D.R. Doesn’t Stand For Dietitian

There are times when I hear a member give nutritional advice to another member based upon what has worked for her. This upsets me because I know that even though the member has lost weight and wants this other person to lose weight too, the tips she suggests doesn’t work long-term. Getting the right nutritional advice for weight loss should come from someone who specializes in this area, such as a Licensed (LD) or Registered Dietitian (RD). I know this sounds common sense, but I’ll let you in on a secret, not many people see a dietitian when it comes to weight management. Even when the studies show that incorporating a registered dietitian into a weight loss program increases success rates, we steer clear from making an appointment with one. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) conducted a multi-year study in 2010 to research the benefits of adding a RD to a health promotion program for weight loss. The results showed programs with a RD had participants losing at least 5% of their current body weight.  Yet we feel like we know enough through what we read and hear from books, media, friends, and other professionals, that we go on these crazy “instant diets” only to succumb in the end to hunger and eventually weight gain.

The worst of all is that you justify the misfortunes of gaining back all your weight by telling yourself that you did it once and it was easy, so you’ll go back on the same diet and start back on phase one. The other option that I’ve seen is that it didn’t work and this shouldn’t have happened because the books were written by doctors, fitness professionals, or celebrities.  Then we go out and pick up another book off the shelf because some top-rated talk show host told you to buy it. This leads to more depression when you find out that the next “quick fix” book leads to another quick turn-around and the weight is back on.

I just received the latest issue (April 16, 2012) of Newsweek in the mail and on the cover was Dr. Phil (Click on photo to read the article). Now, I want to know how many people think that because he has the title “Dr.” in front of his name it suddenly makes him a physician or registered dietitian? The article is now one of my favorites because it exposes what celebrity talk-show hosts will do to get something sold. The whole article describes how Dr. Phil McGraw used his show to promote not just one, but two diet books that his son published. The craziness of it all is that Dr. Phil opposes diets! In a show back in 2010, he states, “Do you know that people that go on diets gain more weight during the year than people who don’t?” This is coming from a person who suddenly flips the switch later that year to promote extensively (the article claims that Dr. Phil pushed the book in 17 episodes and mentioned the book  27 times in one episode!) a diet book that claims to lose 10 to 15 pounds in just 17 days. This just doesn’t seem like a person who you’d want giving you nutritional advice.

Now I need to give Dr. Phil some credit, he is not a M.D., but he is a Ph.D psychologist who too had troubles with weight. He’s worked his magic by understanding how the human mind works and finding ways to profit from his knowledge. After leaving the clinical psychology gig, he hit a gold mine representing Oprah in a court case when he cofounded Courtroom Sciences, Inc. He was able to network with Oprah to become “one of the wealthiest and most powerful figures on television” describes Forbes magazine. So he’s able to get his own television show and get people to listen to him and suddenly everyone’s trying to lose weight quickly. That’s how it goes with all quick fix diets. Just read about your fad diets like Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers or watch the commercials for Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, and any other infomercials on Saturday mornings. You’ll lose weight in a jiffy, but what they don’t tell you is how quickly those pounds come back.

Weight management is really about keeping your calories in balance. Calories in verses calories out. If you eat more than you burn off; weight gain. Eat less than you burn off; weight loss. Very simple idea, but so many people have a problem with this concept (hence the 33% of Americans who are overweight). One reason is because people don’t want to wait for the results. They want everything quick. Just ask yourself, “how long did it take you to get to your current weight?” Most likely it didn’t happen overnight. Therefore, the only way to lose weight long-term is the slow method. Losing one to two pounds a week by having a deficit of 3500 cal/wk is the only healthy and known long-term plan for weight loss. Know what you’re eating so you can stay one step ahead. This is where a dietitian or nutritionist can help to teach you which foods you should eat to maintain the energy level you need without stacking on the extra calories. Even your general physician will not be able to tell you what to eat and will refer you to a dietitian. The other component to this equation is the physical activity. I do not require people to join a gym to obtain their cardiovascular exercise. However a facility that provides resistance training will help keep your muscle strength while you lose the weight. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 45 to 60 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise to lose weight. Studies have shown that exercising five to six days a week at 60 to 80 minutes a day leads to scientifically significant results. Biking, walking, running, kayaking, hiking, and playing sports can all count for cardiovascular exercise.  Combine exercise with a well-balanced meal and you’ll be shedding those pounds for good in no time.

ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 8th ed. (2010), Weight Management
American Dietetic Association, ADA Foundation 2010 Annual Report, p. 4

Wingert, P. & Roston, A. (2012). All in the Family. Newsweek, 28-33

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