How to Prioritize Weight Loss Goals in 2021

Feb 02, 2021

I had the privilege of speaking with Megan Nelson from Oil Up Omaha about how to set and stick to health and weight loss goals in 2021. 

In this episode, you’ll learn more about my why, why I started Weight Loss for Health, LLC, and how I help women lose weight to prevent conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 

Connect with Megan Nelson on Facebook, Instagram, or her website.


Why I Started My Online Weight Loss Program & Coaching Business, Weight Loss for Health

My journey started when I graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 2014 with my Doctorate of Physical Therapy. From there I went on to complete a Geriatric Physical Therapy Residency through Creighton University and Hillcrest Health Systems. 

One thing I learned early in my geriatric residency training was pattern recognition. Excess weight is so common, it often is not even listed in the past medical history, having been assumed, discounted, or overlooked altogether. As I reflected on this particular patient’s case, I noticed a pattern among my geriatric physical therapy patients. 

The vast majority were overweight or obese. Most had significant and multiple co-morbidities like diabetes, cancer, arthritis, heart disease, or cognitive impairment. And most importantly, these patients had no idea what “healthy” meant, and were in no place to make the lifestyle changes needed to see optimal outcomes. 

In contrast, I noticed that the few geriatric physical therapy patients that I treated who were at a healthy weight had far fewer complications and comorbidities, with much better prognosis and outcomes. I kept thinking to myself, “If only I could have worked with my patients 20 years ago to help them lose weight and get healthy, they could have largely prevented the very conditions that landed them in geriatric physical therapy.”

In my contact with patients’ family members, I often saw their adult children following along in their unhealthy footsteps. Closer to home, I recognized many of the same behaviors and risk factors in my own parents, causing me to look more closely at adults who were not 100% healthy, but weren’t clinically sick either. 

They were in what I like to call the “grey zone” of healthcare. People in the grey zone have underlying risk factors like high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high blood glucose, a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition, chronic stress, sleep deprivation, and excess weight. While such risk factors may be manageable in one’s 40’s and 50’s, they often become contributing co-morbidities that cannot be reversed as a person ages. 

New research shows that over 40% of Americans are obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater, and another third of Americans are in the overweight category with a BMI of 25-30. More than seven out of every ten adults in America are either overweight or obese. More than one in three adults have prediabetes, and of those, 84% of people do not know they have prediabetes. If losing weight and keeping it off was easy, we wouldn’t have these problems. And yet, here we are with a diet success rate of less than 5%. 


The Search for Sustainable Weight Loss Answers

My curiosity was piqued. I searched to find someone who was helping aging adults in the grey zone get healthy and stay healthy, in order to reduce their risk factors and the likelihood of developing preventable disease and need for a geriatric physical therapist down the road. I found no one filling that need, and my search led me to explore the questions, “Why are so many aging adults overweight or obese? Why do largely preventable health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease so frequently occur together?”   

I found one answer in the book, “The Obesity Code,” by Dr. Jason Fung, with that answer being “insulin resistance.”  Insulin resistance is at the heart of obesity, high blood pressure, high blood glucose, high triglycerides, inflammation, and other risk factors so often present in the grey zone and in the patients whom I was treating in geriatric physical therapy. As I learned more about insulin resistance, the meaning of, “When the tide comes in, all boats rise,” became apparent. That is, reduce insulin resistance, and all health conditions improve. 

Having personal experience with losing 20 pounds and keeping it off, and my research into the grey zone, healthy habits, and optimal aging, I knew my passion and skills could be put to good use in a science-based, physical therapy-informed weight loss business for aging adults. 

I’ve created a free masterclass about how to reduce insulin resistance. Click here to download this masterclass!


How to Prioritize Weight Loss Goals in 2021

The first thing I recommend when it comes to setting goals, is realize the role that goals actually play in your weight loss or wellness transformation. Weight loss goals are not the end-all-be-all. They serve two main purposes, as outlined in the book Atomic Habits by James Clear

Goals serves as: 

  1. A North Start. Are your current habits getting you where you want to go or do you need to course correct?
  2. A litmus test for if a certain decision will be in line with your long-term goals or not. 

That’s it. If you’re working to lose weight and are motivated by hitting a certain “goal weight” that will likely not sustain you long enough to reach your goal, let alone maintain your weight loss. The problem I have with goal weights is that they are a made up number and not the best indicator of overall health. Your bloodwork, blood pressure, and waist circumference are better indicators of your overall health. 

Having a goal weight can motivate some people to use restrictive measures to reach that goal weight. Measures that they don’t intend to maintain. If you’re not going to lose weight the way you plan to live the rest of your life, I think it’s in inefficient use of your time. 


Where to Start When You’re Losing Weight

  1. Track your macronutrients. Most people are under-eating protein. I recommend aiming for 1 gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight. 
  2. Increase your water intake to at least half your body weight in ounces of water per day. 
  3. Using intermittent fasting. Try to fast for at least 12, preferable at least 14 hours a day. 
  4. Prioritize your sleep. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Poor sleep increases ghrelin (hunger) hormone and reduces satiety hormones. 

Increasing your protein and water intake, intermittent fasting, and increased sleep will do wonders for carb and sugar cravings!


Focus on Systems Instead of Goals to Lose Weight

When you have your action items set, it’s time to think about how you can set yourself up for success by changing your environment. One example I talk about in this episode is moving the candy tray out of sight so they are more likely to be out of mind. 


Identify Your Why for Losing Weight

Losing weight is hard, uncomfortable, at times boring and slow. If you’re relying solely on motivation or willpower, your hormones will win. Your “why” for losing weight and getting healthy needs to be clearly articulated in 10 seconds or less and needs to include someone other than yourself to be strong enough to make it through the slug of losing weight. 

If you need some direction for digging into your “why” behind losing weight, take my free assessment by clicking here

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