By now you are probably sick and tired of hearing about the obesity epidemic in America. You already know that bigger is not better and that a large waist size increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. But shedding pounds–and keeping them off–is one of the great challenges of modern life.
It’s not that there is any shortage of advice. There are dozens of diet programs and probably hundreds of diet books available to help you shed pounds, preferably painlessly. Effortless weight loss seems to be the perennial American dream. Some of the diets keep popping up like perennials, as well.
One of them, misleadingly titled “the new mayo clinic diet,” has been circulating on the Internet for a decade. Even then, it was a resuscitation of the “old” mayo clinic diet that had been passed from person to person since the 1960s. The actual Mayo Clinic has disavowed this diet in any of its incarnations, but that doesn’t stop enthusiasts from claiming that you can achieve weight loss of 50 pounds in 2 months by following the plan. People are instructed to breakfast upon eggs, bacon, and grapefruit. Lunch consists of salad, meat, and the ubiquitous grapefruit. For dinner, the dieter has (you guessed it) half a grapefruit plus as much meat as he or she wants and a green or red vegetable cooked in butter. People are encouraged to eat until they are full.
The sad and simple truth is that there are no shortcuts to the shape you want. Taking off pounds requires taking in less energy than you are using up. This equation has two parts: how much you eat and how much you exercise. Changing either part calls for more effort than many of us can muster in an environment that encourages us to eat more and exercise less. No doubt that’s why new diets have such appeal, even though they are often a familiar approach recycled with a new twist.
There are so many diet plans out there that we can’t possibly tell you about each one. Instead, we will stick to some general guidelines that may help you figure out the best approach for you. This is an arena in which one size does not fit all and, sadly enough, there is no magic bullet. Getting weight under control can be quite a challenge, but it is also a great opportunity to improve your health.
Losing excess weight is notoriously difficult, but it can have a profound effect on health. Dropping pounds can help lower blood pressure and get cholesterol under control, as well as alleviating the strain on arthritic joints. Weight loss is probably approached best as a long-term change in lifestyle rather than a short-term goal. If Weight Watchers or a similar program that offers social support appeals to you, by all means try it out. Here are some other suggestions that may help.
- Find a diet plan that appeals to you. The only program that will work is one that you can stick with long-term.
- Keep a dietary diary. Write down every single morsel that you stick in your mouth and when. Most of the weight loss gurus that we have consulted over the last few decades emphasize that this one behavior is essential for lasting success.
- Eat a high-protein breakfast. No more bagels and butter. Skip the orange juice and coffee. A low-glycemic-index meal will carry you through to lunch.
- Find an exercise you like. Get a pedometer and strive for 10,000 steps a day. Plot your prog-ress in your dietary diary or on a computer.
- If you need a pharmacological boost, consider Alli (orlistat). This fat blocker may help you lose a few pounds, though the side effects might be embarrassing. Don’t forget to take your vitamins if you take this drug.
- If all else fails, Acomplia (rimonabant) may provide the help you need to lose weight, improve your cardiometabolic risk factors, and quit smoking. Check with your doctor about the benefits and risks of this prescription drug.