BY JAMIE LOBER
These local doctors don’t just tell you to lose weight, they also tell you how to do it.
Everyone knows that the most popular New Year’s resolution is weight loss. Pat yourself on the back if you or your child needs to shed some pounds and you resolve to do it this year. Whether you are on your own or you are enlisting the help of a weight-loss clinic, you need to know what safe and effective weight loss programs include. With these tips from local experts, your whole family can look and feel good all year through.
It is not necessarily about how much you eat but what you eat. For adults, know the basic rules such as being careful with salt, fried foods, fast foods, and snack foods. Still, portion size is one key to losing weight. “The serving size for meats should be no bigger than your fist,” said Dr. Thomas Kehl of Medi-Weight Loss Clinic in Macon. If you eat at home, eat on a small plate and try to avoid seconds. “Eat a little slower and try to drink at least one or two glasses of water with the meal,” said Kehl. Avoid excess alcohol consumption as it goes straight to your waistline.
When you understand why some diets fail, it can help you to be successful. Usually patients get disenchanted when weight comes off too slowly. “Excellent research shows that the more aggressive weight loss diets are better for keeping the weight off in the long-term,” said Kehl. If patients do not feel good or are listless during an aggressive diet, it will fail as well. This is why sometimes supplements are used. Patients also may have a hard time combating hunger and will throw their hands in the air and decide to be chubby. But with the right diet that eliminates empty carbohydrates and fats, you can enjoy eating and feel completely satisfied.
Try to get moving if you are able to do so. “Exercise is important for muscle tone and increasing calorie consumption, but dramatic weight loss can also be achieved without strenuous exercise,” said Dr. Maria Cavaliere. It is never too late to get started. “Considering the obesity epidemic, we will be seeing large increases in diabetes and hypertension over the next ten years, but with diet and education we are able to reverse the process,” she says. “Losing weight can improve your quality of life, and it also has the potential to decrease the number of medications you take.”
Some people are able to safely lose weight on their own while others prefer support or can benefit from physician supervision. It is about making the commitment to invest in your health. “As we gain weight and adipose (body fat) tissue that we should not have, we have an increased propensity for high blood pressure, cholesterol problems which can lead to heart and vascular problems, and an increased tendency to become diabetic. We want to avoid the increased stress on our heart and blood vessels. Maintaining our weight is the best way to try to increase our longevity,” said Kehl.
It is important to be evaluated before starting a dramatic diet program to make sure you have no underlying medical problems. In my program, says Dr. Cavaliere, “An induction phase diet would consist of mostly proteins and monitor the urine for ketosis.” You may make adjustments one at a time such as avoiding flour, pasta and potatoes. “A maintenance phase would reintroduce carbohydrates, and medications that accelerate the basal metabolism would be titrated to the individual with a mixture of short and long-term acting agents,” she added. “Specific vitamins and minerals supplement the diet, and you are monitored for deficiencies.” The good news is that weight loss can be achieved by almost anybody and where there is a will, there is usually a way. The results are not only cosmetic, but you become much healthier, adding years to your life.
Some experts, including Dr. Kehl, feel there are three phases to weight loss. The first phase is aggressive where the calorie levels are low and patients are monitored frequently to be sure it is safe. This continues until the patient has reached what the physician decides is a healthy weight for them. “The second phase is the short-term phase or transition phase where we are trying to teach the body to stay within a narrow range of weight,” he says. The diet is gradually liberalized and becomes more balanced.
Balance is the key. “A selected amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats is the best thing,” said Kehl. If patients are on any prescription supplements, they begin to wean off. The third phase is the wellness phase where patients follow up once a month to maintain their weight. “It is about finding the plan that best suits your lifestyle and needs,” said Kehl.
For children and adults, a healthy weight is determined by body mass index (BMI) which considers how your height and weight measure up. A BMI chart is available at kidshealth.com where you can place your child’s age, weight, height in the calculator and come out with the BMI and percentile (how your child compares to others of his age and sex). But it is also important for your child’s doctor to perform regular BMI measurements. While the BMI tool is not perfect (as body build and muscle can push the weight up), it’s invaluable in bringing attention to those who are actually overweight. The eighty-fifth through ninety-fourth percentile is considered overweight, and ninety-five and above is considered obese, which increases the risk of weight-related health problems.
“Typically the advantage kids have over adults is that they are going to get taller,” said Dr. Seth Bush, pediatrician at Middle Georgia Pediatrics in Macon. By following a simple plan, your child can begin dropping pounds immediately. “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the 5210 plan which stands for five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, only two hours of screen time, one hour of exercise, and zero sweet foods and sugar containing beverages,” said Dr. Bush. Kids should be drinking more water and skim milk, and if losing weight, should check in with the pediatrician every month to make sure they are staying on track. “The fact that they are held accountable keeps them on target,” said Bush.
If you are afraid to talk to your child about weight loss, change your perspective. “It is about how your family can be healthier, make healthier food choices, and exercise more to promote health,” said Bush. Take control of what you purchase and bring into the home. Try to establish healthy eating habits at a young age, so when they become older they can buy the right foods. Even within the food guide pyramid you can make good and bad choices. For example, “In the grains category, you want to eat whole grains and stay away from biscuits, white bread, and white rice. You want to eat more fish and turkey and less beef which has more fat,” said Bush.