| How lifestyle changes through medically supervised programs can benefit your waistline and your overall health |
AFTER THE INDULGENCES of holiday parties and family gatherings, weight loss may top your list of New Year’s resolutions. As we embrace a new year and new goals, few people engage their doctor during their weight loss journey. Yet, having a physician to help you stay on course while on the road to weight loss can have multiple benefits.
“Limiting food portion sizes, decreasing intake of caloric-containing beverages and increasing physical activity are a great starting point,” advises Dr. Jeremy Katzmann, a family medicine specialist at Watson Clinic’s Lakeland Highlands office and a Polk County Medical Association member. “Jump start your metabolism by eating a healthy breakfast and decreasing the amount of bad carbohydrates, such as white bread, white rice, pasta, and potatoes.” Whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans, as well as lean meats, are advised. Chicken, turkey, and fish are safer than red meat, he adds.
“Setting realistic goals and viewing your program as a lifestyle change will help to improve your health,” Dr. Katzmann recommends.
In Polk County, Florida’s Department of Health reports 71.5 percent of the county’s population was overweight or obese in 2013, which was significantly larger than the statewide average of 62.8 percent. The community is working to combat the obesity problem through Building a Healthier Polk, a group organized through the community-led partnership, Polk Vision.
A new program offered by Women’s Care Florida–Lakeland OB-GYN can help postpartum women — and females from teens to the elderly — achieve a healthy weight. Called Lakeland Wellness and Weight Loss, the program can enable patients to lose five to 10 pounds in the first week, and 15 to 20 pounds in the first month. “Motivation on the patient’s part is key,” says the program’s director, Dr. Jeffrey Puretz, an obstetrician/gynecologist and senior partner in Women’s Care Florida–Lakeland OB-GYN, as well as a Polk County Medical Association member.
Drs. Puretz and Jennifer Nixon, also a Lakeland OB/GYN and a PCMA member, will work with patients. The program, which is open to new and existing patients, may include appetite suppressants, plus a low glycemic diet, lean protein, education, exercise, weekly follow-up visits, and a weight maintenance phase. “We really found we had a need for a program like this,” Dr. Puretz explains. “I’m very excited about it. It’s going to do a lot of good for our patients.” The program is individualized and offers emotional support. “Patients can call at any time,” he says. Drinking plenty of water to keep the metabolism up is also part of the program, he points out.
Here are some more DOs and DON’Ts for those who want to lose weight:
• DO consider checking with your doctor, especially if you have an underlying health condition or a family history of heart disease or diabetes. A new routine may bring a problem to light, suggests Chris Jessee, director of Rehabilitative Services at Lake Wales Medical Center.
• DO eat smaller, frequent meals, advises Dr. Katzmann.
• DO make small sustainable changes long term, suggests Nancy Ulm, a nutrition education specialist at Watson Clinic.
• DO stay active. “It doesn’t have to be extremely vigorous to be beneficial,” explains Jessee. “When people exercise they tend to feel better. They like to do the exercise once they get into it.”
• DO combine dietary management and exercise for maximum benefit, says Jessee, a licensed physical therapist who holds a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology. Activity raises the metabolic rate for 24 hours, enabling you to burn more calories.
• DO find something you enjoy doing for exercise.
• DO have a cheerleader. Having at least one person can help you stay on track, Ulm points out.
• DO check your insurance policy to see if you have coverage. A doctor’s referral may be required for reimbursement.
• DON’T engage in negative self talk. It can be self-defeating, Ulm says.
• DON’T skip meals. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks, Ulm continues.
• DON’T overdo the exercise. Build up slowly to avoid overworking unused muscles and joints, Jessee says. “You don’t have to become a marathon runner to get some benefit. You just need to get out and do a little more,” he explains.
An ideal place to discuss weight is at our primary care physician’s office, but a number of factors may be hindering our ability to get help, shows a new study by Building a Healthier Polk, Strategy 3 Primary Care Provider Focus Group.
“If the doctor doesn’t bring it up, the patient should,” advises Dr. Joy Jackson, a group member who serves as medical director for the Florida Department of Health in Polk County and Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine. “An individual is ultimately responsible.”
The doctor may be afraid of offending the patient, or patient’s parents. Or they may lack time, educational tools, resources, and confidence that their suggestions will make a difference, the study reveals. In addition, the study finds the discussion may be inappropriate during a visit focused on an acute health condition. Or language barriers may exist. Medicaid also may not reimburse them.
Additionally, the doctors may believe their patients don’t have the money to follow through with dietary changes and exercise. After all, a box of macaroni and cheese is cheaper than fresh fruits and vegetables.
Sometimes parents may deny that their children have a problem. Patients may want a quick fix without commitment. Or they may lack a medical home, making it more difficult to address weight concerns. They may not realize even a hundred extra calories a day can mean 10 extra pounds in a year.
Some patients may be focused on their looks rather than real health consequences of being overweight— like diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, and other complications, the study shows. Although a majority of patients want to lose weight, many are not good at making lifestyle changes. And, because so many people are overweight, there is reduced stigma. They may deny they need to lose, or prefer a pill to get the job done.
Although we’re bombarded by infomercials promising a quick fix, “the most sustainable weight loss is when you make lifestyle changes,” Dr. Jackson asserts. “Avoid fad diets.”
The best thing to do is avoid becoming overweight or obese by having a heavy lifestyle from childhood, she advises. “Children learn from their environment,” she continues. “They watch what we eat, and whether we exercise and take care of ourselves.”
Doctors are seeing the results of obesity: More youths are dying of heart attacks and strokes; more adolescents are suffering from Type II diabetes; and it is becoming harder to control high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure, the study shows. More patients have hip and joint pain. Indeed, the report confirms that the cost of chronic disease management and frequent hospitalizations has impacted the entire healthcare industry.
Whether the reasons for your weight loss New Year’s resolution include better health for managing and preventing chronic disease, or better looks along with more self-confidence about your physical appearance, the benefits of including your healthcare provider can give you a clear advantage on the road to weight loss.
article by CHERYL ROGERS
Polk Vision is holding its annual kickoff for Building a Healthier Polk from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on January 12 at Lake Mirror Promenade and the Peggy Brown Building in Lakeland. Activities begin with a fun walk around Lake Mirror, followed by the program at 5 p.m. inside the Peggy Brown Building. The kickoff will include the highlights of 2014 and priorities for 2015.