Memorial Regional Health: Support essential in quest toward weight loss — Research shows emotional, social, practical support bolster weight-loss goals
Editor's note: The following article is sponsored by Memorial Regional Health.
Year after year, Americans make New Year's resolutions to lose weight, but research shows many completely give up on their goal by February.
Many weight loss resolutions include some kind of quick-fix fad diet, which research shows is one of the worst plans a person can follow in terms of long-term success. Fad diets usually claim to help you lose weight quickly — more than 1 or 2 pounds per week — often without exercise. Fad diet marketing campaigns show promising before and after photos, contain boasting endorsements from people who are likely being paid as part of the advertising, and usually require you to spend money on things like pills, books, seminars, prepackaged meals, protein powders, and more, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
At Memorial Regional Health, a new monthly weight loss support group is aiming to help patients who have had bariatric surgery succeed the healthy way by providing education, tools, and social support for living a healthier lifestyle.
The third Thursday of every month, MRH will host a different speaker to discuss various weight loss-related topics before opening the discussion for attendees to ask questions, said Adysen Jourgensen, registered dietitian at Memorial Regional Health. While the group is geared toward bariatric surgery patients, others can attend.
"These topics can vary from exercise to nutrition, and we are hoping to get some guest speakers who can come in and talk about the different bariatric surgeries and various other topics related to weight loss," Jourgensen said. "We are covering all of these topics in hopes of providing attendees more knowledge and various tips that individuals can use to achieve their weight loss goals."
Support, whether emotional, practical, or inspiring, is a major factor in achieving weight loss goals, according to The Mayo Clinic. Emotional support might be a shoulder to lean on when you're feeling discouraged, while practical support could involve someone watching the kids while you exercise. Inspiring support might include an exercise partner who motivates you on days you feel like giving up.
Psychological research shows it's easier to stick to a weight loss plan when you have support, according to the American Psychological Association. And just in October 2018, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported the findings of a weight loss study that showed intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions in adults with obesity can lead to clinically significant improvements in weight status. These interventions focused on nutrition, physical activity, self-monitoring, identifying barriers, problem solving, peer support, and relapse prevention.
MRH's weight loss support group includes all of these components, and Jourgensen said she thinks it has the potential to truly benefit attendees.
"Being able to discuss practical ideas when it comes to meeting physical activity goals, different nutrition tips, and various other topics of interest in the weight loss realm with peers can be great," she said. "Support is huge when trying to achieve any type of goal, and building relationships with others who are experiencing the same things you are can really help with staying on the right track. I think the comradery that will come from this group will be huge in helping our participants."
Why fad diets aren't the answer
Unfortunately when it comes to weight loss, there are no quick fixes. That's not to say you can't lose a fair amount of weight quickly with a fad diet, but keeping it off becomes the challenge.
"Slow, steady weight loss is more likely to last than dramatic weight changes. Healthy plans aim for a loss of no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week," according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. "If you lose weight quickly, you’ll lose muscle, bone, and water. You also will be more likely to regain the pounds quickly."
Jourgensen said her rule of thumb is that, if you don't think you can eat a certain way for the rest of your life, then you probably shouldn't start it.
"Quick results are much more exciting and satisfying than long-term lifestyle changes," she said. "I think all of us enjoy instant gratification, so it is much easier to get discouraged when you aren't seeing immediate results."
So what's the best answer? Jourgensen said it's eating healthfully — including lean meats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and limiting eating out — and in the appropriate portion sizes, and getting 150 minutes or more of physical activity per week.
One of the best tips Jourgensen has is to write things down — your weight loss goals, the "why" behind those goals, grocery lists, workout schedules.
"As simple as this sounds, seeing your goals each day and reminding yourself why you started the journey can serve as a huge motivator to continue working towards achieving them," she said. "Those who make a life-long commitment to eating healthier and exercising have the most success in terms of weight management in the long run."