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What our patients have learned this year

As the year draws to a close, it's natural for us to reflect on the past 12 months and the valuable insights gained from our experiences. This is a great time for reflection and looking forward to the new year. In the spirit of reflection, I recently began asking patients what the most valuable thing they learned since since embarking on their weight loss journey with us. Through this, I had some great conversations which revealed some key focal points essential for achieving success in weight loss. Let's delve into these crucial insights that can guide you on your own path to a healthier lifestyle.

One of our patients mentioned recently a major mindset shift that contributed to her successful weight loss — adopting a more realistic approach to her goals and the timeline for her weight loss journey. Recognizing that a healthy weight loss is slow, at a rate of about 1-2 pounds per week. She understood the importance of avoiding rapid loss, which could compromise muscle instead of burning body fat. Body fat loss cannot be rushed. This awareness helped set realistic expectations for her progress, preventing feelings of discouragement and the temptation to give up. Changing habits, particularly those related to healthy eating, is a process that requires time and patience. She emphasized the significance of starting gradually with dietary changes, acknowledging that Rome wasn't built in a day.
Perfection in one's diet isn't an immediate necessity. Taking a measured and deliberate approach to lifestyle changes proves to be more achievable and sustainable over time. Remember, you have the time to make lasting improvements!

Another patient shared a key insight into their success in weight loss which involved changing their approach. Rather than adopting an all-or-nothing mentality, they found success by prioritizing balance in their weight loss efforts. Many of our patients adhere to the 80-20 rule, committing to meal plan recommendations 80% of the time while allowing for indulgences in their favorite foods 20% of the time. Whether it's dining out once a week or enjoying a treat twice a week, the emphasis lies in permitting oneself these moments without guilt. You often will hear that consistency is key. Well, in reality, consistency is eating healthy most of the time, not all of the time. We often encourage the idea of satisfying cravings and then moving forward, finding that this approach reduces the emotional charge around certain foods. By allowing occasional indulgences, the drama associated with cravings diminishes, contributing
to a more sustainable and long-term shift in eating habits.

Our most successful patients tend to view their change in habits as a lifestyle change. They find that adopting this mindset can help prevent weight regain. Patients often ask me what their diet might look like after reaching their goal. The response is surprisingly simple: it closely resembles the habits cultivated during the weight loss journey. The key lies in maintaining a focus on consistently making healthy food choices and adhering to a regular exercise routine. Opting for temporary, restrictive, and aggressive diets often falls short in ensuring lasting results. The key to long term success is discovering a routine that promotes
health, aligns with the realities of your life, and stands the test of time.

A distinctive feature of our program lies in its ability to precisely monitor shifts in body composition throughout your weight loss journey. Many patients find this extremely helpful for understanding how their bodies respond to various eating habits, patterns, and exercise routines. Many patients come to the realization that weight loss can stem from a reduction in muscle mass, body fat, or a combination of both when the diet lacks proper monitoring. During my discussions with patients about their most valuable lessons since joining the program, a recurring theme emerged: understanding the significance of meeting protein needs for preserving skeletal muscle mass during the weight loss process.

As we wrap up this year, it becomes clear that the most valuable lessons extend beyond the numbers on a scale. What’s more important is having a balanced approach, and a commitment to long-term lifestyle changes. These insights, ranging from embracing a slow and steady pace to finding harmony in the 80-20 rule, encapsulate our recommendations for long-term health and healing. Remember, the journey to a healthier lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint.
As we step into the new year, let these lessons guide us towards lasting improvements and well-being. Here's to embracing change, cultivating balance, and making choices that stand the test of time. Wishing you a joyous and healthy new year ahead!

For more support for your weight loss journey, consult with the NPWC team for assistance in achieving your health goals. Our multidisciplinary team can offer you tailored nutrition guidance to help you balance all of the important factors that can help you lose weight. To get started, reach out by calling our office to schedule a visit with one of our providers. We have offices in Fairfax, Arlington, Lansdowne, and Vienna, Virginia. New and existing patients can also schedule telehealth visits.

Caroline Tussing, RDN, CPT

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