Quad Cities, IL/IA

Working with the community... for a healthier community.

The Difference Between Staying Healthy and Getting Healthy


By Rachel Smith, ARNP, Weight Management at  The Group Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialists

Do you ever notice that your thin, fit friends seem to be able to eat anything they want while it feels like all you have to do is think about a cupcake and you gain weight? It may not all be in your head.

It is just one more frustrating reality faced by those who struggle with their weight: eating a healthy diet may not be enough for some people to take off excess weight. While switching out fast food for home-cooked meals and substituting water for bottle drinks and sodas will definitely improve their health, unless the changes they make add up to a big difference in caloric intake, they may not lose weight. Of course, some people will lose weight by making those changes: generally these are individuals whose diets undergo drastic changes. If you have been living on soda, fast food, chips and candy, a balanced diet may be all you need.

However, when patients come in to our office to discuss their fat-loss goals, they often describe diets that appear to conform to widely accepted standards of healthy eating. Their frustration and sense of being overwhelmed is palpable. I explain to them that a fat-loss program will necessarily be more restrictive than a traditionally defined healthy diet. I also explain that a healthy, balanced diet is a long-term goal, something that they will learn once they have achieved their fat-loss goals. Once they get there, their entire lifestyle will have been altered so that they can enjoy healthy, balanced, unrestricted meals with occasional treats that don’t go straight to their thighs.
So, why is a healthy, balanced diet often not enough to achieve fat loss? The answer is two-fold.

First, many obese individuals have some degree of insulin resistance, a pre-diabetic state that results from repeated and prolonged exposure to the typical American diet, which is high in sugar. When insulin resistance is present, insulin levels remain high in the blood, and insulin is unable to do its primary job of escorting energy into cells. This essentially creates a state of starvation for the cells in the body. We all know what starvation means: survival mode. When the body is in survival mode, it hangs on to fat as though life depended on it. This makes weight loss more of a challenge.

Second, the standardly accepted healthy diet is generally not going to result in a calorie deficit. Unless a true deficit is achieved and maintained over a period of time, fat loss cannot occur. Achieving that deficit can happen on almost any fat-loss diet: most of them restrict certain foods or food groups to the extent that total calories are restricted as well. The problem with restricting your diet is obvious. It is hard.

That is where weight management programs come into play. Restricting is hard. Not because you are weak, but because it is normal to like food, especially food that tastes good. In our practice, we do not blame the patient for wanting delicious food. Instead, we tell them that, of course, they are going to want delicious food. Their biology drives them to crave tasty and calorie-dense foods. We teach them over the time that they are in our program to find the right motivation within themselves to make the right choices consistently. It is not as easy to get healthy as it is to stay healthy. Studies demonstrate that those who are most successful with fat-loss have comprehensive and professional support along the way. That is what our patients get.

If you think having this kind of support might be beneficial to you on your journey to health, come by our office on Wednesday evening at 6:30pm for a free weight management program orientation. Or, you can check out our website at