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A 'Mental Diet' for Weight Management



Getting healthy and losing weight is not an easy endeavor — especially, if you are not following a mental diet. So much energy and focus tends to go into the physical components of weight management, but the mental aspects are just as vital. I would like to propose a “Mental Diet” to go along with the physical aspects of weight management.

For Breakfast
The morning can be a critical compass to direct your focus for the day. Even if you are not a “morning person” that is full of energy, it is important is to start your day off with intention. This means that you will set aside time for self-care before too many responsibilities or distractions consume your morning. The morning is actually the best time for exercise or meditation, even if it is for five minutes, as you will have less excuses/distractions and more “willpower” in the morning. As the day progresses, we deplete our “willpower tank” which tends to result in an inability to tackle difficult tasks in the evening. So, the ingredients for a good mental breakfast include: At least five minutes of exercise or meditation, self-focus, gain insight and perspective on the day and start the day after taking care of yourself first.

For Lunch
It is important that you schedule time to break for lunch. If you are the type of person that gets busy and easily distracted, you will want to set an alarm to remind yourself to take a break. We are such as fast-paced society that we may not pay attention to how much and how fast we are eating. It’s not uncommon for people to engage in “mindless” eating while sitting at their desk, in front of the TV or driving — suddenly you realize that the food is gone and you have not paid attention to satiety. Instead of just go through the motions of putting food in your mouth, focus on eating slowly and truly paying attention to each bite and monitoring how we feel. The ingredients for a healthy mental lunch include: 15-30 minutes to recharge by refueling with a calm, mindful meal or shake.

For Dinner
You need to have a moment to digest the day. It is important to recognize that “emotional eating” and cravings may increase toward the end of the day. Unfortunately, you may have used most of the energy from your “willpower tank” and begin to want sweets or snacks after dinner. After a long day, “rewarding” yourself with unhealthy foods may sound like the perfect way to unwind. However, indulging in unhealthy foods will only leave you craving more and potentially feeling guilt and remorse. Instead of trying to “eat” your emotions, talk it out or journal your thoughts and feelings. As you prepare for sleep, limit your time with “screens” such as TV, phones and computers and start to focus on relaxation. So the healthy mental dinner includes: Reduce the mental weight of the day by writing down three things that went well for the day and if there is anything that you might need to do for the following day.

Behavioral change and extensive patient education materials are interwoven into all of Robard’s weight loss programs. If you’re a medical provider and would like more information, click here.

Blog written by Devin Vicknair, Ph.D., LPC, Behavioral Health Coordinator at Gwinnett Medical Center: Center for Weight Management.




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You Can’t Afford to Ignore Obesity: How Obesity Treatment Saves Time, Money and Lives



Why should a busy healthcare provider take time out of their day to treat obesity when their patients are dealing with so many other health issues? This seems to be the prevailing question among many providers, despite obesity’s 2013 designation as a disease. There are so many other diseases and ailments that need to be treated, so why obesity?

The answer: Because we can’t afford not to! And that applies to time, money and the health of your patients.

It’s true that chronic diseases suck up the majority of healthcare resources; 75 percent of all health care costs are linked to chronic conditions. People with chronic conditions are the most frequent users of health care in the U.S., and they account for 81 percent of hospital admissions; 91 percent of all prescriptions filled; and 76 percent of all physician visits. Chronic disease is widespread, and it’s only getting worse. By 2025, chronic diseases will affect an estimated 164 million Americans — nearly half (49 percent) of the population

In response to the growing concern over chronic disease, many healthcare providers and hospitals are investing thousands of dollars in resources and time to implement multi-level treatment plans targeting chronic conditions. But the question many advocates are forgetting to ask is: What is one of the most common links between many chronic conditions?

The answer: OBESITY.

Obesity is associated with significantly increased risk of more than 20 chronic diseases and health conditions that cause devastating consequences and increased mortality. Consider the following statistics:

• In the often-cited Framingham Offspring Study, obesity was responsible for 78 percent of cases of hypertension in men and 64 percent in women
• The well-known Nurses’ Health Study of more than 44,000 women found high waist circumference resulted in a two-fold increase in coronary heart disease
More than 85 percent of people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight, and more than 50 percent are obese
• Overweight and obesity are associated with increased mortality from diabetes and kidney disease, resulting in over 60,000 excess deaths per year

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Obesity, in many cases, is the direct cause of many of the chronic conditions that we are spending so much time and money treating. Many of these conditions can be prevented, delayed, or alleviated by simply treating the cause, not just the symptoms. Research shows that modest weight loss (five to 10 percent of body weight) can reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions dramatically, and this amount of weight loss is achievable through various evidence-based medical obesity treatment models.

Not only can obesity treatment save physicians time and money by decreasing healthcare costs associated with comorbid chronic conditions, it has also been shown to be a proven revenue generating model, with real financial benefits. In a climate when we’re unsure about where we will stand with insurance and Medicare, it is imperative for healthcare providers to proactively look for new and innovative models to save time and money, and ultimately, to save lives.

Are you still asking yourself, “Why treat obesity?”


Sources: Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, Hospitals & Health Networks, Stop Obesity Alliance

Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation


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How Hormone Havoc Prevents Weight Loss



Have you ever thought there must be more to losing weight than just dieting and exercise? Well, it turns it you are right! Gaining and losing weight can be due to many things, for example:  Sleep deprivation, nutritional imbalances, genetics, environmental toxins, gut flora imbalances, food addictions, allergies, and inflammation.1 Frequently ignored is the impact of hormones on weight and metabolism. Hormones determine what your body does with food; therefore, balanced hormones are crucial to controlling weight

In men and women, hormone production declines with age which can trigger a sluggish metabolism and weight gain. Body shape changes (almost always an indicator of hormonal imbalance) with fat appearing around your middle, belly, breast, and arms.
2 Hormones affecting weight in both men and women are cortisol, insulin, thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. When any of these are imbalanced, hormonal disorders ensue causing weight gain and or difficulty losing weight.

Cortisol
Stress — real or imagined — throws the body into panic mode and cortisol is released into the bloodstream. Cortisol raises blood sugar and breaks down fat for energy. This response is lifesaving when faced with life threatening situations. When the immediate stress ends, cortisol rises, leading to craving for fatty, salty, sugary foods to replenish the source of energy that was just depleted. Then cortisol falls to normal levels. Prolonged stress leads to continuously high levels of cortisol which causes continual excess calorie intake. Since these calories aren’t needed immediately, they get deposited as abdominal fat.
3 Chronically elevated cortisol keeps blood sugar elevated which can lead to insulin resistance.

Insulin
Sugar (glucose) stimulates the release of insulin which carries glucose into cells to be used as fuel. When cells have received enough glucose, excess gets stored as fat, especially in the belly and buttocks. Insulin resistance is when the body produces insulin but cells are less sensitive to it. As a result, the pancreas will pump out increasingly more insulin, but the insulin is unable to push glucose into cells. This excess circulating insulin causes sugar cravings, increased appetite, and weight gain.

Thyroid
This hormone regulates the metabolism of every cell in the body. When the thyroid gland is not making enough of this hormone, it’s called hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism causes a slowing of most bodily functions. Sometimes, people have symptoms of low thyroid including fatigue, hair loss, sluggishness, weight gain and or difficulty losing weight. However, their lab tests are normal.
4 This is a source of great stress for individuals who know something is wrong but the cause is not obvious. Thyroid hormone needs to be suspected and tested properly. 

Testosterone, Estrogen, and Progesterone
As men and women age, testosterone levels decrease, leading to a loss of muscle and bone, accumulation of belly fat, and decreased metabolism. The effect is more severe in men because their testosterone levels are much greater to begin with. Ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone in women starting as early as age 35.  When estrogen is not in correct balance with other hormones (primarily progesterone), weight gain can occur. Signs of estrogen excess are weight gain around the abdomen, hips, and thigh, water retention and abdominal bloating. Estrone, the main estrogen in menopause, shifts fat from hips to abdomen. Progesterone helps the body utilize and eliminate fat and increases metabolism. Excess progesterone production relative to estrogen leads to an increased appetite and fat storage. 
5,6

To prevent weight gain from hormonal imbalance:
1. Limit carbohydrate intake
2. Reduce stress 
3. Have hormones levels checked and balanced 
4. Take a probiotic
5. Exercise 45 min., 5 days/week

To learn more about medical weight loss and how it might be able to help your patients control the effect of hormones on weight and metabolism, click here.

References
1. Smith, P., “Why you can't lose weight: why it's so hard to shed pounds and what you can do about it.” Garden City Park, NY: Square One Publishers, 2011
2. Smith, P., “What You Must Know about Women’s Hormones,” Garden City Park, NY: Square One Publishers, 2010
3. Epel, E, et al., “Can stress reshape your body? Consistently grater stress-induced cortisol secretion among women with abdominal fat” Psychosomatic Med 2000; (62):623-632
4. Brownstein, D., “Overcoming Thyroid Disorders.” West Bloomfield, MI: Medical Alternatives Press, 2002
5. Kalkoff, R, et al., “Metabolic Effects of Progesterone “Journal Obstetrics Gynecology, 1982: 142-146
6. Vliet, E., “Women, Weight and Hormones.” New York: M. Evans & Company, 2001

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