Losing Weight Without Drugs,
BEFORE AND AFTER: Andrew Sokolsky lost 120 pounds and now teaches others how to lose weight.
Andrew Sokolsky, DC, is the creator of The Sokolsky Plan, An Intelligent Guide to Permanent Weight Loss. He is the director of the San Francisco Weight Loss Center and has been in private practice since 1987. Find Andrew's listing under Weight, Image & Diet.
© Copyright 2010 Andrew Sokolsky, DC. Reprinted here by permission.
As a doctor who lost 120 pounds and now teaches others how to lose weight, I bring first-hand experi-ence to the challenges involved with weight loss. I want my clients to lose weight healthfully, intelligently and permanently, without resorting to drugs or surgery.
If it was as easy as "putting your fork down," we wouldn't have as high an obesity rate as we have in our country. Nor is there a "quick and easy fix," as those who tout the latest fad diet want us to believe.
Just as there is an increased sensitivity in our society to viewing addiction to alcohol as genetically linked, with time our understanding of a genetic predisposition to be overweight will be more clearly understood. Fortunately, a genetic predisposition to be fat can be overcome with an eating and exercise plan that is flexible, practical and tailored to a client's unique circumstances.
When I teach and coach overweight clients, I first find out how much weight they want to lose and assess whether their goals are reasonable, attainable and healthful. I recommend a client have an ideal goal weight that they want to reach and a weight-range that they want to live within. I also have a client decide on a weight that they "never want to see on the scale again," with an agreement that if they do, they will return to the plan that we designed to lose their excess weight.
Next, I talk about a client's motivations for losing weight. The most powerful motivators are emotional rather than logical, and may not "make sense" to others. Often they are very personal, and although I ask my client's to write their motivators down, they do not need to share them with me. I encourage clients to be honest about their deepest feelings. Losing weight requires dedication and commitment, and if a client is driven and supported by emotionally powerful motivators, they have a strong foundation for success.
Research has shown that keeping track of when a person eats, what they eat and how many calories are in the foods they eat gives people a much better chance of losing weight. Most people have heard of calories, but most don't know how many calories they need to consume to lose the weight they want to lose. Nor do they know how many calories are in the foods that they eat.
To lose one pound, a person needs to consume 3,500 calories less than they need to maintain their weight. Thus, if a person wants to lose one pound in one week, they would need to consume an average of 500 calories a day less than they need to maintain their weight. How much a person needs to maintain their weight is affected by their genetics, age, metabolism, exercise level and muscle-to-fat ratio.
I give my clients nutritional guidelines that will support their health and their weight loss. By understanding the glycemic index of foods, clients can understand how some foods will stabilize blood sugar and support feeling satiated for longer periods of time. This allows them to eat in a way that reduces their physiological desire to eat, thus reducing cravings. Especially because my clients will be eating less, it is that much more important that they get their calories from healthy food sources. There are thin people who are unhealthy, and I don't want my overweight clients to join their ranks. All that said, I have my clients decide for themselves what they will be eating. This supports more long-lasting success. I also encourage clients to eat six or more times per day, as a way of avoiding feeling overly hungry, and avoiding the body's tendency to slow its metabolism when too long a period of time elapses without eating.
Following these guidelines a client is better able to distinguish eating for physiological reasons versus eating for psychological reasons. This is where the concept of addiction plays in. Many of my clients and I benefit from understanding how deep our connection to overeating is, and how we often use food as an addictive substance. Recognizing how we use food as an addictive substance allows us to better understand the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual challenges involved in losing weight and maintaining weight loss.
I teach my clients about the benefits of exercise, and tailor a plan to their size and abilities. I encourage my clients to choose an exercise that allows them to exercise consistently, safely, with relative ease and adaptability, and an exercise that can be done for the long term.
I then offer support to deal with the emotional and mental challenges that often need to be addressed for lasting results. I address other issues rarely dealt with in a weight-loss plan such as how to use the scale to support you, how to deal with your clothes as you grow out of them and, importantly, how to deal with the inevitable challenges and setbacks one is bound to face. I accept setbacks as an inevitable part of the weight loss process and teach patients how to make those setbacks as short-term as possible.
I believe it is important to examine and sometimes change how people talk to themselves - their "self-talk." I also encourage clients to find role models and build a support system. As a doctor and weight-loss coach I set up a plan uniquely designed for a client's lifestyle, teach the science of weight loss, and provide support and accountability. Combining knowledge, sensitivity and respect for the challenges that my overweight clients face provides a caring environment that allows for weight-loss success.
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