Which is More Effective: Commercial Weight Loss Programs or Advice from a Diet Doctor?

Common sense tells us that no one can make us lose weight. We are the only ones who can control what we put into our stomachs and how much activity we get. You can go to your primary care physician for a diet to follow and medical support; however, your doctor is likely to refer you to a nutritionist or a dietitian. My personal care physician will not give her patients any diet to follow. She just says to eat more of the less calorie dense foods and less of the foods that denser in calories. It makes sense, right? Then why do we have such a problem with weight control? One of the biggest problems that we have is that we are used to going on diets rather than choosing a lifestyle of healthy eating.

I’ve been large all my life. I came from parents that were overweight. From the time I was 10 years old my mom took me to doctor for diets. By the time I was 16 my doctor put me on diet pills. All they did was make me hyper where I couldn’t sleep. They did make me anorexic for a while, but eventually my appetite came back. Even as an adult, my previous doctors shoved a sheet of paper at me that had their diet plan on it. When I was in my 30s, my personal care physician sent me to a diet doctor’s weight loss clinic for a liquid diet. The object was to put me into ketosis so that I wouldn’t be hungry. Right! I lost some weight, and I lost a bunch of hair too. I was in ketosis for so long that my hair was falling out. I still was hungry too, but I stuck to it long enough to lose about 40 pounds. My problem was that I wanted to eat so badly I went on eating binges. Then I felt guilty for eating and I would make myself throw up. Finally, I gave myself cheat days where I ate whatever I wanted to and then starved myself with the liquid for the rest of the week. That didn’t help me lose weight; in fact, I began gaining again. My diet doctor just said “You can’t be hungry. You just want to eat.” Well, yes, I did want to eat, but it was because I was hungry!

That same doctor that gave me the liquid diet offered me a different diet. It was a cookie diet. There were 6 cookies that I could eat a day. They were very dense and seemed to get bigger in my mouth as I chewed them. I was allowed to eat one salad a day with no salad dressing. I was still hungry all the time, and of course I cheated and I didn’t lose weight. Whether I lost weight or not, the doctor was making money. These doctors get paid big bucks to starve you, and you may lose weight, but then you could be at risk for health problems and at risk for gaining the weight back too, because these diets don’t teach us healthy eating habits. The only reason I stopped going to this diet doctor’s weight loss clinic is because he died. He was found dead in his office on the morning of one of my appointments. I parked my car and went to the door and there was a sign that the office was closed. I found out later that the diet doctor had died of a heart attack. He was a young man, still paying off student loans. He confided to me once that people like me kept him in business. He also went on to say that if I were dropped off in a 3rd world country where there was no food, I would live for several years on the fat on my body. That was a true statement, but I don’t think it was kind of him to say so.

I gave up on diet doctors in 2001. I saw a surgeon and elected to have a gastric bypass. I do believe that, at the time, the bypass saved my life. I was a bit over 400 pounds at that time. During the first 18 months I lost 140 pounds. The problem with the gastric bypass is that there is about an 18 month to 2 year window where we are able to lose weight through decreased food intake and malabsorption. After awhile the stomach stretches to eat more food, so if you aren’t careful about what you put into your stomach, you will gain weight. I gained about 70 pounds back over the next 5 years. I was worried about gaining all of my weight back. I even considered having the gastric bypass redone. Every doctor that I talked to told me that they wouldn’t even attempt to operate on me again, because my chances of dying or becoming severely ill were quite high.

One day I went to my doctor crying about how I was gaining weight, and the bypass wasn’t working anymore. This was the first time that I actually heard my doctor say the words “change your lifestyle.” My doctor suggested that I go to a commercial weight loss program. There were several out there. I had tried Jenny Craig and paid upfront for the program, and all I did was lose my money. I don’t think I ever lost a pound. I quit going. Later on, I decided to try Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers has had a lot of success helping people lose the pounds that hold them back from enjoying life.

I found that a commercial weight loss program, such as Weight Watchers, is much more effective in helping people lose weight than going to some of these diet doctors and weight loss clinics that advocate drinking shakes or eating cookies instead of eating real food. When I follow the program, I lose weight. With Weight Watchers you count points. You are given a set number of points according to your weight and lifestyle. As your weight comes down, your daily points come down also. You have extra points you can use during the week for those special treats you like to eat. The key to using a weight loss program like Weight Watchers is that you must keep counting your points each day. You will likely find that when you gained weight was when you ate more points than you should have in a day, or that you didn’t count all your points.

Who can say what the best weight loss program is? The best weight loss program will be the one that works for you. It might be that you can cut calories on your own. It might be that you do best with a diet doctor’s weight loss clinic, or it might be that you do best with a free or commercial weight loss program. It’s ultimately up to us. A program can’t make us lose weight, and a doctor can’t work magic either. It comes down to changing our lifestyle. If we don’t make lifestyle changes, we might lose weight and then gain it back later. That steady back and forth yo-yo syndrome of losing and gaining weight is far more dangerous than not losing weight at all. Do you research and also talk to your primary care physician about the various weight loss programs available. Once you have researched, you be the judge of which is the best weight loss program for you.



Weight Watchers (WebMD)

Liquid Diets (WebMD)

Personal Experience

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