The first rule when you decide you want to lose weight is to go have a talk with your doctor. Let him or her decide if you need to lose weight, how much, what plan you should follow, what supplements – if any – you should take, and when you should come back for follow-up visits to make sure everything is proceeding as planned.

It will also be helpful if you bring a list of any medications you are taking, as well as any over-the-counter supplements, herbal products, Ayurvedic products, spices for health purposes, and a brief summary of your medical history. It will be important for your doctor to know if you have had any surgery, or if you have heart problems, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, etc. Your doctor will probably know all – or most – of this, but it won’t hurt to put everything done on one piece of paper. Remember to date it and keep a copy for yourself.

It’s especially important to list ALL medications you are taking because sometimes they can contribute to weight gain. Especially if your weight gain is recent, and coincides with the commencement of some new medications.

One test your doctor may want to take is a thyroid test to make sure your thyroid is functioning properly. Have you also become more tired than normal? Note anything in your life that may have changed about the time the weight gain started.

Emotional factors can be a big factor in weight gain. Have elements of your lifestyle changed drastically? Have you moved to a new city, changed jobs, got married, got divorced, and had a child? All of these factors can contribute to a change in your health and weight.

Weight gain does usually come down to “calories in versus calories out”, but sometimes there are other medically related factors that can cause you to put on extra weight.

Another important list to take with you is a list of any questions you may have for your doctor. You may want to ask the following things:

* What is my ideal weight for my bone structure and height?
* Do I really need to lose weight, or shift my weight from fat to muscle mass?
* Could my health problems be causing my weight gain?
* What other problems might I have due to my increased weight?
* Explain the different weight loss medication options to me?
* What about weight loss surgery?

Another good item to take with you is a food journal. Keep a food journal for the two weeks before your appointment, writing down everything you eat, when you eat it, if you were really hungry or succumbing to a craving, was it an emotional hunger or real hunger, did you eat sitting down at a table or cramming the food in your mouth straight from the refrigerator? Don’t worry about what you write, just be brutally honest because it’s for your health that you need to address these issues.

What are your cultural comfort foods? Do you eat at fast food restaurants often? Do you always feel that you have to “clean your plate because there are children starving in Africa”? What kind of programming and triggers lead to your eating?

If you already have a certain diet in mind, such as the Atkins Program, or the Mediterranean Diet, bring the details with you so you doctor can check it out. It’s amazing how many different diet programs there are and it’s even more amazing how uninformed a lot of doctors are about what’s available.

Good luck! Keep your goal in mind, work with your doctor, and remember to include some exercise each day.

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