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Conquer Your Weight

Episode #24: Practical Tips for Weight Loss

Show Notes

August 31, 2022

This week we're going to talk about the most practical tips for getting started on your weight loss journey.
1. Your big why. Get clear on why you want to lose weight.
2. Write down your specific goals for weight loss.
3. Make a food plan filled with foods that you enjoy and serve your body.
4. Be intentional about your eating. Plan your meals. Log your food and hunger signals. Don't multitask while you eat.
5. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Let go of the mind drama that comes up when you want to lose weight faster. Your journey is your journey. If it's working, albeit slowly, let it be.
6. Let go of unhelpful thoughts like, "I'm doing everything right." Thoughts like these keep you from having an open mind. Instead, can you think, "I’m learning what works for me and my body."
7. Find an obesity medicine physician, health coach or therapist to support you.

For more information, please visit my website,


Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: This is Dr. Sarah Stombaugh and you are listening to the Conquer Your Weight Podcast, episode number 24. Announcer: Welcome to the Conquer Your Weight podcast, where you will learn to understand your mind and body so you can achieve long-term weight loss. Here's your host, obesity medicine physician and life coach, Dr. Sarah Stombaugh. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Hi everyone. I want to start out today's episode by asking you all a favor. I am just a couple of weeks away now from having my baby and I want to keep the momentum for my podcast going. Assuming she doesn't come early, I will hopefully have a few episodes recorded in advance so we can keep new episodes coming out. While I'm on maternity leave, my goal is to have a new episode every other week instead of weekly for September, October and November, and if I happen to leave you suddenly before then it means that my baby girl came early and I didn't get the chance to record the episodes before her birth and while I slow down on the release of new episodes, I would really appreciate your support to keep that momentum. The best way you can help a podcaster is to subscribe to their channel. Subscribing to my podcast is absolutely free and it just means that you'll get the podcast automatically downloaded to your podcast app on your phone or your computer whenever a new episode comes out. When you subscribe, it helps give feedback to Apple or Google or Spotify or wherever you listen that you think this is an interesting podcast and you want to stay in the loop for new episodes. The next best thing you can do is to rate and review my podcast. If you found my podcast to be helpful in any way, I would love it if you could take just a moment to rate and review me rating on Apple. Literally take seconds. There's stars, and you just click the five star button and then leaving a review takes as long as you feel it does to write out your thoughts, and I so appreciate you taking the time to both rate and review me. Today we are going to talk about practical tips for weight loss. I've been shying away from this topic a bit because I don't want you to put in a mindset of taking shortcuts or anything like that, but this episode will serve a bit as a summary and thinking about what are the things we can do in our favor to really help jumpstart start our weight loss goals and get that momentum going. In my humble opinion, the most important thing for a long-term weight loss success is having a compelling why. We talked about this in episode four, so if you wanna go back and hear that in depth, definitely go back there, but when we have a compelling reason, we want to lose weight, we are more likely to stick with our goals. Ask yourself the question, why do I want to lose weight? And with each answer you give yourself, follow that answer by asking again and why and why. Imagine yourself to be that little kid who keeps asking, but why mom? But why mom, write it down and if you feel compelled, post it somewhere you can see it, say it out loud, share it with someone you trust. When you get to that ultimate why, it's important to remind yourself of it. Often. If your why is I want to live long enough to meet my grandchildren, you need to remind yourself of that. If you're looking at a dessert and considering, should I have this or not, remind yourself of your why does this choice help you get closer to your ultimate why? You should also write down specific goals. Oftentimes we say things like, I want to eat healthy and lose weight, and when we're vague like this, we don't do ourselves any favors. What does it mean to eat healthy? How much weight do you want to lose? Do you have a weight number in mind? Do you have any sort of secondary goals like maybe you want to improve your hemoglobin A1C or your blood sugar? Maybe you want to improve your cholesterol or your blood pressure, get really clear on what your goals are and then you can get a clear on how to accomplish those goals. When we think about how we're going to think about things like making a food plan, I talk about this in depth in episode number 10, you want to make a plan filled with foods that you both enjoy and foods that serve your body and make a decision to stick to that food plan for at least two weeks before evaluating how it is or isn't working for your weight loss goals. Plan your food in advance and journal the foods you've eaten. Pay attention to the times when you didn't stick to your food plan or times it was difficult for you to stick to your food plan, and this is really, really important. Do not blow off these learning opportunities. The times where you had trouble sticking to your plan or you didn't stick to your plan. Those are going to be the biggest opportunities for improvement. You might even sit down and write about what happened. Can you approach it from a place of curiosity, no judgment, no meanness towards yourself, but just really being interested and curious about what happened. Oftentimes, it can be helpful to sit down and do this with someone else in order to offer another perspective and also to help create that safe space to think and for someone to challenge you. When you didn't follow your plan, why not? Was it a craving for a food? Did you walk through the kitchen and saw a plate of chocolate chip cookies sitting on the counter? Did you eat your kids' leftovers off of their plate as you cleaned up the dinner table? Did you have a stressful day at work and decide to unwind into a bowl of ice cream? Oftentimes, we want to pretend we didn't eat the foods because we're feeling ashamed, we're feeling embarrassed. We just wanna ignore it and promise ourselves we'll do better tomorrow. When we do pay attention, however we can learn so much, oftentimes there are patterns that start to emerge. Sometimes you realize it's mindless eating that's getting in the way of your weight loss goals. It's possible that bringing mindfulness alone to these times can reverse the habit. So for example, imagine you're eating the leftovers off of your kids' plate. You might come up with a mantra you say, or think intentionally before you start clearing the dinner table. You might say something like, I'm not even hungry for these food scraps right now and get really honest. Call it what it is. Are you really that excited to eat the rest of a half eaten quesadilla? Probably not. And sometimes in situations like this, you'll find the habit isn't actually that hard to reverse. Other times you might find you have certain emotional triggers that lead you to eat off your food plan or lead to overeating. These can be things like a work or a family situation from which you feel like you need a break or an escape and triggers like this usually are not reversed immediately, but even just bringing awareness to the event can help you see what triggers you need to work through, and if you want to work with a health coach or a therapist, this can give you tangible places to get started. In the context of making a food plan, I want to point out again that you should fill it with foods that you enjoy. You should also fill it with foods that you can make or acquire easily. If you make a food plan that includes learning dozens of new recipes, you're very unlikely to have success. Your new goals should be as easy as possible. You should make a plan that meets your needs. Some people love to cook, they feel very confident in the kitchen. Other people don't like to cook or don't really know how to cook. Don't make a food plan that requires you to learn a whole new skillset, make a plan for you, and when you make a food plan, you should be able to review it and think, yeah, I can totally do this and feel confident about that. If you're reviewing your whole food plan and you're having a lot of doubt and skepticism come up, that is not going to be the right food plan for you. Go back and rework it until you feel confident. Because our brains love habit and love routine. Making a new food plan is going to be a new habit and regardless, there will be some discomfort just because of the newness. So do everything you else, everything else you can to minimize the discomfort of making that change. Maybe it means making a trip to the grocery store and just walking around. This is one of my favorite assignments to give my patients, is to take a field trip to the grocery store and brainstorm. Think about meals that would be easy to make that would fit in with your food plan. Are there vegetables that you like that are pre-cut in the produce department? Are there pre-made meals that look appealing from the deli section? Maybe you can research a local meal delivery service from which you can order meals for a few nights per week. Spend some time brainstorming by yourself with a loved one or enlist a weight loss physician, health coach or therapist to help you do this on the same mindset. It's really important to be intentional about your eating. You're planning your meals, you're logging your meals and pay attention to what you're eating. So often we try to multitask. We eat while we work. We eat while we drive. We'll eat while we watch TV, and I'm saying this from place of love, but stop doing that. Stop it right now. When we aren't focused on our eating, it's easy to overeat or we finish our meal and we're sort of disappointed because we don't even really remember eating the food. Stop what you're doing and eat. Just eat nothing else. Feel the food in your mouth. Enjoy the flavor, enjoy the texture. Enjoy your food. Pay attention to how your body is feeling as you eat, because when we pay attention to our eating, it also allows us to pay attention to our hunger signals. Go back to episode number two if you wanna hear about this in more depth, but as a general rule of thumb, eat when you're hungry. Stop when you're full. It can be as simple as that. Learning the hunger scale and recording your hunger and your fullness signals with your food journal can be an excellent way to bring awareness to how you're feeling throughout the day. One exception to this is intermittent fasting. The goal of intermittent fasting is that you are shortening the window in which you are eating in order to decrease the amount of time that your body is in energy storage mode, and instead, you're increasing the amount of time your body is in energy burning mode, and so it's possible that you can feel hunger and not eat, and learning how to feel your hunger without freaking out is a really powerful tool. Oftentimes, as we eat a more well-balanced diet that limits processed carbohydrates like flour and sugar, we're able to feel less crashy and less hangry. We can experience our hunger without that awful feeling of I have to eat now or I'm going to die. Because the reality is, if you have extra weight on your body, it means that you have extra fat stored away as energy for later. Your body has all of the energy it needs. You don't have to eat the second you feel hungry. Also, pay attention to how your body is feeling. How do you feel when you're eating foods? How do you feel after you've eaten the foods? What foods help to fill you up? What foods leave you satisfied? What foods keep you full until the next meal? Pay attention to the times that you're eating, despite not being hungry or times when you're overeating. Similarly to what we talked about in following your food plan, getting really curious about what you're doing and why you're doing it. These are going to be your best learning opportunities if you're willing to take them. The next thing I want to talk about is if it ain't broke, don't fix it. So often our weight loss journeys don't follow the exact path we expect them to. Our weight loss might be slower than we'd like, or maybe we feel great, we feel less bloated, but the number on the scale hasn't budged. A lot of times when these things start happening, the doubts starts to creep in. This might be only after a week or two or many months later, really pay attention when this starts to happen. It's so fascinating how the number and the scale could be going down, yet our minds still jump to a negative thought like, why can't I lose weight faster? And then despite our successes, we start mentally freaking out and making changes to our plans or we've been eating differently. We feel amazing, and that number isn't budging, and instead of just adjusting the plan slightly, we start to freak out. We redo our whole routine, or you throw the whole thing out of the window, so to speak. Paying attention to your brain and the drama it's trying to create is so important. I often remind my patients, you didn't gain this weight overnight and you're not going to lose it overnight either. That's okay, that's normal. That's the process because there are times in our life where we gain rate rapidly, maybe during a pregnancy, for example, but more often than not, the weight gain creeps on really slowly. We gain two pounds, five pounds per year, and we really don't notice that until like bam, we're 30 pounds overweight and we're wondering how that happened, and despite the fact that maybe you gained that weight over five or 10 or more years, now all of a sudden we've made a decision to lose weight and we want the weight off right now, and when the weight loss doesn't happen instantaneously, we start to freak out. Our minds start daydreaming about crash diets and researching different diets. We start Googling best supplements for weight loss. None of these things are going to help you. Taking the process slow and steady and paying attention to what's working is the best thing you can do, and being able to talk yourself down and having the support from your doctor or a coach or a therapist to help you with talking yourself down, it's invaluable. If it's working, let it work. There are other times we get really frustrated because we think I'm doing everything right, but it's not working. If you're having thoughts like this, I want you to stop and question both parts of that sentence. Is it really not working or is the weight loss just slower or different than you'd like? If it is working, refer back to what we were talking about. If it is working, no matter how slowly, no matter how you would wish it would be in the ideal situation, if it's working, talk yourself down and let it be. But what if it's not working? What if you've stuck to a plan for two weeks and you don't feel any differently? The weight is the same, your body feels the same. Then what I would suggest that you throw away the thought, I'm doing everything right because that thought is not serving you at all. When you think I'm doing everything right, it makes you feel like a victim who is incapable of weight loss, but that's not true. You just haven't figured out the steps that are going to be best for your weight loss journey. When you think I'm doing everything right, you shut yourself off and your mind off for even considering that there are other options out there. So instead of thinking something like, I'm doing everything right, can you instead think I'm learning how lose weight or I'm learning what works for me and my body? Small and intentional switches like this allow our mind to open up and to explore how we can be successful. A lot of times when we start a weight loss journey, it can be so personal and so intimate. We feel like we have to go at it alone, but there's no reason that you have to. Going through this work with another person can be really helpful. That might mean that you and someone in your life decide to go through a weight loss journey together, or it might mean that you enlist the help of a doctor or a health coach or a psychologist to support you along the way. Oftentimes, we are so ingrained in our habits that having someone else to share their insights is such a valuable tool. In addition to that, there are so many things we need to think about in terms of diet and exercise and managing our mind, but this is a medical concern, and so you might take a medical approach as well in combination with everything else. You might also consider that weight loss medications are an option for you, and weight loss medications can be a very effective way of dealing with the physiological changes that are both a cause and a result of obesity. It's probably not surprising to hear this, but weight loss medications are most effective when taken in combination with lifestyle interventions like diet changes or exercise. So while weight loss medications can be an important part of your weight loss journey, they should be just that a part of your weight loss journey. So you might consider to talk with an obesity medicine physician and consider if there are other options that make sense for you as well. You might even be a candidate for a weight loss surgery or procedure, and certainly none of these things have to be a part of your weight loss journey if you don't want them to. But just like everything else, it's about learning. It's about exploring. It's about keeping an open mind for how you can be the most successful with your weight loss. If you'd like to work with an obesity medicine physician but you don't even know where to start or how to find someone, please reach out to me at my website. It's ThS-A-R-A-H-S-T-O-M-B-A-U-G-H-M-D dot com. I am licensed to see patients who live in Illinois or Virginia, but even if you live in another state, I'd be happy to help connect you with a physician local to you who can help. Thank you so much for joining me today. I'll see you all next week. Bye-bye.
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