Posted in Blog Posts

Conference Takeaways: What We Do and Why We Do It

Photo from the hotel window

It was cool and overcast at this year’s conference for clinicians specializing in the treatment of obesity.

But even without sun, the Obesity Medicine Association’s recent gathering in San Diego was just what the doctor ordered.

On April 4th and 5th Brad Butterfield and I attended the OMA conference. And in some ways, it was good to have, meh, weather. There were no distractions from our purpose: to reignite our passions and get excited about the important work we do!

After all, it has been months since we have seen our patients. And it can be easy to lose sight of our mission when our focus – for weeks – has been leases, contracts, phones, websites, internet and, well, starting a business.

So it was a salve for the soul to be surrounded by the same ilk of medical professionals that takes obesity medicine very seriously.

Some major takeaways for us were:

Focusing on the causes of obesity. We know it is NOT a self-inflicted disorder. There are too many factors, many of which are out of one’s control, to have an individual take full responsibility for this disease. Classifying it as a disease means there are treatments.

Our team has many years of collective experience. We have spent countless hours with patients, helping them come up with solutions to the problems they encounter during the process of losing weight. We see success as a series of incremental victories – every day!

I personally consider myself a reservoir of sorts, collecting patients’ struggles and also as an assistant, someone who helps people find solutions to their struggles.

Time and time again, I have conversations with people about the medications used in weight loss. There is still a stigma that surrounds this area of treatment. There is no other disease of the magnitude of obesity (a pandemic) that does not have an established set of protocol that includes medication. We need to advocate to the public, other providers and our patients that there are safe and effective medications.

The following pair of statements made at the conference really struck me:

  • If people believe they can change, then they can. We believe our patients can change. We know they can change.
  • Eating and exercise are behaviors. Think about that. Really let it sink in. We need to change our behaviors.

Change is not a particularly simple or easy task. These statements reaffirmed what we have known all along. Behavior change has to be at the core of successful weight loss. It cannot be “doing a diet” until a goal is reached, then going back to eating “normally.” What is normal anyway? Eating a lot of quick and easy processed food with no thought or intention or focus on nutritional value? That’s not going to work, ever, in the long run.

So hooray for the OMA! They have done it again! We are fired up and so close to opening our new clinic. Stay tuned for more information on that front – and expect an email to be coming your way shortly. 

Thanks for reading, 

Brandy W.

Posted in Blog Posts, Featured

Don’t go for the dope.

Why you should skip the chips and go for a walk instead

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Dr. Robert Lustig, a whole foods advocate, put together the below graphic to show why your occasional (seemingly harmless) junk-food fix is really so addictive.

That little piece of cake? Well, it basically plays out like crack on the brain. Junk food sparks neurotransmitters, which influence our mood and behavior. And processed foods are designed to give us pleasure and fuel the reward system, which makes them highly addictive. And highly palatable! These foods trigger Dopamine. No wonder it is so hard to resist the sweet stuff.

In real life, this is how Dopamine plays out.

Try eating one M&M, or chip or cracker. (Goldfish crackers – they might as well have crack in them!) It feels impossible to not want more after having just one. Even if you weren’t particularly craving that food when you ate the first one – now, we’ll, you are all about it.

On second thought, suggesting that you eat junk is terrible advice! That is exactly what these pseudo food conglomerates want you to do: Just try it. You’ll be hooked. So don’t try it! Just take my word for it – you’ll want more right away.

Instead, change your “diet” by cutting out these processed foods. This will help you lose weight. Why? It decreases the voice of the drug addict in your head saying: “Just try a bite” or “One won’t hurt you.”

You know you can’t have just one chip. They have teams of scientists making sure this fake food is irresistible to your brain. And the really bad part is that once you realize you can’t have just one chip – that is what upsets people. They start grieving the loss of these so-called “foods” and, well, that’s why we need to address the behavioral aspect of this process.

Here’s us how Lustig spells it out:

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In short, we need something to help us feel better.

Enter Exercise.

Most people will get a burst of serotonin from moving their body, dancing, walking, yoga, running. You get the idea.

That is why being active is so important when trying to manage body weight. Moving our bodies makes us feel good – and then we rely less on Dopamine for our “happiness.”

By the way, this doesn’t have to mean killing yourself on the elliptical or lifting weights. But it does have to include doing something that you enjoy and moves the body. Most people that I have worked with who lost a significant amount of weight – and have kept it off – have done it though walking. Imagine that. Walking. So simple and free.

Yes this does mean “Diet and Exercise.” But it does not have to mean a severe caloric restriction, and cutting out all foods that actually taste good (hint that’s the fat). After all, being hungry is never going to work long term. A diet that fuels muscles and allows access to stored energy is what works. By now you know that I am biased toward a high fat/low-carb diet because it works better to control hunger and appetite. Like I said before, low fat diets can work. But they don’t when they cause more hunger and include a lot of fake a** food.

Brandy Wiltermuth