A little over a year ago, I wrote an article about a lady with grit and patience.
Here is a little reminder:
Aviva started our program at a weight off 155 kilogram at 53 years old. She’s not very tall, and her BMI was just over 62 (yes–you read that correctly). She was suffering from very high cholesterol, high blood pressure and slightly high sugar. She was fighting against going for weight loss surgery as she had finally decided she was going to take her life into her own hands. We also discussed in depth how this journey to better health and wellbeing was taking a very long time. It was her patience and grit that was pushing Aviva to keep going. Her rate of weight loss was very, very slow.
At the time of the original article, Aviva had lost 12 kilos. It’s time for an update. Yes—we still have a lot of work to do, but let’s take a look at Aviva’s progress to date and see what we can learn from it.
Aviva has continued her hard and determined work and has now lost a total of 39 kilo (86 pounds). When you do the work, you get results. Since her eating plan is doable and sustainable, she is able to be 90% compliant. It’s not to say that there aren’t some bumps in the road along the way; there have been some and there will probably be more. There are weeks where there is no weight loss, and sometimes Aviva’s weight may even go up a little. More importantly, all of the numbers on her last blood test were radically improved. She is more functional. Someone who a year and a half ago couldn’t even walk for 15 minutes straight, slowly, without get winded, today can now do a two hour walk! When exercising on a treadmill, Aviva is now walking twice as fast as she once could. She doesn’t miss a day of exercise and is still working here in our clinic twice a week.
Don’t lose weight rapidly!
I see advertisements all the time. They promise one will lose 5 kilo per month. They boast that Mr. X lost 40 kilo in 6 months. “Simply join the program and you can do the same,” they claim. But there is one thing they don’t tell you. All of these people, with very few exceptions, will gain it back– and probably more. The amount of weight you lose in any given period of time has no relevance to having a healthy life and keeping the weight off. Focus on the following questions: How many habits have I changed? How much better and healthier is my eating? How sustainable is my food program?
Although Aviva’s weight loss has picked up slightly, we are more than happy that she is not losing quickly. We don’t want her to fail in the long term. A scientist named Kevin Hall ran an analysis of the participants of the reality show “the biggest loser” that brought frightening results. This competition takes very obese people and runs a 7 month weight loss competition. Winners typically lost more than 150 pounds and sometimes much more. One season, the winner lost 264 pounds. The vast majority of these competitors could not keep their weight off. They had spent 7 months exercising and eating healthfully and were 100% dedicated to success. Nevertheless, they were unable to sustain their weight loss. In the end, rapid weight loss had destroyed their metabolisms to the point that keeping weight off was impossible. Even eating as little at 900 calories a day could bring weight gain. So we are very happy that Aviva has found the wherewithal to stay focused and be patient with her rate of weight loss.
On the food front
Aviva has gotten better and better with her eating. Yes, this is taking a long time, but when you consider that she took 30 years to put the weight on, taking 3-4 years until it all comes off isn’t such a bad deal. There is no question that over the last 3 months, her weight loss has picked up a little steam. This is probably because there have been several improvements on the food consumption side.
Aside from the fact that Aviva is eating less (without being hungry), one of the first changes that brought improvement was making better order out of eating. There has to be breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack and then supper—hopefully not too late. Making this order in her eating automatically brought better results. It is easier to track your portions and calories when you eat like this. You don’t get hungry this way, your insulin releases are more even, and you don’t have insulin spikes. It also keeps your metabolic rate slightly elevated most of the day when you eat small meals more often.
But Aviva has done something else in this long and arduous journey. She has moved to a more plant-based diet. She has all but eliminated processed foods, has severely reduced animal proteins and is reaping the benefits. Part of the reason her exercise has been more intense seems to also be related to these dietary changes. There is no longer any question that getting highly processed foods out of your life will automatically bring better health and usually a drop in weight.
What the future holds
Yes, Aviva has accomplished a lot. Losing this amount of weight, especially when you start so large and unfit deserves great praise. She has made this an absolute priority in her life. But, she has a long way to go. Aviva has now gotten about two thirds of the way to being in a place that we can call healthy. This has been a huge effort that has involved eating differently, keeping emotions under control, and behavioral changes across the board. She has made the time for exercise and when time is tight, she works it into her day by walking places instead of taking the bus.
Most importantly, Aviva is always looking to do better, to improve, and to be healthy. I hope to be writing another column down the road to tell you of Aviva’s continued progress. I hope to be telling you one day she is no longer obese and one day after that, that she is no longer overweight and that her blood tests are perfect. But the main point here is that she has a sustainable program and her weight is moving downward at a slow, healthy pace. Having determination, but also patience will “add hours to her days, days to her years, and years to her life.”