Is It Time for a Weight Loss Program?

Hattie at the workstation next to you keeps looking a little younger. The fast food wrappers no longer litter her desk, and now she's offered to let you have her size 18 dresses because “they're just too big to even have altered”. How come she's losing weight when you're the one who pulled ten muscle groups at the spa last month? Do you need help losing weight? What should you expect from a good weight loss program? And what about these “new” Diet Pills?

If you are overweight, or have a medical condition in you or your family such as high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease, or adult onset diabetes; you may be a candidate for a medically supervised weight loss program. A properly run program should be able to provide you with precise measurements to guide your decision to participate in one of several alternatives. A good weight loss program should include frequent visits with a physician who is knowledgeable in nutrition, exercise, behavior modification, and weight loss diets. That physician can devise a strategy that fits your needs rather than shoehorn you into a system someone somewhere else set up. Keeping the weight off is as important as losing it in the first place. There have been some exciting new developments in this area that a well trained physician will be aware of. Unfortunately, “physician supervised” has become a buzzword with many different meanings. What should a weight loss program include? Let's go through the Weight Management program at North Florida Medical Clinic and see!

In a TRUE physician supervised program such as North Florida Medical Clinic's, you start out with a complete physical examination by a Board Certified Internal Medicine Specialist. To ensure your safety and detect any medical causes for your weight problem, you will also have bloodwork; urinalysis; and Electrocardiogram. Unless you request otherwise, the results of your studies and reports on your progress will be shared with your personal physician, and we encourage his or her input. If you aren't sure you need to lose weight, we will provide you guidelines to help you make an informed choice. A very unique portion of our program is the use of the “BOD POD, or Computer Assisted Air Densitometry Device. This special instrument is the only one of its kind in Florida! We have the accuracy of water immersion body composition analysis(currently the “Gold Standard”), but you stay completely dry! And since you don't have to hold your breath underwater, it is actually fun! After your initial examination and studies are reviewed with you by your physician, you begin a weight management program designed for your needs. You will be seen at least weekly to start with, and then at least every 2 weeks until you reach your goal. You will see your physician each time you come in. You will receive training in behavior modification techniques that will make your diet easier and the effects longer lasting. We often supplement a diet consisting of choices from the four food groups with high quality carbohydrate and protein supplements to optimize fat loss versus muscle loss. We assist you in designing an exercise program that you can safely enjoy, or in the case of the most resolute couch potato, at least tolerate. After you lose your weight safely, we start you on a maintenance program that will help you keep the weight off. Remember that several studies have shown that continued exercise and adherence to lifestyle changes are paramount to keeping your losses.

“Diet Pills” have received a lot of press recently. Dexfenfluramine (Redux), for example, is a purified derivative of the old drug Fenfluramine (Pondimin), and recently was approved by the FDA for long term use in certain circumstances. The main advantage of Redux appears to be fewer side-effects in some people. The combination of Phentermine & Fenfluramine has actually been around since the seventies, but has found new interest when used as part of a comprehensive weight management program. The last part of that statement is crucial for success in weight loss… a “Diet Pill” may keep you from feeling hungry but that doesn't mean you'll lose weight safely, if at all!

Unfortunately there are “Pill Mills” around that claim “Physician Supervised” and will gladly dispense meds to you but won't advise you how much to lose or how best to go about it. Without proper supervision and guidance you could look and feel more like Ghandi after his hunger strike than super model material. All medications have dangerous side effects and your physician should be well versed in how they affect you. Some non prescription “herbal” remedies such as Ma Huang and Chromium Picolinate are under investigation for dangerous side effects and false claims.

No program can honestly “guarantee” that you will lose weight. Experience does count, and the Physicians at North Florida Medical Clinic have over five years experience with more than 2,000 patients in a comprehensive program including body composition analysis; diet therapy; behavior modification; exercise prescription; and medication (when indicated). Some parts of our program have been used to promote the health of our Internal Medicine patients since 1985!

Assuming you join the right program it won't be long before you're loaning Hattie your size 14 outfits since “I'm getting a whole new wardrobe”