Friday, January 11, 2013

The Dubious Power of the Calendar

Talk to anyone who works at a gym and they'll tell you the busiest time of the year is right about now -- and we imagine it's the same for people who work in health food and nutrition stores. The first few weeks at the start of a New Year are always when people suddenly seem to feel the urge to make positive changes in their life such as getting more exercise and eating in a healthier manner. Many of them swear they'll lose X pounds by the end of the following year. Very few even get close to their goal if it's too ambitious.

One problem is that lingering effect of New Year's seems to wear off sometime around Valentine's Day. The fact of the matter is that there would be slightly less need for weight loss surgery if it were easy for us human beings to keep up that somewhat forced burst of energy many of us feel in early January. The problem is that's it's artificial. If you've ever made a truly big change in your life, you know that it has to be powerful and it has to come from within.

Also, of course, some changes are harder to make than others. Making the kind of permanent changes in your dietary habits that are necessary to loose significant amounts of weight -- and to keep it off permanently -- is extremely difficult for reasons that can't be cured by the calendar.  It's just a fact of life that, at least at this point, a sleeve gastrectomy is a vastly more powerful tool for getting patients to significantly reduce their dietary intake than a mere psychological boost from the time of year. The forces that make us want to consume more calories than we actually need are simply too deep and too powerful for most people to fight in a permanent way.

As the saying goes, "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is unable." People may be able to make relatively small improvements on their own, keeping more fit and loosing maybe ten, twenty, or thirty pounds -- and that's great. But it really does appear for the time being that, for the majority of people with truly large amounts of weight to lose, all the calendar-based psychology in the world will never be remotely as effective as obesity surgery.

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