The Truth About Obesity and Weight Loss

June 21, 2021

Hey, y’all! As many of you know, I have been on a weight loss journey since March 2020. My number one goal has been to improve my health and the quality of life – and my chosen mechanism was weight loss. I thank each of you for joining me from near and far + for cheering me on as I venture to lose 225 lbs! While I can chat all day about weight loss tips, it’s more important that I address the elephant in the room: the stigma of involving healthcare providers in your weight loss journey. Join me as I unveil the truth about obesity and weight loss.

I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk Inc. to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own.

The Truth About Obesity and Weight Loss

This post is arguably one of the most important posts that I have published to date. Why? It hits entirely close to home. I’m passionate about fighting obesity – and the many stigmas that surround it – because I, myself, have obesity (and have for the majority of my life). While I am doing my best to change my life, I was just under 500 lbs prior to weight loss. I know that I am not alone in this fight: around the world, around the United States, and more specifically here in Kentucky. Obesity plagues our Commonwealth, the land that I am proud to call home, and I want to do my part in helping the discourse in Kentucky.

My goal here is to empower you with the knowledge that you need to feel confident discussing weight management with healthcare providers; help you set realistic goals for weight loss and long-term weight maintenance; identify weight management strategies to best achieve your goals; and lastly, but vitally, to improve your familiarity with available weight management strategies.

About Dr. Stanford

Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, MBA, FAAP, FACP, FAHA, FAMWA, FTOS is an obesity medicine physician scientist, educator, and policy maker at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. She is a national and international sought after expert in obesity medicine who bridges the intersection of medicine, public health, policy, and disparities. I have immensely learned from Dr. Stanford and I am proud to work alongside her to advocate for the truth amidst the obesity + weight loss discourse.

Debunking Common Myths: The Truth About Obesity and Weight Loss

Myth: Calories In vs Calories Out + the Myth of Willpower

In short: many of the things that we have heard as obese/overweight individuals are, in fact, a fallacy. These fallacies get in the way of healthy weight loss programs. One of the biggest? Willpower! Did you know that our brains control our weight? In fact, bodily substances have an effect on our appetite + there are innate external and internal factors that can lead to weight gain.

How can we combat the myth of willpower? Advocate for yourself + your health!
  1. We must strive to be prepared to talk to our healthcare providers, enabling ourselves to advocate regarding our weight management needs and goals. To do this, it’s important to find a healthcare provider that you are comfortable with; together, with their guidance, you can find an effective plan for long-term weight management.
  2. Remember: diet and exercise needs to be individualized for each person; further, exercise – for the majority of individuals – eventually leads to weight maintenance, not weight loss.
  3. Lastly, note that there are other things to consider, in addition to diet and exercise, that may help you meet your needs and goals: increasing sleep quality, for example.

Myth: Intervention + Medication Are Weaknesses

Let’s make one thing clear: intervention by a healthcare provider + medication is not a weakness; does not make you weak; nor does it invalidate your weight loss journey. Why? This is a long-term process! Dr. Stanford argues that weight loss success means maintaining a weight loss over 10-20 years. With a time frame that large, maintenance is equally a part of the labor.

Dr. Stanford asks each of her patients the following question: “How can I improve your health and help you sustain the weight loss indefinitely?” This, by her standard, reframes our thinking — it helps us, the patient, realize that obesity is a disease; diseases, by nature, require treatment and we are justified in doing so. An essential benefit of working with a medical provider is that they can guide you in electing the correct treatment for your circumstances: surgery, diet, exercise, medication, and/or a combination.

How can we combat the myth that intervention and medication are weaknesses? Reframe our thinking.
  1. Medication as treatment is a justified route, as obesity is a disease. It is critical to accept that obesity is a disease and medication as a natural part of disease mitigation. If someone has diabetes or hypertension, they take medication for those diseases; why shouldn’t we for obesity?
  2. There’s a weight bias in medicine that makes us believe that surgery is a last resort. This is not true – think of weight loss surgery as one of the tools in our arsenal to combat the disease.
The Truth About Weight Loss

Debunking My Own Myths

My weight has been a volatile journey my entire life – and I am taking a vow to advocate for both myself and my health in fighting the disease. The above myths and tips from Dr. Stanford have inspired me to continue along the difficult process of losing weight; to seek medical guidance in learning how to maintain my weight loss; and to consider medication as a means of maintaining the disease. Why? Because I – my body, my health, my life – is worth it. You are worth it, too.

From a variety of disordered eating, most notably binge eating, to skewed body image, to topping out at almost 500 lbs – this disease has had a toll on my life. But, I won’t succumb to it — there are too many tools available to do that!

I’ve spent immense time in this post discussing obesity/weight loss myths + debunking them. However, what’s my personal truth? Obesity is the most poignant disease that I’ve ever known; if you are in the same boat, please know that you are not alone. I am in your corner + your medical providers are in your corner; if they are not, seek another specialist. With the help of professionals, we can develop plans that are sustainable. To learn more, look for recorded versions of conversations between Dr. Stanford, myself, and other influencers on the Med-IQ Facebook page.

Obesity Resources: The Truth About Obesity and Weight Loss

Links to external sites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They are not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice, nor are they endorsements of any organization. Med-IQ bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of any external site. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.

PBS NOVA: The Truth About Fat (April 2020)

Dr. Stanford: Obesity: It’s More Complex than You Think (April 2018)

Dr. Stanford: Facing Overweight and Obesity (book, February 2019)

Advocate for Research

Research regarding obesity is ongoing — and y’all have an opportunity to be a part of it.

Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate.

Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about the challenges you have experienced when trying to lose and maintain weight and any strategies that you have used, which will help us develop future educational initiatives.

Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 6 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will be used to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize.

Take the survey here.

The Truth About Weight Loss

How do you plan to advocate for either yourself or a loved one in the fight against obesity? I’d love to know!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

Keep Up With JCP Eats

Thank you so much for visiting the blog today! I’d love to keep in touch via social media. You can follow my content on InstagramFacebookPinterestTik TokTwitter, and LinkedIn. I also author a sister website to JCP Eats, Unabashedly Southern, on which I write about southern lifestyle. Read Unabashedly Southern here.

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