All Entries For maintenance

What Do Doctors Really Eat?

Fact: Doctors love to eat. It is a truth that I learned early on in my medical training and one that has followed me through my career. To survive long shifts and a revolving door of patients, I quickly learned that a solid meal is key, but that doesn’t always mean we have time to sit down for a nice meal of quinoa and kale. For doctors, food is energy, plain and simple, and that means carbs, fats and proteins that can be procured and eaten quickly on breaks.

As the treadmill of my life as a surgeon cranked up to full speed, I adopted these poor eating habits to cope with my increasingly hectic schedule. Sporadic eating throughout the day led to overeating at dinner, and bribing nurses with glazed croissants ended with indulging in one or two sweet treats myself. I gave little thought to nutritional value or savoring the taste of what I was eating and thus, as my practice grew, so did my waistline.

Suddenly, 20 years had passed since my days as an eager intern, and my weight was up--along with my cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar. Who knew I couldn’t just tell my patients how to be healthy without following the same advice myself?

But then I realized something great: It was not too late to make a change. I could save my patients and myself at the same time. Yes, there is a donut shop on the first floor of the hospital, but I don’t have to frequent it.  While there are bays of elevators taking me up to the 8th floor to see patients, I don't have to use them. In the end, it is about finding the right balance. The secret to healthy living is not a fad diet or some short term sacrifices; It is about making good choices, most of the time.  I am not perfect, but my weight is down, my blood sugar levels are normal and my cholesterol is under control. I don’t count calories, but I do exercise five days a week, alternating cardio and weight training.
Posted 3/5/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments   23,169 views
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Should You Maintain Your Weight before You Lose?

"Weight loss is really hard---but maintaining that weight loss is even harder!"  If anyone out there agrees with this statement; please raise your hand. 
That’s what I thought. There are lots of hands held high.  It seems that most people struggle with the yo-yo syndrome: lose the weight, gain the weight, lose the weight, gain the weight.  But, what’s a dieter to do?  Perhaps it is time to put the cart before the horse.
Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine recently conducted a "switcharoo" when it came to weight loss and weight maintenance.  They took 267 overweight and obese females and divided them into two groups.  The control group went through a traditional 20-week weight-loss program followed by an eight-week maintenance phase. 

The test group went through the eight-week maintenance phase first, and then focused on weight loss for 20 weeks.  The results were surprising to say the least, and significant.  While each group lost about the same amount of weight--17 pounds or 9% of their initial body weight--the "maintenance-first" group only gained back three pounds at their one-year follow-up but the "weight loss first" group had gained back seven pounds, on average. 
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it!  But guess what?  Those women who first spent eight weeks mastering the tools, techniques and skills for weight maintenance were better equipped mentally and physically to handle the day-in, day-out struggle of their toxic food environment after the 28-week program was completed.  Are you itching to discover how?  
Posted 4/11/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Becky Hand : 118 comments   45,205 views
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So, You've Reached Your Goal Weight... Now What?

I have lost well over 100 pounds and have maintained the majority of those lost pounds for over 3 years. Because of the length of time I have been on my weight loss/maintenance journey, I am at a point that I really spend much of my free time (which is not much at all), looking back and reflecting upon my journey. One of the questions that I have asked myself on many occasions is, "What was different about this last and most successful attempt?" If you have read any of my blogs then you may know that it’s hard for me to give credit to any single factor.  I almost always attribute my outcome to a multitude of things. 
I have tried to lose weight on many occasions. My first formal "diet" was at age 15.  I started at 180 pounds and dieted (starved) down to 140 in 3 months, utilizing a national weight loss program.  At the end of the diet, I went back to my old ways and it probably took me about 3 months to gain it all back. I can’t really blame my teenage self for that and all of the subsequent failures to come.  I had not yet learned about the concept of calories and the importance of balancing my energy intake and output. Not surprisingly, I went on many more "diets" with my last major attempt in 1996, when I lost 25 pounds on yet another national weight loss program (this was my fourth national weight loss program!).  I then went on to gain about 100 pounds in that following year and gave up on losing weight for about 10 years.

During those 10 years that I spent being morbidly obese, I accomplished quite a bit. I got married, graduated from medical school and gave birth to 5 beautiful children. So, it’s not like I wasn’t busy. I was very busy with the transition from adolescence to adulthood. I was also very busy with avoiding my increasing girth.
Posted 2/27/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Birdie Varnedore, M.D. : 31 comments   12,579 views
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What's Your Secret, Dr. Birdie? Willpower

"You've lost over 100 pounds! What's your secret?"

I've heard that question countless times.  When I first lost the weight, my answer was always simple and the same: "diet and exercise."  Disappointed looks always followed and I would walk away thinking, "Why did I disappoint them? I was only trying to be honest and helpful!"  But, over time, I started to really think about how unsatisfying my answer must be to those who are serious about wanting to lose weight and change their lives.  I believe that everyone to some degree has an understanding that "diet and exercise" boils down to what we call here at SparkPeople "calories in vs. calories out."  I know that there are millions of people who are uninformed about how many calories they should consume in a day and even more if you throw in the concepts of nutrition and how to incorporate exercise into your daily lifestyle.  So, if the purely educational barriers are overcome, is this still enough for everyone to achieve long-term success?   

There will be a certain percentage of overweight people who, just by providing them with tools and accurate information about diet and exercise, will be able to successfully their reach weight loss and maintenance goals.  Kudos to them!  Unfortunately, I believe is that is a very small percentage and, to my dismay, I am not a member of that group.  You don’t end up weighing close to 300 pounds based solely on pure lack of knowledge about what it takes to create a calorie deficit!  Let me clarify to say that educating yourself about nutrition and exercise is important; what I am asserting is that knowledge of nutrition and exercise ALONE will not be effective for MOST of us to achieve our weight-loss goals.  This may be a bit shocking to hear, especially coming from someone who spends time and energy in the pursuit of educating people about "diet and exercise."  Knowledge about diet and exercise is the key to shedding weight and maintaining the lost pounds, but what I want to discuss today is how one places the key in the ignition to incite change and get excited about that knowledge.      

With these thoughts in mind I would like to share with you some of my thoughts on another concept that is widely associated with weight loss, willpower.  This is a core element that most believe to be paramount to the success of any weight-loss endeavor. 
What is willpower?  Willpower as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as "the power to control one's actions, impulses, or emotions." 

The ability to control one's actions and impulses!  That sounds exactly like what we need in vast quantity to lose and maintain our weight!  Those who have lost a significant amount of weight obviously had it in plentiful supply during their journey.  There are different paradigms that can be used to describe willpower.  Some believe that the amount you possess is predetermined at birth (like eye color).  Others believe that it resides in all of us whether we realize it or not and that we just need to learn how to tap into it.  The belief that that I am most fond of and interested in is that willpower is a resource that can be strengthened or squandered.  

Let's discuss a study that sheds light into what willpower is and take away some potentially helpful information that may help you on your quest to achieve weight loss and a permanent lifestyle change.  This study was not designed for the purpose of weight loss, but given that the whole science of weight loss and weight maintenance is incomplete at best I think it's OK to take a few liberties in order to try to understand why it's not easy to lose the weight and to keep it off.
Posted 1/24/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Birdie Varnedore, M.D. : 37 comments   12,022 views
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Dream A Better Dream

When I was contacted by SparkPeople and asked to write about the trials and tribulations of weight loss maintenance, I immediately wrote back and asked Stepfanie how she knew that I had three teenagers in high school?  Tool number 1 for keeping off the weight – a good sense of humor helps!

I’d like to start out by telling you some of my weight loss history and talking to you about your dreams for yours. 

I realized one day at work when I had trouble walking up three flights of stairs after a fire drill that I was in terrible shape.  That same week I was approached by four brave souls who asked me to join a "Biggest Loser" contest.  At first I was stunned, but I now look back in extreme gratitude that friends would step out in intervention to help me.

My dream at that time was just to lose 20 pounds.  I never dreamed I’d lose 95 pounds and keep it off.  My dream was small, but I was committed to it.  I wrote on the memo of my check for the competition “The Winner.”  I was so confident that I could lose that 20 pounds, and I did--and I won.  The second time around I wasn’t such a good dreamer.  I entered but didn’t believe I could win, and I didn’t.  But the good news was that I continued to lose and workout.
Posted 12/1/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Michelene Cleary : 60 comments   12,610 views
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