We are pleased to bring you this regular column by Dr. David Creel, a licensed psychologist, certified clinical exercise physiologist and registered dietitian. He is also credentialed as a certified diabetes educator and the author of A Size That Fits: Lose Weight and Keep it off, One Thought at a Time (NorLightsPress, 2017).
Do you have a weight loss question for Dr. Creel? Email him at [email protected]. He may answer your question in a future column.
In the next few articles, patients and colleagues provide their own recipes for weight loss success. The stories and advice are down-to-earth and powerful. I learned a great deal from them, and I believe you will too.
Melinda: The Insightful Registered Dietitian
Most registered dietitians have provided nutrition counseling to people who want to lose weight. Melinda Jones has made this a full-time career for nearly 20 years. Being a busy mother of four school-aged children often leaves her preoccupied with class projects, appointments, and after-school sporting events. Despite her hectic schedule, Melinda works hard to practice what she preaches by eating sensibly and staying physically active. Her healthy weight is not a genetic thing by any means. All the women in her family are overweight and she knows she would be also if she became a grab and go, fast food drive through, breakfast skipping, late-night snacking, soccer mom.
When I asked Melinda why she made a career out of weight management, she seemed a bit uncomfortable about discussing a rare topic—herself. She told me she had a desire to serve people and liked the fact that she could see the life-changing results of weight loss with her clients. She went on to explain that helping people manage their weight involves creating relationships with them, which gives her work a sense of purpose.
When Melinda first started counseling others, she viewed things more simplistically than she does now. Living her own life and working with thousands of patients has helped her better understand the complex nature of health behavior. She told me, “Too often, life gets in the way. People want to change, but they’re barely getting by, just reacting to things that happen.” In this context, Melinda has witnessed the destructive power of food.
However, when people commit to changing their lives and becoming intentional about living, instead of just responding to things that happen, food becomes an amazing healer. Melinda’s recipe for success isn’t what I expected from a typical nutrition professional, but she is exceptional. Although she could outline a healthy meal plan in her sleep, her advice doesn’t mention a thing about meals, artificial sweeteners, or probiotics. Instead of giving specific guidelines about food she focuses on the most important characteristics of success:
- People must know why they want to change and it can’t be to please someone else.
- Focus on positive things, not on the negative part of lifestyle changes. Sure, we make sacrifices, but we also reap many benefits that we can choose to notice.
- People who are successful do not feel defeated by missing a goal. They set another goal, along with a realistic plan to achieve it.
- Consistency. People who manage their weight repeat many of the same things every day: keep a regular sleep schedule, eat breakfast, set a specific time for exercise, cook at home, and weigh themselves. They aren’t overly rigid, but they also don’t regularly take “cheat days” or vacations from healthy eating.
- Success is different for each person but it will never be about following an unrealistic diet. Success only happens when people commit to changing the way they live.
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