Archive for the ‘Weight Loss Advice’ Category


Saturday, December 18th, 2010

One of the best tools in your disposal to set the expectations for yourself and to those around you is to say “I am in training.”  For many of my patients they truly are “in training.”  Training for a first ever 5K run/walk, training for a first ever bike ride tour or training for a first ever half marathon.  For each person, no matter their experience level and their goals, such endeavors do require training.  They require preparation, practice, focus and determination well before the event itself.  And for people who are in the midst of a weight loss journey or those who are working to maintain lost pounds, the sense of being “in training” stands as an important notice to everyone that expectations are different than they are for other people or for other times of the year.

I think back to high school and college days when the athletes would sometimes use this phrase to describe their own status in preparation for the season.  It generally meant no alcohol no drug use and it also involved an understanding of a certain set of behaviors that were expected in order to maintain good standing with the team or with the sport.  So too does being in training connote certain expectations for the person losing weight and keeping it off.  It means no wild indulgences, no binge drinking no excessive consumption of desserts and treats.  No “throw caution to the wind,” eating a box of candy or a tub of ice cream.  It means dedicating oneself to valuable goals to maintain attitude of fitness and a focus on healthy eating.

So set a goal for yourself.  Make a fitness display such as a race one of your goals, make a plan to prepare and, yes, train for it.  Then when occasions arise that would pull you off your path toward a healthier weight and improve fitness, remind yourself and those around that you are in training.  It will feel good.


Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

As the holidays approach we are all of course thinking about the wonderful time spent around the table eating cookies and holiday treats as well as having some big, terrific dinners with family and friends.  So if you are cooking or in charge of some the main meals like I am, what should you be preparing so as not to burst the waistlines?

Here are a few ideas that may help you stay focused on your goals of losing weight or maintaining weight through the holidays.

  1. Focus on family and friends and social connection rather than the food itself.  Remember to take time to enjoy the people, environment and activities as these are more important than the food itself.
  2. Be active!  Family walks, making snowmen, going ice skating, skiing and tobogganing are all fantastic, fun, family holiday events and are even more wonderful than sitting around the couch, turning on a ball game and devouring a giant bowl of chips.
  3. Think about protein first and think about minimizing the carbohydrates.  Yes, I know this sounds a bit Scrooge-like, but it does mean that you can enjoy some wonderful meals and not give away all the fun by remaining mindful of the nutritional content.  Holiday birds, fish and poultry are very healthy meals.  Steamed vegetables, sweet potatoes, legumes, lots of wonderful things here kept in moderation.  And yes, many of the things you will want to be eating like Christmas cookies, mince pie and other holiday treats will be loaded with tons of carbohydrates.  So have a taste, but stay away from the mountains of goodies that will undoubtedly proliferate around the Christmas tree and dinner table.
  4. Have a plan.  So if the above paragraph sounds like great advice, but totally impractical, plan ahead.  You must be playing defense in order to succeed in avoiding weight gain during the holidays.  This means defend your body from all the wonderful temptations, the high calorie, high carbohydrate treats, snacks and desserts that will tempt you over the holidays.  Have a plan that you are going to taste one of mom’s cookies and no more.  Have a plan that you will have two bites of a pie and no more.  If you proactively create a plan and set an expectation in your mind, then you are much more likely to succeed in minimizing your calorie and carb intake than blowing your eating plan.  If you make no plan then you will very likely fail.  It’s far too tempting to simply have another cookie or enjoy that big, fat slice of pie when the alcohol and social environment is encouraging you to do so.  With a plan you stand to have a much better fighting chance.
  5. Limit alcohol.  Once again, easier said than done, but by preparing to limit your alcohol you are much more likely to succeed in limiting your alcohol.  Alcohol is a terrific social lubricant and something that many people enjoy with holiday social occasions.  It also tends to make us more receptive to temptations, increase our calorie intake and put off our serious fitness plan until the New Year.  Add to that the fact that every gram of alcohol contains seven calories, and you have a recipe for some serious weight gain.  So one glass of wine and that’s it.


Friday, December 3rd, 2010

One of the striking and discouraging features of the obesity epidemic is the inverse relationship to socioeconomic status.  Put another way, obesity is disproportionately a disease of the poor.  Many people have commented on the higher costs associated with eating well, but is this true?

First, it’s indisputably true that it is very easy to eat high calorie, high carbohydrate foods, meals, drinks and snacks very cheaply.  The cheap cost of ingredients combined, in some cases with government subsidies and the proliferation of low cost store options means that many people in a low income household find that the most cost effective way to feed a family is to eat high carb processed foods.  Bulk items of sweets, sugar laden treats, high fructose corn syrup, packed sodas and products, breads, rice and cereals can combine to make for high calorie meals.  And, as we know, meals derived from high proportional carbohydrates not only lead to excess calorie consumption, but they tend to increase a cycle of hunger and overeating.  This is the perfect formula for obesity.

But what about eating “well”?  Does it really have to cost more?  Well, when compared to the bulk food sugar and snack options, it does cost a bit more, but it is definitely possible to eat fresh fruits and vegetable, whole grains and mixture of dairy, legumes and other protein sources very inexpensively.


Monday, November 8th, 2010

My daughter and I were playing a board game, but I had the baseball game on in the background.  And one phrase caught her attention the pitcher had “good stuff” today.  What did this mean she wanted to know?

I found myself describing that sometimes pitcher’s have “good stuff” and other times they don’t have “good stuff”.  What’s meant by this is that some days, even though it’s the same pitcher with the same training, the same experience and expertise, the same baseball, same dimensions of the baseball yard and the pitching mound, he nails the strike zone, feels good, has a sharp breaking curveball and basically has everything he needs to be successful and accomplish his goal that day of striking out hitters and winning the game.  Other days, even though he’s the same person, he can’t hit the strike zone to save his life and his curveball has no snap.  The opposing team jumps all over pitchers on those days and you see the pitchers leave the game early and usually they wind up on the losing end.

I found myself going on to say this is a lot like life for the rest of us.  Some days we have it and some days we don’t.  I brought it around to her own experiences such as doing school work, practicing music or doing sports.  Most of the time she has “good stuff” and can play and practice, study and thrive.  Other days she feels tired and her heart is not fully in it.

This is an awful like what we all face as we age past our thirties and forties and face a challenging goal of maintaining fitness and avoiding weight gain.  Some days you’ve got the right stuff, and this means you’re motivated to exercise and avoid excessive calorie intake.  You have the willpower to stay away from the snacks and treats, monitor your calories, take note of grams of carbohydrates that you need to avoid and you do so successfully.  You make plans and stick with them.  But other days when you don’t have the good stuff, you’re motivation may be lacking and the willpower to avoid temptations is just not as strong.  Those are the tough days.

One of the real keys to successfully maintaining weight and successfully losing weight is to maintain the long view.  For example, keep in mind that cutting out just 96 calories per day results in about 10 pounds of weight loss over the course of a whole year.  Now think of the opposite, giving in and consuming an extra 96 calories per day results in a 10 pound weight gain over the course of a year.  So as much as weight loss success and weight maintenance success are a product of careful calorie counting and exercise, they are also a product of avoiding major lapses and downturns when you don’t have the right stuff, when you don’t feel motivated, when you don’t feel strong, when you feel like you are going to give into the temptations of the calories and desserts and treats, those days count just as much as all the rest.  So you need a battle plan to combat those days when you don’t have the right stuff.  You need to have successful ways to limit calorie intake even when you don’t feel motivated and you don’t feel tremendous willpower to resist eating and drinking more calories.  You also need a plan to find ways to exercise and burn calories even when you don’t feel motivated to do so.  So I suggest two main strategies:

  1. When you don’t have the “right stuff”, make sure the conditions in your house do not allow for a major lapse.  This means getting rid of all your favorite tasty treats, high calorie snacks and desserts.  Do not, I repeat, do not stock the pantry with your favorite desserts and treats.  Quite the opposite in fact, make it so that when you are padding around in your pajamas and have absolutely no willpower and find yourself wandering into the pantry, there should be absolutely nothing that remotely tempts you.  This will save you.
  2. Even when you don’t have the “right stuff” make yourself do a tiny, tiny, tiny, itsby, bitsy bit of exercise.  That’s right, take the first baby step.  Commit to walking outside your front door and maybe to the mailbox and no further.  Make just that much of a commitment.  And if that’s all you do for that day then I commend you because you kept your end of the bargain.  I suggest to you though that once you’ve reached the mailbox, your brain is likely to have changed and your attitude is likely to have improved to the point where you can then commit to walking a block and then let’s see what happens, maybe you’ll end up walking a few miles and turning a lousy day into a great one.

All of us have days when we don’t have the right stuff.  The trick is to find a way to win anyway, just like the best pitchers.


Monday, October 18th, 2010

Who would have believed it?  It was 80 degrees with clear blue skies, stunningly beautiful Indian summer in Reno last week and this week has been uncharacteristic heavy and consistent rains.  In a preview of the winter weather to come it stayed gray and cloudy with steady rainfall all day and gave me too much of an excuse to cancel my Sunday run.

In planning for the California International Marathon I was scheduled to get in a good 15 miles or so.  Having recently run the 26.2 miles of the Maui Marathon as a training run, I am supposed to be on the home stretch of training for real now with serious weekend runs and some speed work and squeezing in the some runs during the week.  Well, let’s face it, most of that is not happening.  Then the weather!

Watching the rain through the windows I felt all of my motivation to exercise ebbing away and, like so many people, felt the desire instead to do just the opposite for my fitness and preparation: go eat a big lunch!  I got away from the kitchen and did what I always counsel my weight loss patients to do: take the first baby step.  So I changed into running shoes and workout clothes to at least put myself in the mode of getting exercise.  After stalling for a few minutes and waiting for the guilt to overcome the sense of laziness, I finally found my way downstairs to the treadmill then I did another baby step, turned on the TV and set the treadmill to a very slow walking pace.  At least if I’m going to be lazy around the house I might as well take a walk, right?

After a while habit forced me to dial up the pace and soon I was pounding out 8 good miles at 8 minute mile pace.  Not a tremendous workout, but it turned the rainy day from a total loss into a reasonable workout so I can stay on track.

Everyone fights the same battles: feeling the powerful pull of yummy foods and treats all the time and especially when work duties, childcare duties and more pressing matters ebb away to give you free time.  Everyone faces the challenges of maintaining motivation to exercise.  There are no easy ways around this, but some tried and true principals to help in the mental and physical war we must fight to maintain health and fitness and avoid unhealthy weight gain.

  1. Never give up.  Stay committed and stay focused.  Never throw in the towel just because the rain comes or you aren’t feeling motivated.
  2. Take that first baby step toward the goal.  That means lace up the running shoes even if you have absolutely no intention of going running.  The funny thing is that once those shoes are on your body has a way of wanting to take the next baby step, which might be taking a walk outside or putting on the iPod.
  3. If you can’t do something big, do something small.  Nevermind that your friends cancelled on you, the weather turned gray, the bicycle broke, you twisted your ankle or the dog at it.   No excuse should keep you from changing from the big plan for a monster workout and instead doing what you feel you can on that day given what you have to work with.  Make it a small workout.  Just work on some upper body strength.  Even if you just change it to a ten minute exercise routine, at least you did ten minutes.

Take yourself out of the “I’m bored now I must eat” environment.  If the original plans fall to the wayside and you find yourself with nothing to do in a house full of food, get out.  Grab that list of errands you have been meaning to do and go run them.  Get started on another project and do not give into the strong temptation to allow food preparation and consumption to fill up the boredom.

Doctor’s Orders: Sleep Well and Lose the Weight

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Most Americans are overweight or obese today, and all those extra pounds take a tremendous toll on our health. It seems it is more difficult than ever to lose weight these days. Foods are more delicious, higher in calories, and more tempting than ever before. Our lives are also busier than ever, and finding time to exercise seems a nearly impossible task most days. But did you know that one of the best things you can do to successfully lose weight is get a good night’s sleep?

Read the rest of this article on Yahoo! >> Doctor’s Orders: Sleep Well and Lose the Weight

New Moms: Sleep Well and Lose The Weight

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Most moms want to lose the pregnancy weight, but who can find time to start a weight loss “program”? It seems it is more difficult than ever to lose weight these days on your own. Foods are more delicious, higher in calories, and more tempting than ever before. A new mom’s life is also busier than ever, and finding time to exercise seems a nearly impossible task most days. But did you know that one of the best things you can do to successfully lose weight is get a good night’s sleep?

Research has shown that the lack of a good night of sleep leads to more weight gain. The mechanism is thought to be related to an increase in hunger and a decrease in some of our internal impulse control mechanisms. After a night of little sleep, moms are tired, hungrier, less mindful of food and snack consumption, and more apt to give in to temptation around food. To make matters worse, tired moms do not have the energy or motivation to exercise. Bad combination: eating more treats and exercising less! No wonder lack of sleep is associated with weight gain and obesity.

So what can you do about it? Here are ten important practices you can undertake today that will maximize better sleeping and therefore help you in your journey to a healthier weight.

  • For starters, don’t consume caffeine or other stimulants in the afternoon or evening.
  • Establish a routine in which you sleep in a safe and comfortable environment that is controlled to your liking, paying attention to the temperature and darkness.
  • Avoid alcohol beyond two or three ounces of wine. Alcohol makes a mom drowsy at first but causes a rebound effect that often wakes her up in the wee hours and impairs rest.
  • Avoid eating a large late night meal. This means a light dinner and no food after 8 PM.
  • Negotiate some nighttime help from your partner so you may sleep more. If he is not a “50-50” parent and objects to this idea, offer win-win solutions like his favorite meal on the weekend or going to a ballgame.
  • Find 30 minutes for a brisk walk or other exercise in your day or evening and you will sleep much better. Push that stroller or strap on the baby carrier.
  • If you are breast-feeding and you feel comfortable doing so, pump and save milk during the day so that your partner can do some of the nocturnal feeding.
  • Establish your bedtime and stick to it every night. Try to minimize emotionally charged events like, arguing with your partner about house cleaning, that occur close to bedtime.
  • Set a goal of six to eight hours every night and stick to it. Once a week allow yourself to sleep longer and erase that sleep debt.
  • Use babysitters, grandparents, partners and friends to allow a few extra hours of sleep for yourself. Don’t feel guilty about this; you need to be healthier for your child.

Importantly, many of us have unrecognized sleep disturbances that can only be diagnosed by a formal sleep study that is ordered by your doctor. The most common among these is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a common condition that usually occurs as a result of weight gain, such as with pregnancy. OSA afflicts over ten million Americans and is on the rise. It results from airway obstruction by the soft tissues of the neck and throat. If you snore, cease breathing for ten seconds or more during sleep, sleep restlessly, wake up often in the night, experience morning headaches, or simply feel tired all the time, you may need a sleep study. And you may want to talk to your doctor about things like post-partum depression and alcohol use that impair sleeping.

Often, lack of sleep just seems like a necessity with all the other responsibilities of motherhood that take up time. If you need to lose weight, then sleeping more hours needs to become a priority. So, consider it a good day when the doctor tells you that the first item on your To-Do list toward losing weight is to sleep more hours. Enjoy those extra Z’s and you will feel better and more energetic, and you will be far better positioned to succeed in achieving your weight loss goal.

So sleep more; it’s Doctor’s Orders.


Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

In a new study released by the University of California, Davis has found a proposed mechanism by which bariatric surgery resolves type 2 diabetes in humans. In the study, a specific line of rats known as the UC Davis type 2 diabetes mellitus rat was studied. A model was created which a surgical procedure that mimics malabsorptive human bariatric surgical procedures was employed in this special group of rats. After the procedure, a dramatic reduction in the onset of type 2 diabetes was noted 120 days later. 78% of the control group rats developed the diabetes as expected while only 38% of the rats that had undergone the surgical procedure developed diabetes.

The researchers described a hypothesis in which two specific hormones are implicated in the resolution of diabetes or the prevention of type 2 diabetes. These two hormones are known as GLP1 (Glucagon- like peptide-1) and PYY (peptide YY). These two hormones have been previously identified and are involved in regulation of insulin secretion and appetite. GLP1 is believed to increase insulin secretion and increase insulin sensitivity in the tissues, which would lead to improvement or resolution- or in this case prevention- of type 2 diabetes.

The study is important in part because some of the findings about blood sugar regulation after weight loss surgery appears to contradict the hypothesis that the phenomenon is purely weight related. While long term studies of gastric banding and gastric bypass demonstrate similar rates of diabetes resolution, short term studies indicate the gastric bypass, a malabsorptive procedure with greater hormonal changes, produces faster and earlier improvements in type 2 diabetes. The explanation for this phenomenon may lie with hormonal changes such as those that occur with GLP-1.

Undoubtedly future studies on these hormones in both animals and humans will shed greater light on the subject and help us understand how and why weight loss surgery exerts is powerful effects. In addition, such studies may lead us to new drugs, pharmaceutical solutions to the problem that will involve drugs that mimic the actions of GLP-1 or block other hormones that create harmful effects and perhaps allow a way to chemically produce the effects of weight loss surgery.

Some researchers in the field of obesity postulate that within ten years we will have a whole array of new drugs that produce some of these effects, but obesity is likely to remain a complex, multi-factorial disease with many psychological, behavioral, genetic and cultural factors that play a role.


Monday, June 14th, 2010

Researchers in the United Kingdom have been studying a fibrous material in seaweed or sea kelp known as alginate. They have found this material is quite affective at preventing fat absorption. Researchers performed laboratory studies that modeled fat absorption within the human intestine and demonstrated that alginate will bind the fat and prevent its absorption into the body. The researchers believe when this material is added into commonly consumed foods such as breads and other staples that up to 75% of dietary fat would pass through the intestinal system without being absorbed into the human body.

Anyone who has taken Xenical will know that blocking absorption of fat into the body means one thing: it passes out the stool, usually in the form of diarrhea or a special greasy form of diarrhea known as steatorrhea. The appeal of fat blockers stems from the fact that fat is a very calorie dense nutrient containing 9 calories per gram of food.

However, research that has focused on reduction of fat has lead to very disappointing results for the outcomes that matter: weight loss and resolution of obesity related conditions like diabetes. Research involving fat blocking drugs such as Xenical have shown very mild weight loss and to such a low extent that most professional weight loss physicians only recommend the drug (also sold as Alli over-the-counter) when a weight loss patient is suffering from constipation.

So seaweed might have an interesting role in cutting down some calories we absorb. Reducing fat calories will help the overall cause, however it is quite unlikely that reducing fat calories is going to solve obesity for most people. The epidemiological evidence points strongly toward carbohydrate over-consumption as the main culprit so unless we discover a seaweed that is a “carb blocker “then it is unlikely to make a dent in the obesity epidemic


Friday, June 11th, 2010

There is really no end to the silly things that people will spend money on if the lure of weight loss can be made attractive enough. In a recent such example the Mexican “Diet Ring” is slipped around one’s finger and produces up to 38 pounds of weight loss in one week. The ring is of course developed by “oriental scientists” and retails for 399 pesos.
Believe me, I wish with all my heart that such a thing were actually true and that I could help thousands of people in my own community and in my own practice lose weight and become healthier. The truth is more complex and a bit harder. But ultimately, there is a solution to successful, long term weight loss and you can lose weight and keep it off without wasting your money on gimmicks, fad diets and “miracle” cures and solutions that are nothing more than marketing schemes, gimmicks and somebody’s get rich quick idea.
Stick with what works, what is authentic, what has been studied and what is recommended by people who sincerely want you to get healthier.

Dr. Kent Sasse, Medical Director | 75 Pringle Way Suite 804 Reno, NV 89502 | Phone: 775-829-7999

Dr. Kent Sasse serves the entire city of Reno and all the surrounding areas. Dr. Sasse is one of the nation's foremost medical weight loss and bariatric surgical experts.
Dr. Sasse has educated patients about food nutrition and weight loss for many years.

Copyright © 2007-2010 Kent Sasse, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

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