Many of you have not only come to me to ask about what and how you should be eating, but have also shown interest in the data behind weight loss. The problem is that the science is constantly changing. So today, I’ll be addressing all the ways to eat and how to decipher what really works for you.
The potential many of these diets have to help you lose weight is real, but I’ll fill you in on the main downfall of all of them. Listen in as I unpack the way most diet programs work, why they work, and why they don’t. You will also learn why your eating isn’t about the food and what needs to go on in your mind to find a sustainable weight loss program.
Katrina Ubell: You are listening to the Weight Loss for Busy Physicians Podcast with Katrina Ubell, MD, episode number 132.
Welcome to Weight Loss for Busy Physicians, the podcast where busy doctors like you get the practice solutions and support you need to permanently lose the weight so you can feel better and have the life you want. If you’re looking overcome your stress eating and exhaustion and move into freedom around food, you’re in the right place.
Hey, what’s up, my friends? How is it going? So glad to be here. It’s actually 10:00 at night. I am recording this podcast for you for a couple of reasons. I had just had the most amazing call. I don’t know if I have told you guys, but I now have my regular six-month long Weight Loss for Doctors Only program, but I also have a continuation program for those who’ve completed that program, and it is absolutely amazing, and I had a call for them. It’s just so fun. I just love them so much. We just have the best time.
Anyway, I finished that up, I have to get this podcast recorded because I am getting a new desk tomorrow, and so I have to tear my office up. We recently got our first floor repainted, and I found this desk, it’s kind of a long story, but I found it… It’s actually Swedish. I’ve been waiting, no joke, literally six months for all the pieces to arrive. But it’s going to be awesome because my closet office, it’s so tiny. This is going to take up less space, so it should feel slightly less closet-ish in here, which I’m looking forward to, but basically, the piece is it all hangs off of the wall. Matt and I are definitely not people who should be insignia something like that that’s going to hold weight and computers and important things like that.
We have hired someone to come, a professional to come and hang that, and he’s coming tomorrow. I think that’s a great idea, but that means that I’m not able to record a podcast while all that stuff is going on, and I have to get it done for you guys, so here I am, super excited. 10:00 p.m. Let’s do it. 10:04. I’m in. Let’s go.
All right, so first of all, I want to just let you know that next week, I have a webinar that I think you’re going to want to attend. It’s called “How To Lose Weight For The Last Time.” It is next week, next Wednesday, on July 31st, it’s at 8:30 p.m. Eastern or 5:30 p.m. Pacific, and I think you’re not going to want to miss it because here’s the deal: Summer is hard. There are a lot of challenges to losing weight in the summer. I have always said this, for me at least, losing weight in the summer is the hardest time of year. It’s harder for me even on the holidays. There’s just so much fun stuff to do, and lots of celebrations, and it just really can be challenging, so I can’t wait to share with you how to navigate all of that and lose that weight for the last time.
For you to join me, you will need to register. To do that, go to katrinaubellmd.com/loseweight, L-O-S-E W-E-I-G-H-T. Again, katrinaubellmd.com/loseweight, and you can just register there. We’ll get together. I’m going to teach you some really important things about to lose weight so that you can really get it going, get that weight off, and have it be the last time. We’re tired of this on-off weight loss business.
I want to talk to you today about choosing the right weight loss program for you and finding it. So many of you come to me and ask me how you should be eating. Since most of you are physicians, you also want to know the research, then you want to know what the data shows, you want to know what the science indicates is the best and most effective method of losing weight, but if you’ve been following the scientific literature on weight loss for longer than, really, about like three seconds, then you know that the science is changing all of the time.
I mean, for so long, we thought that eating low-fat was going to be the solution. Remember, SnackWell’s? All that did was jack up our hormones and make us fatter than ever. I mean, remember, Olean or Olestra? Remember that, that “fat-free fat,” in quotes. That was basically indigestible. I mean, we humans created something that had anal leakage as one of the primary side effects, all in the name of eating a low-fat diet. Remember that? So funny. I don’t think I ever tried it. I was too scared. I was like, “Anal leakage? No thanks.”
But over the years, dairy has been out, and then in again. Gluten has been out, and then in again if you’re not sensitive. There’s all kinds of elimination diets. Now there’s keto and paleo and Whole30 and leptin-free and vegan and vegetarian and counting points and counting calories and counting macros and eating small meals five to six times per day and eating soy-free or green-free or oil-free, but not fat-free. Just not oil. You can have other fat, but just not oil. Low-carb, high-fat, and then back to high-carb, low-fat again. Some people are promoting that again now.
Here’s the thing. All of these ways of eating have the potential to help you lose weight. Every single one of them. Really. It’s truly true. We’re like, “Low-fat diets don’t work.” Well, they do when you don’t eat a whole bunch of crap with them. If you follow them, you generally will be able to lose weight. If you followed them forever, you’d keep that off. How are you supposed to decide from all of these different options? It really can feel so overwhelming, but the real kicker with having so many options with weight loss is how easy it is to switch around.
Here’s that thing, when you have only one good option and tons of terrible options, you’re so much more likely to keep going with a good option, even when it gets hard or boring. You’re just like, “No, this is the good option,” but these days, with so many options, when one thing isn’t working out, it’s very easy to believe that the problem is the program, and that’s just not the right one for you.
What we end up having then are what I like to call diet hoppers. When we’re wanting to leave the diet that’s uncomfortable and doesn’t seem to be working, which is usually code for the diet that I’m just not actually following anymore, then we’re diet shoppers. Have you ever diet shopped? I totally have. I would ask friends what they were doing. I searched online, I crowdsourced on Facebook, I watched videos, all trying to find that one person who is really going to understand me and what I needed.
But here’s the deal. Are there certain ways of eating that are more likely to help your body release extra fat than others? Based on the current research, yes, there are, and I told you all about it on the early episodes of this podcast, so if you haven’t listened to those, make sure you go back and listen. But if we’re being honest, will those recommendations change? Probably. They probably will. But it seems to make sense to follow what’s currently working now rather than trying the diets that we know don’t work, like lots of sugar and very low fat.
One of the biggest problems with any diet program you read about or sign up for is that they give you an eating plan. You might be like, “Wait. That’s a problem? Why is that a problem? That’s what I’m looking for.” But here’s the deal. This is what they do. They tell you what to eat and what not to eat. Some tell you how often to eat too. They give you recipes and meal plans and shopping lists. Some of them have apps. They make it as easy as possible, or at least they try to. They want to make it as easy for you to implement as possible so that you’ll stick with it and get some results. We love them for that. We want to outsource our overweight problem to someone else and get the solution just handed to us.
This all sounds amazing until we find out that it just doesn’t work that way, unfortunately. I really wish it did. This realization is really honestly kind of disappointing. I am all for outsourcing everything we possibly can, but weight loss just doesn’t work that way. In fact, I think it’s a good idea to outsource other things, like cleaning and laundry and yard work to free up the time that you need to do this work that’s required to lose weight, like actually finding that time by having other people do those things that you don’t need to be doing.
Losing weight is only partly about what foods you eat and when and how you prepare them. Yes, this is an important part, and it does need to be addressed, but it’s not the real solution, which is why so few people lose weight and keep it off after following one of these eating plans, like less than 1% of people keep it off. I mean, 1% if we’re being generous.
When you think about finding the right weight loss program for you, be sure that you understand what you’re really asking. What most of us are asking is, “How can I lose the most weight in the least amount of time possible?” We’re all in a hurry. We are not thinking about how sustainable it’ll be or if it’s a way of eating that we’re willing to commit to for life. I’ve even had the thought plenty of times, “Let me just do this to lose the weight, and then once I’m thin, then I’ll figure out how to eat to maintain.” Guess how many times that worked? Big, fat goose egg. Zero times.
What’s the part that’s missing, because pretty much all of the available weight loss programs will help you lose weight if you follow them and follow them forever. What’s missing is the help we need to figure out why we aren’t following them and following them forever. My physician clients are always surprised when they figure out that their overeating actually doesn’t have anything to do with the food. The food is just the way to deal with the negative emotions they’re feeling in their lives. So often, they’re like, “Hey, I know you always say that, but I kind of thought I was the exception, didn’t really apply to me, and oh, my gosh, it’s true. It’s really not about the food.” I’m like, “Yes, I’m telling you.”
They’re like the rest of us. They’re not walking around all day thinking, “Why am I not willing to feel my emotions?” They’re thinking, “Why can’t I stop eating against my own will? Why can’t I stop snacking and eating at night, especially after I promised myself earlier in the day that I wouldn’t do that?” Regular diet programs will just tell to try to not do that. They’ll literally just say, “When you want to snack, just don’t. Stay connected with that fit and trim body that you want. Don’t do it.”
I don’t know about you, that just never worked for me when I was super stressed at work or was more exhausted than I could ever imagine. There was more to it, and I didn’t know how to excavate that. I don’t think that I was even really aware that there was something else, but I did know that what I was doing was not working long-term. There had to be something else going on.
The right weight loss program for you is the one that you’re willing to follow for the rest of your life. When we hear that, though, we’re so reluctant. We’re reluctant to give up the food and the wine that brightens up our day or gives us something to look forward to or makes the bedtime routine tolerable or helps us connect with other people in our lives, and that reluctance is proof that there’s more to it than just the food. We have to learn how to live our lives without the food and maybe possibly alcohol, making life better. We have to learn how to make life better on our own without the food and alcohol.
This is exactly why I have my clients create their own eating plan. I don’t tell them what to eat. I give them suggestions and help and resources, but ultimately, they decide what their plan is because they’re the only one who knows their life and what will work for them. I always say that I haven’t found one doctor where we couldn’t come up with some solution that would work around their lifestyle. Each individual physician’s schedule and responsibilities vary so much that, honestly, there’s no possible way that I could create a blanket plan for everyone.
But by following some basic guidelines, and then creatively problem solving, we come up with a plan that really truly works for them. When you’re the one who’s created the plan, you own it. Nobody’s making you do it. There’s no outside person or program to rebel against. There’s nobody to people-please so you can get the gold star. All there is you and the plan you made, and that’s when you start figuring out what your relationship is with yourself and how much integrity you have with yourself. That’s when you open up the possibility of doing the real work that’s required of you to lose weight.
That real work is cleaning up your relationships, especially your relationship with yourself. It’s looking at what you think and believe about yourself and learning to not only accept yourself as you are, but actually loving yourself. It’s learning to be alone with yourself without distractions, like food, alcohol, technology, or otherwise. It’s being willing to feel all of your feelings. It’s being kind and gentle with yourself while still kicking butt and being the awesome badass that you are.
That’s ultimately what’s missing when we focus on how many grams of carbs we’re eating or how to still eat bread while staying in ketosis. All of that is just nonsense, those food discussions. While thinking about what you’re eating is necessary and useful at times, it can just turn into a complete distraction from what really needs to happen to solve a weight problem permanently, and that’s really what I see with so many women.
This is really the hard work that most people never do, and because they never do it, they spend their lives yo-yoing up and down and up and down, usually gaining evermore weight as they go along. I’m sure you can think of many people with this experience, including, possibly, yourself. How do you start digging in to this deeper stuff? Many of you tell me what you’ve tried thought downloads, but they just end up being like a to-do list or a superficial rundown of what happened that day. It’s kind of like a diary entry versus something that’s actually deeper and more meaningful.
Here the deal. That’s totally normal, especially at first, but what I want to do today is share with you a tool that has personally been hugely helpful for me. I think it’s a super way for you to get started with this thought work. The tool is called thinking time. It’s where you take time to think. Just think. There’s no distractions, no listening to podcasts or audiobooks or other content or any kind. Just turn your phone to Do Not Disturb mode. You dedicate that time to just being with yourself, and all you’re allowed to do is look around or at the window, and think.
I, personally, if possible, like to do my thinking time while walking, so a little bit meditative for me. Back in my days when I ran, this was a million years ago, I would often get a lot of really good thinking done while I was running, and so I can recreate that with walking now. But a thinking walk is not like a regular walk, so I can’t bring the dogs with me, I can’t listen to anything, like a podcast or anything. My only job is to walk and think, walk and think, walk and think.
It’s really important that you don’t have an agenda for your thinking time. You can’t have a goal to have something figured out or solved by the end of it. That goal will mess up your thinking time, actually. It’s just time to think, and what comes of it is what comes of it. You’re just open and accepting of that. But here’s why this is so powerful. Your brain is the most amazing computer that we have, way better than any machine built today. It has so many answers and so much insight for you, but you don’t know how to access all that wisdom because, for the most part, it’s getting drowned out by all of the visual and auditory input we have all day, listening to things and watching things and running from one thing to the next. We don’t even really know ourselves because we don’t spend any meaningful time with ourselves.
When we are looking to all these programs that have the answers for us, we think other people and other companies have the answers for us. We’re totally like, “No, no, no, no, no. That one blogger has the answer,” or, “Weight Watchers has the answer,” but here’s the deal. I mean, I think that most people would be doing that if that worked long-term. It might work short-term, but it’s probably not going to work long-term.
Instead of asking other people to come up with the solutions for you, what you do during thinking time is you create those solutions for yourself. This can be very uncomfortable though. Have you ever noticed, have you ever been in a restaurant… maybe this is you too, with one other person, so there’s the two of you there. The other person gets up to go to the bathroom, so one person gets up to go to the bathroom. It is like clockwork that the person still sitting there will pull their phone out and start looking at something on their phone. We are so uncomfortable sitting there by ourselves that we cannot even sit for a couple minutes while someone steps away for a moment.
I notice for myself doing that too, standing in line, thinking, “Oh, I should look on my phone,” or I’ll even think like, “Oh, this is a good time for me to just catch up on that one thing or send that one text or get that one thing done, reply to that email,” whatever it is, but I, on purpose, don’t let myself do that. If my husband gets up to step away for a moment, I will notice the desire and that urge to check my phone and just be with it and practice being with it. I’ll often tell myself, “No, this is good for me. This is good for me to be here and just do this.”
I do this pretty often. When I was just in Amsterdam a few weeks ago, I could’ve taken an Uber to the airport, and instead, I decided to take the public transportation and take the train. I’m like, “This is good for me. It’s good for me in a foreign country to figure out how to take the train to the airport when I have the time to spare.” It’s good to challenge yourself. Think about that. If you’re one of those people who has to have your phone in your face every second, you aren’t able to be with yourself, this is even 10 times more important for you. So, so, so important that you learn to spend some time with yourself and think.
If you do thinking time sitting down, feel free to write down your insights, a little harder when you’re walking, but you can do it when you get done, and you use the pen and paper to help you think when you’re sitting down doing thinking time. I don’t suggest that you do this on a computer because it’s too easy to get distracted with different notifications and beeps and boops and the apps doing things and showing you little numbers and stuff like that, so just avoid that.
You can just start and see where your brain takes you, or you could start with a question for yourself. There are so many good ones. I suggest that you think about what you want your next thinking time topics to be, and then keep a running list. You can be like, “Oh, hey, I should totally do some thinking time on that. Let me just write that down,” and then when thinking time comes, you pick your topic.
Here’s just a few ideas just off the top of my head. “Why do I always get so frustrated with my medical assistant?” That would be a good one. “What is my opinion of myself, and why?” “Why does it bother me when someone else is upset with me?” “What am I making my child’s behavior mean, about me and about my child?” “What do I really want to accomplish in my life?” “Where in my life am I doing really well, and why do I believe that about myself?” “What are all the things that I’m doing right now that are right?” I mean, I could literally go on and on.
Give yourself, aim for like half an hour if you have it. 45 minutes is even better, but five or 10 is a great place to start. Trust me. I’m the kind of person like, “Well, I don’t have an hour, so I might as well not start.” Just give yourself, carve out that time. Set a timer, and just think. Even if it’s just five minutes, it’s like a muscle. It will build. You’ll get better at it, and you’ll start to really love it. This will seriously change your life if you do it regularly. I promise.
All of this is what I help my physician clients with. We dig into the real meat of what’s going on behind the food and the overeating issues. If you’d like to learn more about how to get started with weight loss in a way that tackles all of these issues that it’s truly meaningful and long-lasting, please join me on my live training next week. You are not going to want to miss it. To register for that, go to katrinaubellmd.com/loseweight. Again, katrinaubellmd.com/ L-O-S-E W-E-I-G-H-T. I can’t wait to see you on there. All right, have a wonderful, wonderful day. I’m going to get ready for bed. You have a wonderful day, and I’ll talk to you next time. Take care. Bye-bye.
Did you know that you can find a lot more help from me on my website? Go to katrinaubellmd.com, and click on Free Resources.