We are in the midst of a tough season for weight loss patients: SUMMER. Between high-calorie backyard BBQs, hot weather that makes us more lethargic, and sweet cold treats, there are so many reasons why patients falling victim to summer weight gain.
OK, we get it already! Being overweight has all these health risks… and two-thirds of people are overweight… and being overweight can complicate chronic conditions… and you have to lose weight NOW! Stop eating your favorite foods. Eat less. Workout, workout, workout…
Losing weight is easy — said no one ever! Patients sometimes approach weight loss with unrealistic expectations. Some think that if they just exercise and eat better, the weight will melt off and they’ll drop 20 pounds in a couple weeks. However, the reality is that people can work really hard, be super committed to their diet and exercise plan, and yet still not see the kind of progress they hope for as quickly as they want to see it. On top of the fact that in this time of the year, patients may also be dealing with winter weight gain that has thrown off their previous progress. So is it time to throw in the towel?
The winter months can be fun and festive. It’s also the season when dieters can lose momentum and throw months of progress right out the window. According to research reported by Johns Hopkins University, people tend to gain five to seven pounds on average during the winter months. Sounds like Santa isn’t the only one enjoying some cookies and milk.
Dieters don’t need to be doomed to winter weight gain. Being aware of the common causes for seasonal weight gain can help dieters work to avoid the usual hurdles, and set themselves up for a positive start to the New Year. Here are three of the most common causes for winter weight gain, and what dieters can do to stay on track when the weather outside is frightful:
1. COLD WEATHER: Finding time to take a walk seems a lot easier when the weather is warm and beautiful — but not so much when it’s below freezing and there’s snow on the ground. Dieters may even lose motivation to go to the gym when they have to leave their comfy, warm house and defrost the car.
What can you do? Call on your friends, family, or significant other to help hold you accountable to your workout routine. Give yourself an incentive to go, such as putting $5 in a jar every time you do a workout. Use the money at the end of the week to treat yourself to some shopping or a healthy snack. You can also consider using a workout app or routine that can be done in the comfort of your living room so you never even have to leave the house. For workouts you can do at home in just seven minutes with just a chair and a wall, try this app.
2. HOLIDAY MEALS: The winter months can mean quality time with family and friends, as well as fun holiday parties for work. Those gatherings tend to have a lot of fattening and sugary foods that can easily throw a dieter off.
What can you do? Never attend a holiday party hungry. Eat a healthy, protein-filled meal before going to the party to control hunger and make it easier to beat cravings. Bringing a protein-rich meal replacement bar or shake can also help if hunger strikes during the event. For even more tips on how to avoid holiday snacking, check out this recent blog.
3. WINTER GROGGINESS: The cold weather and decreased sunlight can cause many people to feel extra sleepy, causing a lack of motivation to stay active. Winter grogginess can even negatively influence productivity during the day and at the workplace, impacting not just our weight but our overall mood. This can cause a snowball effect.
What can you do? Find a few moments throughout the day to get up, move around, and increase your energy. Deskercise is a great way to stay active throughout the day by decreasing your sitting time at work, and you can do it right at your desk! Incorporating energizing routines like this can also help keep you motivated throughout the winter season.
What are some other challenges to staying on a diet during the winter months? Share with us on Facebook, and let’s toss around some ideas of how to stay on track through the New Year!
Source: Eat This, Not That
Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation
When it comes to calorie counting, not many people — if any at all — like doing it. It’s monotonous, tedious, and restrictive. It takes all the joy out of eating. You counted all your calories, so you should be losing weight, right? Well, not necessarily. If you stop to think about what a calorie is, you will find that it’s not just how many calories you consume that affects healthy weight loss, but what kinds of calories.
Download the Calorie Equation: Learn to indulge in colorful, flavorful foods without loads of calories with this picture lesson from Dr. Howard Shapiro’s book, Picture Perfect Weight Loss.
Simply put, a calorie is a unit of energy. Our bodies actually need calories to survive because without energy, our cells would die, and our organs would stop functioning. We acquire this energy through food and drink in the form of calories. The number of calories food contains tells us how much potential energy they possess.
Keeping track of how many calories one consumes is, of course, important to weight loss. If you burn off more calories than you consume through physical activity, the body will locate other calories to burn for energy, ultimately using the calories from the body’s fat reserves, and thus stimulating weight loss.
The problem comes in when “empty calories” are consumed; that is, foods high in energy but low in nutritional value. Such foods include fast foods, and foods high in fat and/or sugar, such as ice cream and bacon. More than 11% of Americans’ daily calories come from fast foods, and Americans consume an average of 336 calories per day from sugary beverages alone. To put it more simply, 2,000 calories in the form of vegetables and lean protein will provide a very different result than 2,000 calories in the form of a large fast food burger.
Ultimately, to achieve fast and, most importantly, healthy weight loss, it is important to advise patients to stick to a low calorie diet, but through foods and supplements that are high in nutritional value. Many people continue to find it challenging to stick to a low calorie diet on their own. This is why it is important for health professionals to be proactive in asking overweight patients about their weight loss goals*, and educating them not just about the benefits of achieving a healthy weight, but also about the options that are available to them, such as a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) or Low Calorie Diet (LCD). With a medically supervised VLCD, patients could expect to lose 3-5 pounds a week, enjoying a variety of meal replacements, snacks, and food products that taste great and are scientifically designed to have high nutritional value.
Obesity is on the rise, and healthcare costs and early mortality rates are rising with it. But adding weight loss as a service for your patients is easier than you might think, and can actually get started in 60 days or less with the help of an experienced partner. Contact Robard today and learn how you can increase the quality of care for your patients by starting an obesity treatment program.
*For practical tips on how to speak with patients about their weight, check out this free webcast!
Sources: Medical News Today
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2017 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
Blog written and edited by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation
“You can make $20 per stool sample?” You would have thought I had won the jackpot! I just thought my colleagues and I were getting one over on the “Diarrhea Clinic” in Guadalajara, Mexico. I attended medical school there and was making a habit of “donating” regularly. What I did not realize was that I wasn’t just suffering from “Montezuma’s Revenge.” It wasn’t until I returned home that I learned I had Crohn’s Colitis, an often debilitating inflammatory condition of the GI tract characterized by abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. It can often result in multiple surgeries to remove diseased colon and worse, colon cancer.
I spent the next several years on different medications including monthly infusions and weekly injections, all of which had many side effects. During my residency, I spent 10 days in the hospital due to a flare that resulted in over 20 abnormal stools per day, anemia, and almost constant pain. Despite this, I returned to my career determined to not let this disease slow me down.
I became a family doctor and practiced in the primary care setting for nine years. During that time, I discovered a passion for bariatric medicine. This evolved out of a desire to keep myself healthy which required changes in my diet. I found that eliminating processed foods and added sugars, except those naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables, helped me to keep my colitis at bay. With the help of an excellent gastroenterologist, I healed and continued to enjoy excellent health for many years. However, this hasn’t always been easy and this is where bariatrics comes back into the picture.
Taking care of myself every moment of every day requires a lot of work. It means pushing myself to exercise even when I am exhausted. It requires eating salads and protein when others are enjoying pizza or ice cream. It requires actively engaging in positive thinking and using tools like meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy and affirmations to manage stress levels. And I don’t always feel like doing these things. These are exactly the same challenges that, on a day to day basis, my bariatric patients experience.
I find that using these tools myself adds an additional layer of empathy and relatability to counseling my patients that otherwise wouldn’t be there. They often greatly appreciate this and find that I am able to help in a very unique way because I “get it.” I share my story with patients because when a doctor is able to be vulnerable, they realize they are not alone and that anything is possible.
Every day, I continue to discover new and powerful ways to care for myself, mind, body, and spirit. As my practice continues to evolve, I incorporate as many of these amazing modalities as possible. I hired a mind-body medicine physician to teach yoga, meditation and other skills who has inspired many of my patients. I have a behavioral counselor who keeps us all on track. But most of all, my patients, staff and I are all just trying to be the best version of ourselves on this human journey. I still struggle regularly — as do my patients — but we all have found better ways to be in this world. And because of that, I have found this work far more gratifying than anything I could have imagined and I believe my patients are better for it.
We all experience stress in our lives. But, did you know that stress could be a contributor to weight gain and preventing you from losing weight? Stress causes our bodies to produce increased amounts of stress hormones. These hormones cause a rush of adrenaline that is sometimes referred to as the “Fight or Flight Response.” When the brain receives a signal that the body is under stress, it releases the stress hormones to help the body endure whatever is upon it. It makes one ready for action and endurance. The human body is made to survive.
However, after the adrenaline rush is over, the body continues to make cortisol. This is the hormone that triggers hunger or the “replenish mode.” For our ancestors, this was necessary. They may have gone long periods of time without eating and endured a harsh physical environment without knowing when they would eat again. Our ancestors needed the cortisol due to high levels of physical stress and activity. Often, they burned double the calories they consumed just looking for their food.
We can hardly say that now. However, despite the decline in physical activity, we are under as much stress today as our ancestors. Much of our stress comes in the form of mental and emotional. Even physical stress, such as chronic illness, brings with it an emotional toll.
Cortisol and the “replenish mode” are designed to allow for survival. Cortisol slows our metabolism to conserve energy and resources. This means we hang on to fat stores. This may not have been a problem for our great-great-great grandparents who hunted and gathered their food supply, however, driving to the nearest drive-through or ordering take-out is not such strenuous work. Add a slow metabolism from cortisol and you get added weight gain.
So, how can you start now to decrease your stress and prevent weight gain? Here are some tips:
1. Take your vitamins. Your B-vitamins and magnesium to be exact. The B-vitamins provide energy and nervous system function and magnesium is known to reduce anxiety. Most of us are not getting enough of these vitamins in our diets.
2. Get protein for breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day only if it is protein packed. Experts recommend 35 grams or more to get your metabolism cranked, increase your energy level, and keep you satiated longer.
3. Exercise more. Not only are you burning calories and increasing your metabolism, you are reducing your stress level. When you are on the elliptical, bike, treadmill, or in a yoga pose, you can sweat away the day’s concerns and burn off that adrenaline.
4. Get a good night’s sleep. At least 7-9 hours per night to combat cravings. Lack of sleep makes you hungry.
5. No crash diets or starving. When you drastically restrict a food group or reduce your calorie intake, you slow your metabolism further. This will not help when under stress. Instead, find a well-balanced, high protein, low carb diet plan and drink plenty of water. There are plenty of food options for quick, on-the-go nutrition and protein.
6. Eat mindfully. By eating slowly, you give your body time to realize you are full. Mindful eating makes us more aware of emotional eating and combats the cortisol levels our bodies are producing from stress.
7. Seek help. Often stress in life is more than we can handle alone. Seek out a therapist, a health care professional, a support group, or health coach. Do not be ashamed to ask assistance during a difficult time.
experience working at the Dr. Rogers Centers, a provider of fitness,
wellness and weight loss services in San Antonio, Texas, behavioral
techniques are introduced to help participants modify eating and
exercise habits. Weight loss program participants have access to a
Licensed Professional Counselor/Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor
to receive cognitive behavioral therapy to help treat their symptoms and
how to think differently about food and their lives.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
According to the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists,
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes
the importance of thinking about how we feel and what we do. Much of
this therapy involves changing our thoughts about different aspects of
our lives. This therapy also utilizes mindfulness therapy to keep the
participant in the present moment to help relieve anxieties about past
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques can help
controlling cravings and primitive impulses. Cravings and other
addictive behaviors that trigger pleasure are controlled by our limbic
system, sometimes called the “lizard brain.” Our primal instincts are
managed in this part of the brain as well. During mindfulness therapy,
breathing techniques are used to reengage the frontal cortex. The
frontal cortex supports impulse control and is also responsible for
decision making. Weight loss program participants can make clearer,
conscious decisions about their cravings through this simple therapy.
The Reciprocal Relationship
weight loss program participants suffer from co-occurring disorders —
typically obesity and depression, or obesity and anxiety. With Cognitive
Behavioral Therapy, healthcare professionals are able to treat both
problems. It is important to treat both issues simultaneously as they
are in a reciprocal relationship and will feed off of each other.
Learning what our triggers are and recognizing our disordered eating
patterns is the key to success. There must be an understanding that food
is not the problem; rather, food is fuel for our bodies. The problems
lie in our lifestyles, are emotional, and can even involve negative
feelings towards certain foods or exercise.
addition to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and understanding the
relationship between obesity and mental health issues, a professional
counselor may recommend supplements to support mental health. Exercise
is one example of a “supplement.” It increases dopamine, which is the
“feel good” chemical in our brains. Instead of increasing dopamine from
unhealthy cravings or other addictions, exercise can be used to achieve
Other vitamins and nutrients that are commonly recommended are:
• Vitamin D3:
Important for all body functions. For brain health, it helps to release
neurotransmitters that affect brain function and development.
Converts into two important chemicals: Melatonin and serotonin.
Melatonin supports sleep and wake cycles. Serotonin is known for being a
“happy chemical” and supports positive mood and outlook.
• Calcium: Essential for healthy brain function. Deficiencies can lead to anxiety and moodiness.
medical professionals interested in turnkey weight loss programs that
incorporate all of the elements for behavioral change for long-lasting
results, you can request more information here.
Also, take a look at Robard’s upcoming webcast on “Brain Systems
Underlying the Munchies.” To register for this webcast, please click here.
Blog written by Gabrielle Harden, Guest Blogger
Losing weight is easy — said no one ever! Perhaps you thought that if you exercise and eat better, the weight will just melt off and you’ll drop five pounds in a couple weeks. However, the reality is that you can work really hard, be super committed to your diet and exercise plan, and yet still not see the kind of progress you hope for as quickly as you want to see it. So is it time to throw in the towel?
No way. Remember that the journey of weight loss is a process, filled with ups and downs. A lot of factors may contribute to weight not coming off quickly; but as you work to figure it out, it’s important to have some tools that will keep you in the game mentally so that you maintain the motivation to keep going, despite slow or even backwards progress.
Take a look at our slideshow of five tips that will help you stay motivated to keep trying, even if you aren’t losing weight. If you’re doing this on your own and have a significant amount of weight to lose, finding a provider to help you can make all the difference. A provider can get you started on a medically supervised diet, where dieters lose three-five pounds a week on average.
For healthcare providers whose patients struggle with losing weight, learn more about how a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) can create fast and lasting results, and then contact us for more information here.
Blog written by By Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation