and pick up new habits. It takes commitment. I cringe when I hear patients say how a certain diet didn’t work after a couple of weeks. That’s like going to AA for two weeks and calling their plan a failure.
The bottom line is that we don’t want to lose weight and pick at calories the rest of our lives - just be healthy!
John Morgan, M.D.