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Treatment Hurdles: Time

Today’s post is another excerpt from “Best Weight: A Practical Guide to Office-Based Weight Management“, recently published by the Canadian Obesity Network.

This guide is meant for health professionals dealing with obese clients and is NOT a self-management tool or weight-loss program. However, I assume that even general readers may find some of this material of interest.


Lack of time is one of the most common barriers to persisting with a weight management strategy. Planning a healthy diet, preparing home-cooked meals and exercising all require a significant investment of time. It bears repeating: patients need to recognize that obesity is a chronic disease that has no “cure,” that long-term treatment is necessary, and that this treatment involves permanent changes to their daily routines.

The weight management strategy you design with a patient must therefore be simple, enjoyable and adapted to their particular schedule so they can follow it over the long-term.

The time required will vary from one patient to the next, but it is safe to assume that a patient who is unable to commit to 30 minutes per day of combined dietary and fitness effort will be unlikely to succeed with weight management using a purely behavioural strategy. Asking patients whether they feel they can find 30 minutes a day for their weight management effort will help to assess their readiness and willingness to change.

Patients looking for quick fixes from pharmacological or surgical assistance must be reminded that dietary changes and physical activity are just as essential with pharmacological and surgical treatment as they are without them. Pharmacological treatment without lifestyle changes produces only very modest weight loss: 1.8 to 2.7 kgs (4 to 6 lbs) on average. Patients who undergo surgery have to be able to devote a significant amount of their time to shopping for, preparing and eating appropriate meals. If they cannot find the time to do this, they will be unable to achieve and maintain good results with either medication or surgery.

© Copyright 2010 by Dr. Arya M. Sharma and Dr. Yoni Freedhoff. All rights reserved.

The opinions in this book are those of the authors and do not represent those of the Canadian Obesity Network.

Members of the Canadian Obesity Network can download Best Weight for free.

Best Weight is also available at Amazon and Barnes & Nobles (part of the proceeds from all sales go to support the Canadian Obesity Network)

If you have already read Best Weight, please take a few minutes to leave a review on the Amazon or Barnes & Nobles website.


  1. I’m a long-term weight loss maintainer (having gone from a high of 227 to a current weight of about 168–that’s a BMI of 26–since 2001). In my experience, it’s pretty optimistic for doctors to think that people are going to get any serious weight loss out of a 30 minute a day commitment.

    My body seems to require at minimum 1800 or so calories a day of high-quality food, or I start feeling desperately hungry, even if my activity is pretty low. To lose weight on that allotment, I need to burn at least 2300 calories/day. To achieve that on top of my sedentary job, I need to get at least a full hour of hard exercise sometime during the day in addition to little tricks like walking up stairs and parking my car farther away. I also spend a substantial amount of time preparing home-cooked whole foods meals (I might spend a whole day on that on the weekend) because if I eat packaged/processed foods I get hungrier, and I spend about 20 minutes a day on the computer logging my food intake and downloading calorie burn totals from my Bodybugg.

    When I was in my phases of active weight loss, a pound or two a week, I often did two sessions of exercise per day — about an hour of walking or running in the morning, and then another 45 minutes to an hour of cardio or weights in the evening.

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  2. I already spend a lot more than 1/2 hour a day cooking and exercising, and I’m obese. Also, I don’t feel diseased. I feel like a woman with a big, strong, graceful body. Do you feel comfortable with a certain weight/height ratio being defined as a disease? It doesn’t make any sense at all to me.

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  3. Yes, I agree that it takes a lot of time to change a lifestyle and learn/implement them into your life. I have lost 40 lbs. so far and it definately takes a commitment. I still have 60 more to go. I walk 30 mins. per day with my dog and also go to the gym 3x/week for additional 20 mins. cardio on the Arc Trainer and then 45 mins weights. I also take the time on the weekend to cook/prepare healthy foods for the week so that I also get the benefit of clean eating/wholesome foods. One thing that I find is not addressed as much as it should be is the fact that people need to be taught how to manage their emotional eating. I can try hard all week and not make one mistake and then I become anxious about something and a whole weeks worth of hard work is down the drain. This happens on a regular basis and I become frustrated because I don’t see the weight coming off like it should. I am now focusing on learning how to calm myself during stressful situations and hopefully this will be the final key to the puzzle.

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