The following is a letter I wrote to a client of mine (name has been changed):
It’s been just about 4 years since we met each other. You came into my weight loss program for a very good reason. At 157 kilograms and a BMI of 42, it was definitely time for you, at age 36, to take your health into your own hands and to do so before reaching an age where this becomes really difficult to do. Losing weight the right way, where you lose it and keep it off, is a lot of hard work. But as you know, it is well worth the effort. After all, the more weight you lose, and the lower your BMI goes, the less likely you are to get a host of diseases as you age. We know that obesity can cause heart disease, a variety of cancers, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, a fatty liver, and it certainly is unbecoming. Someone like you, in a business where you have a product to sell to people, has to make good impressions on other people. Being class 3 obese doesn’t make a very good impression and there are studies that show that how you look, for better or worse, has a big effect on your sales successes.
We got off to a very good start. You were motivated and you began walking daily and doing a few other types of exercises as well. You started making enough changes in your eating to make a difference. In the course of 5 months, you managed to lose about 12.5 kilograms. Now it’s true that the rate of 2 kilo a month isn’t that quick, but it is steady and at that rate, over two years a person loses about 50 kilogram—and that is impressive! But you got stuck and after you took a bit of a break, you came back for personal training. You came three times a week and you definitely got in good shape and you got a lot stronger. You also lost another 12 kilos over that period of time. You were 20 kilo less than when we started. Again, it was all a gradual process, but you were definitely succeeding.
Then we got stuck again and went into a cycle of ups and downs over a couple of years. You came to rely on your personal training sessions for exercise and stopped paying close attention to your daily caloric intake. Yes, you stayed in good shape, but your weight started going up instead of continuing to go down.
You travel a lot. Your business is located abroad and you also have family on two different continents. And what I have noticed in you, as I have in many others I have worked with, is that when you go away to visit or for vacation, there are no rules governing how you eat and how much you eat and exercise (lack of!). And like many in our particular crowd, food plays a big part in our celebrations and also it is really the only form of entertainment for many. Celebrations may be numerous, but that doesn’t mean that we can be out of control.
Now you’ve gone down to 2 personal training sessions a week with no big effort to exercise on the other five days of the week. We’ve eaten out together and I’ve seen how you eat. I’ve told you that there is disorder in your eating and you most definitely need to work on your relationship with food—it has to be reworked completely. That can be work, but it certainly can be accomplished. The rewards will be great. What better reward than good health and not just for now but for the future? You are close to 40 years old and this is exactly where this extra weight you are carrying will catch up with you. Do you want to get all of those dreaded adult diseases and have no choice but to start taking medications with all their side effects? I hope not!
This past week you decided to entertain the idea of weight loss surgery, specifically sleeve gastrectomy. Just like everyone else, you are looking for the “quick fix”. You have the surgery done, over the course of about 12 months you lose 40 kilos, you’re not hungry and you don’t have to worry about your behaviors and habits anymore. Sounds like a sound idea, doesn’t it? But -WAIT! Let me tell you about a new client who started last month, who also needs to lose lots of weight, and contemplated surgery. As he researched he learned that for the surgery to be effective, you need to go through a period of behavioral therapy and you need to exercise. So after speaking to his wife, they concluded that if behavioral therapy and exercise would be needed anyway, why not do it in the framework of a weight loss program. And so my new client is off to a great start. Even though he too has to travel a lot, he is working on his habits and becoming mindful of eating and exercise. And going under the knife? Is it fool-proof and safe? This surgery is a serious and major operation. They are going to cut out 80% of your stomach! And we already saw how other similar procedures ended up in failure for many. How will this one look in another 5-6 years? This procedure is starting to show signs that it too may not be the long term solution (for more on this: Critical Updates).
Mark, there are no shortcuts in life for things that are truly worthwhile. You know that for you to achieve success in business, you have to work hard. To raise your children well is hard work, too. Gaining an education can also be hard work. And if you want your health and weight to be in order, that takes work too. No shortcuts!
Look back 4 years and try to remember everything you were doing right. Let’s refocus our thoughts and make sure that your exercise occurs daily and we CAN fit it into your busy day. It’s time to get your eating in order. This will require some extra time with me and one of my dieticians in order to start replacing poor behaviors with good ones—but one at a time. Isn’t it worth it? Quality of life and length of life. You have so much to offer your family and friends.
I hope this letter to Mark will also inspire you to take your health into you own hands. Because doing what we need to do to be healthy will “add hours to your day, days to your year and years to your life.”