By Matthias Muenzer, M.D.
Hallmark Health Medical Associates
Dr. Matthias Muenzer
A couple years ago, I decided enough was enough. I needed to lose weight.
Many of my OB/GYN patients were battling obesity, and I was giving them weight loss advice, but I wasn’t following it myself. It was time.
Several years ago, I noticed that weight gain slowed considerably for my pregnant patients who followed a diabetic diet. When my patients started gaining too much weight, I told them to avoid foods that caused blood sugar spikes, such as potatoes, waffles and even sports drinks.
The advice I gave to my female patients was also something I could take to heart as a man.
In the fall of 2013, I changed my diet in the same kind of way. I closely monitored the glycemic index of foods I was eating. I made it a priority to eat mostly foods with a glycemic index of 55 or less.
Before long, I was down 20 pounds. I was surprised by how much extra energy I had as a result. The more weight I lost, the more desire I had to exercise again. I started sleeping better, too.
Perhaps more importantly, I realized I wasn’t doomed to gain more weight every single year. My new lifestyle fascinated me – I started reading about food, diets, exercise, mental health and wellbeing. At the end of three months, I was 30 pounds lighter.
What I learned as I was losing weight
As I started losing weight, I learned quite a bit about myself and my relationship with food. I realized food has a vast influence on my body and my mind – an influence I had underestimated my entire life.
We don’t eat just to provide nutrition to our body. Many of us have a deep, emotional relationship with our food. We eat to feel comfort, to reward ourselves or to suppress feelings. Detaching the emotional connection is a crucial part of regaining control of your diet.
In the clinic, I provide preventive care such as pelvic exams, breast exams and pap smears. Those are very important steps toward a healthy life, but for a lot of my patients, the most significant issue is their weight. Obesity is a risk factor for so many diseases, including cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure, but it’s something we can choose to control.
Losing weight requires two decisions and lots of determination:
- You have to decide to change your lifestyle
- And then you have to do it
Nothing will change if you don’t do things differently. You’ll weigh the same, have the same fitness level and have the same inner peace – or lack thereof – as you do today.
My dietary recommendations
Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand to achieve weight loss, but not at the same level. Weight loss depends much more on what you eat than how much you exercise. In fact, some have estimated 80 to 90 percent of your weight depends on your diet, and only 10 to 20 percent is based on your exercise regimen.
This shouldn’t be that surprising. One piece of cheesecake can pack as much as 700 calories, and to burn that many calories you’d have to jog for more than an hour. Avoiding the cheesecake is much more efficient!
The most important dietary advice I can give you is this: Avoid processed foods! Processing usually adds unhealthy saturated fats, sugar, salt, preservatives and an assortment of chemicals. Food manufacturers often remove omega-3 fatty acids, which help protect us from conditions such as diabetes, arteriosclerosis, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease, because they shorten the shelf life of food.
To lose weight, make these foods the focus of your diet:
- Lots of fruit, vegetables and salads (but avoid potatoes).
- Fish (preferably wild-caught, rather than farmed). Salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring are all good choices.
- Lean meat, preferably from grass-fed animals. Chicken and turkey are ideal. Venison, buffalo and bison also are OK. Eat red meat sparingly.
- Nuts and seeds. Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, flaxseed and sesame seeds are healthy choices.
- Use herbs and spices to add taste to your food, rather than salt.
- Eat natural, fresh, whole foods
- Eat local foods, such as those you could buy at a farmer’s market
- Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Skipping meals makes the body think it will not get enough food, so it switches into “starvation mode” and holds on to body fat. Surprisingly, you have to eat in order to lose weight.
- “After 6 it sticks” – Avoid eating foods that are high in carbohydrates after 6 p.m. Try to avoid eating anything within three hours of going to bed.
- Avoid fruit juices. Eat apples instead of drinking apple juice. Eat oranges instead of drinking orange juice.
- Drink lots of water. I recommend one glass of water every hour or two, or about a gallon a day. Hydration increases metabolism and a higher metabolic rate helps you lose weight.
Keep in mind, it takes so much more than “doctor’s orders” to lose weight. It starts with you! Your current level of health is based on your past decisions and the way you live now. But change is possible – I’m proof of that.
(There is no guarantee of results. Results may vary.)