You might be chompin’ at the bit to attack those extra pounds you put on during the annual holiday celebrations last November and December. This war on wider girths becomes even more hard-fought down here in San Antonio, where the beat goes on … as do the festivities. During the first five or six months of our New Year, we have a Rodeo, Valentine’s Day, Luminaria SA, Easter, Fiesta and Folklife Festival, which all bring with them crowds of people, herds of cattle and a bazillion opportunities to pig out on foods of every variety. And lots of it. Whoa now. Then, there are all those brewskis and ‘dogs at the Spurs, Scorpions, Silver Stars, Missions, American Basketball League, Talons and Rampage games. And the nightly river revelry. You can see now that we have a “problem” other cities can only dream about. Party!

“Friending” food through diet plans, programs and pills.

Longing for meals that are fast and easy? Opt for one of the programs where pre-packaged foods are just a few microwaves away. Check out those familiar programs like Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, Medifast and ediets.com. Even though Weight Watchers is known for using fresh ingredients and a point system to guide your food choices and quantities, they also have frozen foods available at grocery stores.
Then, there are the myriad diets that are based upon the types of foods you eat: the French, Mediterranean, cabbage soups, watermelon, low everything — calories, fats, carbs — Dr. this or that diets, and on and on.

Detox

Ask yourself if it is really necessary. After all, your body has a built-in detox system. It’s called the liver and the kidneys. Sure, we’re all exposed to many environmental pollutants. But according to experts, there’s no magic potion. As a matter of fact, as with fasting, there are potential consequences, such as headaches, low blood sugar, deterioration of muscle matter or imbalances in nutrients and electrolytes. If you’re pregnant, diabetic or have other diseases, you’re at even higher risk. Most detox materials — pills, liquids, laxatives and diet ingredients — work because they are low in calories, almost to semi-starvation stage and sometimes disguised as portion control. According to one Manhattan nutritionist, if you eat junk food and occasionally detox for a week, you needn’t bother. You can, of course, help detox yourself by giving up smoking cigarettes, adding fiber to your diet and eating organic, nonprocessed foods. Be sure to wash all of your fruits and veggies well. It’s a good thing.

Diet Pills

The FDA has recently approved a new diet pill for those who are obese or those who have health problems caused by obesity. This prescription weight loss drug does carry with it the potential for serious side effects when you’re taking drugs to treat depression. Examples are migraine headaches and difficulty paying attention or with memory.

Vegans/vegetarians

True vegans have a lengthy list of things they don’t eat or wear or smear on their faces, but just giving up meat and other foods containing saturated fat and going with veggies and fruits will make you lose weight. You do have to be sure to get your daily requirement of protein, vitamins and minerals with supplements or other means to keep your body running efficiently and stay healthy.

Supplements

Some of the latest supplements for dieting found at health stores include Green-Coffee-Bean (GCB) Extract, Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Red Raspberry Ketones (RRK) and Gogi Berry Juice (GBJ). Since there are so many herbs and berry extracts and pills available, and they can be quite strong, even dangerous for some, it would really be wise to check with your physician before adding them to your diet, particularly if you regularly take other prescription medicines. Please remember the “buyer beware” warning when watching those TV ads offering “free trials,” “automatic shipment” and those with short-term guarantees or none at all.

Nutritionists

The most recommended way of eating is the balanced diet containing the protein, vegetables, fruits and dairy products that provide the necessary minerals and vitamins found in natural foods. This is where the services of a nutritionist can be very helpful. Nutritionists are degreed, highly trained experts in food and nutrition. You’ll find these professionals working in hospitals, schools or in their own private practice advising people on how to eat healthy and ways to lose, maintain or even gain weight. They assess a client’s health requirements and diet, explain nutrition issues and develop meal plans around preferences, mindful of prices. They evaluate the effects of these meal plans, adjusting as needed. They must keep current and interpret the latest nutritional research.
Holistic nutritionists are committed to treating the whole person, including the environment, emotions, values and other physical symptoms. Some types of holistic practitioners are chiropractors, acupuncturists, herbalists and, of course, nutritionists, all with the goal of helping people use their own capacity for self-healing.

Surgery for weight loss

To be considered a candidate for weight loss surgery, you must meet the following criteria:
• Be medically obese, with 80 to 100 pounds or more to lose.
• Be 70 or more pounds overweight with another serious weight-related health problem, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol or severe sleep apnea.
• Have seriously tried and failed to lose weight by other means.

In addition, a candidate needs to understand the risks and be mentally prepared to commit to a lifetime of permanent changes in how he or she eats, exercises and lives. As one resource put it, ”The surgery can be lifesaving, but it is not a cure.” Please note: The risks of complications are lowered when these surgical procedures are performed by an experienced weight loss surgeon at a medical center specializing in weight loss surgery. One basic type of weight loss surgery is restrictive surgeries, which, well, restrict the size of the stomach and slow down digestion. The other type is the malabsorptive/restrictive surgeries. These are more invasive because, in addition to restricting the stomach size as above, parts of your digestive tract are also surgically removed or bypassed, making it harder for your body to absorb calories. Within these types, there are many different surgical procedures. Adjustable gastric banding. The least invasive uses an inflatable band to squeeze a small stomach passageway that physically restricts the amount of food you can take in. Banding is simpler and safer than a bypass. It is performed laparoscopically, using a small incision, small instruments and a tiny camera. The band can be adjusted, and the procedure can be reversed. Two brands of bands are LAP-BAND or REALIZE.

Sleeve gastrectomy. Another form of restrictive weight loss surgery is also performed laparoscopically, where 75 percent of the stomach is removed, leaving a narrow tube (sleeve) connected to the intestines. Around 50 percent of the excess weight can be lost with the sleeve technique. Absorption of food and nutrients is not affected by this surgery. If more weight loss is needed, another surgical procedure, such as a gastric bypass can be performed. The sleeve gastrectomy is not reversible. Gastric bypass. The most common weight loss procedure basically creates a shortcut for food, bypassing sections of the stomach and the small intestine. The result is a large amount of weight loss in a small amount of time. This helps obesity-related health problems to improve rapidly as well. This surgery is irreversible, but long-term results appear to be good.

Biliopancreatic diversion. This surgery is a more complicated procedure than a gastric bypass. There is potentially more risk because of the loss of nutritional elements. When a duodenal switch is also performed, the danger is reduced because less of the stomach and small intestine are removed.

Weight loss surgery is a serious matter with serious risks requiring serious consideration. Discuss all aspects — pros and cons — with your surgeon.
Remember, with some willpower and research, you can find the right weapons to fight this war on (extra) weight. Whatever it takes, you are worth it, you can do it, you are woman, and YOU’RE A WINNER!