There is no dread like the dread of stepping onto the scale at the doctor’s office. I have spent many minutes in a gown anxiously awaiting the conversation with my doctor. When you aren’t at your personal goal weight, weight loss can seem overwhelming, whether it’s 5 or 50 pounds. While wellness is way more than a number on a scale, many women have weight loss goals. Drs. Jacqueline Kohl & Victoria Myers would like to share their approaches to eating well, weight loss and general health.
What has your weight journey been like?
JK: I was over 10 pounds at birth, and I think chubby ever since. I was overweight as a kid and increasingly so through high school & college. I started doing yoga, biking and did Weight Watchers in med school, but by residency, self-care was low on the priority list. After a few bouts of yo-yo dieting (and becoming a mom) I was at my highest weight. More importantly, I felt unhealthy. I knew I was not able to be as active with my growing little one as I wanted, and I wasn’t setting a good example for her. Just over 2 years ago, a friend dragged me to a fitness class which snowballed into new fitness routines, running, and taking control of my nutrition. I’m healthier now than I was at 18.
VM: As a teen and young adult my weight fluctuated. I was an athlete so it depended on whether or not I was in season or how much time I had to work out. After the birth of my second son, I gained a lot of weight. I was 40 pounds overweight and unhappy with the way I looked and felt. I was working like a dog, eating too much and not exercising in the right way and knew that I needed a drastic change. I started going to the gym at work if I had any down time. I wore sneakers and jumped on the treadmill every day, even if it was just 15 minutes. I would even drag the residents along with me and quiz them while we ran. I also completely changed my diet by focusing on having healthy foods readily available. You can eat as many cucumbers with balsamic vinegar glaze as you want. I have been able to maintain a healthy weight for over 8 years.
What have you found to be most successful?
JK: For weight loss, meal prepping. I choose recipes based on nutritional breakdown and prepare breakfast, lunch, and sometimes snacks for the week. I also plan out most of our dinners to meet my goals. www.skinnytaste.com is a favorite source of recipes for me. I love cooking, baking, and eating out, so I have found that restrictions and “diets” don’t work for me. I’m a fan of the 85/15 rule. 85% of the time, I stick to my plan. 15% of the time I eat what I want without guilt or stress. Limiting alcohol helps. And accountability is key, especially for exercise. I try to move my body each day, whether it’s a run, an intense bootcamp, or a leisurely walk and stretch. Exercise makes me feel strong and healthy, and reminds me to stay on track nutrition wise.
VM: One of the best things I ever did was to start running shorter distances faster. Instead of going on a slow 6 mile run with friends, I would run 3 miles as fast as I could. As time went on my speed improved and I got a much more efficient workout in less time. I also tried to be consistent and run daily. It’s a lot easier to find the time when you don’t need as much.
I got in amazing shape after I met Aaron Sistrunk at A Game Fitness in Flourtown. For women, weight bearing exercise is EXTREMELY important. It is important for weight loss as well as for bone health to build muscle. Aaron’s workouts are great for this. He works on burning calories not only during the workout, but all day afterwards. Even as a college athlete, I couldn’t do pull ups. After going to A Game, I can rock them.
Another really important aspect is my diet. I know that my body does not do well with sugar or carbs so I really watch that. Alcohol is another thing that will just pile on the pounds, especially in perimenopausal women.
How do you recommend someone get started?
JK: Incremental change. I spent my whole life overweight, at times incredibly so. If I focused on a number to lose, I felt too overwhelmed to try anything. Goal setting should be specific, measurable, and attainable. For example, “I want to go to a fitness class twice a week for the next month” or “I’m going to eat a serving of vegetables at lunch every day this week”. Once the goal is in mind, write it down, tell a friend and make a plan. Set up exercise clothes in advance, hit the grocery store or precook some meals for the week. Once a goal turns into a habit, build from there. And while accountability is important, don’t beat yourself up if you fall short!
VM: Just Do It! Start today. For exercise, just do something today. Take a walk or a jog. Do squats or push ups. You don’t need to go run a marathon tomorrow. Find the time. Get up 20 minutes earlier or skip lunch and workout out then. Watch your diet. Stop drinking sugary drinks (including wine) or pints of ice cream. Have a La Croix or an apple instead. Instead of chips, have those cucumbers with balsamic vinegar.
Any final thoughts?
JK: Weight is not a moral issue. You are not being “bad” because you eat the cake. You are not a better person when the scale reads lower. The strongest tool in your weight loss arsenal is your own mind. Getting away from the numbers and focusing on the “whys” can lead to the most lasting changes: why do you want to lose weight? Why are you snacking (hunger, boredom, stress)? I love to discuss these things with my patients and share anything that has helped me, as well as make referrals for fitness and nutrition!
VM: For perimenopausal and menopausal women, weight gain and body changes can be frustrating and depressing. Healthy diet and exercise needs to be a part of your everyday life. Find friends or workout partners to push you. The trainers and women at A Game did that for me, and I love to share that enthusiasm for fitness with my patients.