You might be thinking what is this about? A weight loss toolbox? I will illustrate why a toolbox is necessary for achieving long term weight loss, and if you understand its importance you just might adapt a toolbox for other areas of your life. In my practice helping my patients compile their tool box, has helped them achieve long term weight loss. It has also helped them with other goals they wanted to achieve.
The building trades begin new projects by submitting an estimate of what the work will cost as well as what steps need to be taken. Upon acceptance of the project a calendar is presented along with pictures of the finished project. A carpenter uses his tools to cut the materials down to the required size, smooth rough edges, and uses rulers to measure at the beginning, middle and end of each project.
Similar requirements apply to the fashion industry, starting with a proposal and estimate of cost and time until completion. Upon award of a project a time line is created and a picture of the completed garments is submitted. The actual work starts with many stages of approval before proceeding. At each phase there is reassessment and agreement on how to proceed.
Let’s look at the fields of education. There are up front requirements towards achieving a specific bachelor’s, masters and doctorate degrees. High school diplomas and satisfactory report cards in elementary school don’t just happen. A lot of time management and study skills need to be adopted. There are also lessons learned from disappointing grades.
So let’s begin with a weight loss tool box. This is customized but for this purpose it will be generic. We need to create an estimate of what needs to be accomplished. How much weight loss? Are there additional considerations, for example, lower laboratory values? Is more muscle tone, increased energy and flexibility an important goal to include? Are added coping strategies necessary to address stress management?
Next we create the vision of you having achieved your weight loss and whatever else you specified. Many times this occurs with a dress or other article of clothing that no longer fits. Pictures of a former self have been successful visions for motivation. My patients are very creative so there are many different tools for vision motivation.
A calendar is another important tool. Having realistic achievable goals will not bring disappointment in terms of backsliding. Ten per cent weight loss in six months is a realistic expectation. In three to six months there should be significant improvement for example in cholesterol numbers. Along the way to sustain motivation we can break down the calendar to achieve short term goals. Just like the carpenter that needs to smooth rough edges my job includes smoothing over obstacles that have caused past failures.
Next in our tool box are the measurements. These measurements include your weight, height, genetics, and laboratory values. I also include waist circumference, body mass index, triceps, and hip and thigh numbers. Clothing size can also be included as a measurement. Last part of the initial assessment is lifestyle, including fitness level, flexibility, stamina, and stress levels.
Once we have these tools a plan of action is the next step. There are always bumps along the way. As each short term goal is achieved the toolbox gets filled with education on what to eat, when and portion control. Learning how much activity is required for weight loss and other very important behavior changes are more tools for the tool box.
By the time the final” project” is unveiled the new person on the outside is also a new educated confident person on the inside.
I must include the importance of maintaining the newly achieved goals. It is necessary to maintain these changes for at least three months before revisiting and assessing whether new goals need to be accomplished. If you are wondering if there is a different tool box for maintenance yes, there is. But I will address that at another time.