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Common weight management barriers that could be derailing your efforts

Last Modified: December 12, 2022

weight mgmt

This post was written based on a recent appearance by Ryan Singerman, DO, PPG – Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery, on the television program PBS HealthLine.

A weight management physician provides a brief overview of some of the complexities behind weight management while offering guidance on a few of the most common questions he encounters.

When trying to lose or maintain weight, there is a standard equation everyone knows to be true. But what if it weren’t that simple? The current cultural model is to eat less, move more, and then you will lose weight. Unfortunately, sticking with that notion doesn’t always work because the disease of obesity is highly complicated. There’s a lot that goes into detailing the condition, but we can narrow the focus down to a few key components that significantly impact your weight and body. The factors that drive the disease of obesity include:

  • Genetics
  • Physiology
  • Psychology
  • Nutrition
  • Medications
  • Social factors

What people don’t realize is that there are roughly 57 different types of obesity, which makes it so tricky and downright challenging to achieve your goals. There are no one-size-fits-all or quick fixes when it comes to losing weight, despite what tv commercials or social media will have you believe.

weight mgmt graphic

Fortunately, there is a newer model of weight loss and maintenance that I like to share with patients. It breaks the old version into two main categories: individual and medical influences. The individual influences include calories and activity. The number of calories you consume and how much you exercise are both things that you can control on your own. The medical influences include your metabolism, hunger hormones and fullness hormones. These items are much more challenging and may require you to seek additional assistance from a physician to gain control of those aspects of your health.

Common barriers to successful weight loss and management

Obesity has become a serious health problem across the country. There are a number of different barriers derailing people and making it extremely difficult to manage and maintain a healthy body weight successfully. Some of those include the categories I mentioned earlier, while others are more specific to an individual’s environment and situation (i.e., time, money, access to quality fresh fruits and fresh vegetables, nutrition education, and more). But, despite all these things, there are a few questions I encounter the most when speaking with patients. I want to address a few of those now.

Question No. 1 – How does psychology come into play when losing or maintaining my weight?

Honestly, many psychological factors can affect your relationship with food and play a significant role in your weight management. For instance, some individuals dealing with anxiety or depression often reach for food to comfort themselves because that consumption increases those feel-good chemicals in the brain, causing your mood to elevate. Now, this is only one explanation and a very brief example within a vast sea of complexities regarding someone’s psychological connection with food. We could go on for days. Countless factors come into play for each person and their specific circumstances. For that reason, we must partner with people and walk alongside them on their health journey to help them be successful in their goals.

Question No. 2 – Could my medication affect my weight, and how can I manage it?

Many medicines can impact and influence your body by either gaining, retaining or making it more difficult to lose weight. For example, some blood pressure medicines work by slowing your heart rate down, but this decrease can also affect your body’s ability to lose weight. However, that does not mean you should stop taking these medications. Instead, if you have any concerns about the medicines you are taking and their effect on your body, you must speak with your primary care provider before making any changes to your current regimen. Have an open dialogue with your physician because they can help answer your questions and find the proper medication and dosage for your specific situation.

Question No. 3 – How can I gain weight healthily after a recent illness?

Another question I often hear is how to gain weight healthily after a disease or illness. A great example of this is someone battling cancer and is now trying to get back to a healthy weight. First, there are many reasons why someone would lose weight with cancer. It can be due to the disease itself or the treatment and therapy helping to defeat the cancer. Either way, when it comes to gaining and achieving a healthy body weight, especially following an illness, there are a few questions that need answering, including:

  • Is this a hunger issue? Do you not feel appropriately hungry?
  • How many calories are you currently getting, and what do they consist of?
  • What is an appropriate calorie balance for your current needs?

We want to find a healthy balance between fats, proteins and carbohydrates without consuming too many extra sugars. An imbalance or excess of carbohydrates and sugars can cause significant health problems and even lead to an increased risk of diabetes or insulin resistance. For help finding the appropriate intake for your height, weight, age and circumstance, we suggest speaking with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian.

Ask for help

It’s not always easy, but there are steps you can take and resources you can utilize if you are struggling to lose weight. Seeking assistance from a medical provider familiar with obesity medicine is a great place to start, especially when medications, additional advice, nutritional education with a dietitian, and/or counseling may be beneficial. Remember, obesity is a disease, and your physician can be an ally in fighting it.