Weight Loss

Losing weight is hard. There will be stops, starts and set backs. Dr. Berg shares what he has learned through his weight loss journey. A few simple strategies helped him drop the pounds and he hopes that sharing them may help you -- if getting your weight down is becoming a challenge. 

Learn more about Joseph Berg, DO
Weight Loss
Featured Speaker:
Joseph Berg, DO
Joseph Berg, DO is a Family Medicine physician at Upland Hills Health Mount Horeb Clinic. 

Learn more about Joseph Berg, DO
Weight Loss

Caitlin Whyte: Losing weight is hard. Everyone knows this. There will be stops, starts and setbacks all along the way. Well, Dr. Joseph Berg is here to share what he has learned through his own weight loss journey. He is a family medicine physician at Upland Hills Health, and will share a few simple strategies that helped him drop the pounds. And he hopes that telling them to you may help if getting your weight down is becoming a challenge

This is the Inspire Health Podcast from Upland Hills Health. I'm your host, Caitlin Whyte. Now, weight loss is something so many people struggle with at different levels, but it can truly be one of the most discouraging things to set out to do. How can people stay motivated?

Dr. Joseph Berg: Staying motivated is probably the biggest key to weight loss. And I had personal struggles with-- I still have, I mean, everybody has them, most of the time. People that don't are-- I don't like them, anyway. Most people have struggles with weight and I personally did too. And the thing that was difficult to motivate me is not seeing huge changes right away. I think what ultimately affected me and helped me make those changes was making small, incremental changes that I knew I could maintain over time.

Because weight loss isn't about drastic change. You can have weight loss with big change, but that weight loss is often temporary and comes back. So look at what you're doing in your daily life. Make small goals that can be attained and maintained, and then keep yourself accountable.

Caitlin Whyte: Well, of course, you know, everyone wants to know how to lose 10 pounds by the end of the week or just the fastest way possible. But what are some of those small, incremental ways you mentioned that people can get started?

Dr. Joseph Berg: Right. That's a great question. And the key is to look at what you're doing in your life. What I did was I downloaded an application on my smartphone called MyFitnessPal. It's a calorie tracker. There are tons of them. That is one I would recommend. Others would be Lose It!, MyNetDiary. There's a bunch of them on the internet and on your smartphone that you can use. And that I tracked what I was eating, right? And I said, "Okay, I want to lose weight."

And ultimately, weight loss is a calculation. They have done lots of-- they meaning large institutions-- researchers have done lots of research on the physiology of losing weight and does it matter what you eat or can you eat anything. You know, I think there was a professor at Kent State that only ate candy for a month and he still lost weight. So losing weight is about the numbers most importantly.

And so look at what you're eating and try to eat less than what you burn off, right? So that's what I did, you know, I said, "Hey, I'm not going to change anything that I eat. I am only going to fit myself into a calorie goal. I'm going to eat a little bit less." Um, and so I followed that. I tried to give myself an attainable goal, so, right? So it wasn't like a huge calorie deficit where I would feel hungry all the time. I was like, "I'm just going to try to lose a pound a week." And I met that calorie goal every day and, over time, I lost weight.

Now, that's I think not the answer to your question, unfortunately, because you thought about how do I start? I think where you could start would be to get that app and track your calories and not worry about the number to start and just see where your calories are coming from. Because again, the numbers are what is important. So if you're seeing that every evening, you're having a large glass of milk and a cookie because that's what calms you down and gets you to sleep. Not saying that's from personal experience, but hey...

Caitlin Whyte: No, no, of course.

Dr. Joseph Berg: And then you see that, oh, that glass of milk is 180 calories and that cookie is 200 calories and that's almost 400 calories every day that I'm eating, that if I cut out, that's almost a half a pound in a week, right? And then just say, "Hey, like, that's a small change I can make. I don't need that nighttime snack. I can go to bed by drinking a big glass of water and I'll be okay," right? Or, you know, this is Wisconsin and, you know, growing up, I had at least on every weekend or whenever I was with my grandparents, we had happy hour, right? So you have a couple of beers. You have some cheese and crackers, maybe some summer sausage and some popcorn, um, and that's before you eat. And that is a fun activity to have and it's a nice thing to do, but that's a whole bunch of calories. So think about it in terms of that.

There's also other like behavioral changes you can make to just kind of trick your brain into eating less. For example, there's been sociologists that do study on why we eat more or why we snack. So they did an experiment where they gave people candy in a dish, and some people got candy, like without a cover, just sitting on their desk, like next to them. And those people ate almost the entire bowl of candy every time, right?

So then they put a cover on the dish. That reduced their consumption by a certain percentage. What made them eat even less or not eat at all was taking that dish and putting it in a drawer, right? So if you see it or it's easily accessible, you're likely going to eat it. So if you know that there's a thing, that's your vice or that's tough for you to stay away from, um, make it hard to get.

Uh, another example is we often eat things that we don't need to while we're in between things, right? So we're making a meal and we're like trying things as we go on and we're eating a whole bunch, like at least you're shredding cheese and eat half the cheese as you're shredding it, right? So make a commitment to, "You know, what? I'm not going to eat while I'm preparing food. I'm only going to eat the things on my plate." Don't like sample what your kid got at the restaurant. Don't eat right out of the bag of chips. Putting everything on a plate. See the quantity and then eat it.

So those are some small incremental things you can do and start small, right? So, "Hey, I'm going to commit to only eating the things on my plate this week." You can still put everything you want on that plate, but if you only eat the things on your plate, like that will maybe make a change or "Hey, I'm going to have half a cookie at nighttime instead of a whole one." And that's not a lot, but that's something that is a positive change and can help in the long run.

Caitlin Whyte: Well, let's talk about what we eat, you know, there's whole foods and Paleo and vegan diets, and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Are there any that work better or lead to more long lasting results?

Dr. Joseph Berg: No.

Caitlin Whyte: Okay. Well, there you go.

Dr. Joseph Berg: No. I mean I think, again, you know, as a doctor, we always try to look for, okay, what actually works and what has evidence that it works, because diet is largely an anecdotal or an epidemiological study, right? So we look back, we ask people what they ate and we say, "Hey, you lost weight because you ate this." We think that works. But, um, when you try to control things in a more scientific environment, what we find is the only thing that works for weight loss is calorie restriction. And however you do that is however you will lose weight, right?

For example, Atkins. Atkins works because we eat larger amounts of fat and protein, which fill you up faster. So you eat them and then you just don't feel as hungry, so you don't get a lot of the empty calories that you get, say, if you were eating a bag of chips or having a whole bunch of bread. Um, so Atkins can work to help you lose weight, and there's probably some more complicated interactions and people that listen to this and be like, "Oh, he's wrong about Atkins." but generally, it's about the calorie restriction.

Diets don't work and they don't work because you deviate from what you normally do. You make a big change, say, "Hey, I'm going to become Paleo. I'm going to do keto." So you completely change your diet. You do that for a certain period of time, you maintain that as long as you can, but eventually some of those lifestyles, especially lifestyles like keto where you're constantly in a state of ketosis where you're basically starving your body for sugar. You don't feel good when you're in that state. And so you eventually have to start eating a more normal westernized diet. I mean, some people can maintain that, but I think 95% of the population can't.

So when you go back to a normal diet, you haven't made any changes to that. You haven't started new behaviors that are positive, that will keep that weight loss off. So we see people that, "Hey, I lost 30 pounds on keto," and then, they get off of keto and they gain 30 pounds back in a short amount of time. And that is borne out in the literature.

All of these fad diets do not work. They work maybe in the short-term, if you can be disciplined and maintain that diet. But once you decide that you're going to go back to a more normal diet, that all comes back almost, almost every time.

I think whatever you choose to do, however you choose to do it, um, make a goal that you can do and you can attain and you can maintain, and then again, keep yourself accountable. And there's lots of different ways to do that. Have a partner, very popular services. All these services are just ways to keep yourself accountable like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig. Those are all just services were like, "Hey, we restrict your calories and you have somebody to talk to or you have an app on your phone or you have an advisor to just make sure that you're doing what you're supposed to be doing."

The way that I did it as I journaled, right? I wrote to myself. I said, "Hey, this is how I did this week. And I met these goals and this is how I did it. And then here's what's going on next week. And here's where I can get tripped up. There's a birthday party coming up and there might be cake." So I got to make sure I'm going to, you know, run an extra mile or do some extra workouts that day so that I can fit that into my goal.

Caitlin Whyte: Well, I'm pretty bummed you didn't give me the secret to losing 10 pounds by the end of the week, but there are some pretty good tips in here. Thank you so much for coming back on the show, Dr. Berg, and again for helping us with our weight loss journeys.

When it comes to weight loss, the important thing is to get started today. Don't put it off any longer. Find more podcasts at UplandHillsHealth.org/podcasts. This is the Inspire Health podcast. I'm your host, Caitlin Whyte. Stay well.