With the holidays here many county residents are filling up on sweets and large meals. Likewise, around the first of the year there may be a little bulge around the waistline.
But there are options available that have proven successful in taking off those extra pounds.
Whether one wants to lose weight the natural way or may need a little pharmaceutical assistance, a person can take off those extra pounds.
Dr. Nelson Gardner, M.D., who took over operation of the ProHealth Center in Mount Airy about three years ago, noted recently that about 3,200 clients have lost more than 100,000 pounds in the time he’s been operating the center.
He credits the weight loss to lifestyle changes, medical assistance and education.
“We developed a weight loss program based on recommendations for weight reduction services,” Gardner said as clients worked up a sweat in the center’s weight room. “To help patients lose weight we use a comprehensive program including medications, diet and lifestyle changes to lead our clients to weight loss.”
The medications are used during an induction period to help the obese or morbidly obese set goals and reach those goals.
A normal body weight includes between 18 and 24 percent body fat. A person is classified as overweight if that climbs to between 25 and 30 percent body fat. Obese is defined as having a body fat index of between 30 and 40 percent, and a person is considered morbidly obese if their body fat percentage is over 40 percent.
But that doesn’t mean clients can keep on eating and count on medication to shed the pounds.
“After they reach their goal weight, we stop all medications and continue working with them on diet and lifestyle changes. The hope is they will learn while losing weight how to maintain that weight loss,” Gardner said.
Gardner said his program has yielded results that compare with other weight loss plans, and even surgical interventions.
“I think if you compare us to other methods, we have data that indicates results as good as other programs that are much more invasive like surgical procedures,” he said, “and we’re more successful than programs that rely solely on diet and health modifications.”
The vast majority of clients lose around 30 pounds at ProHealth, Gardner added.
And being overweight is about more than just looking good in a summer swimsuit.
“I’ve seen multiple people stop having to take blood pressure medicine, stop using insulin injections, and everyone just feels better when they lose 30 pounds,” Gardner said. “They’re not only preventing illnesses, but are improving their quality of life and their longevity.”
The ProHealth owner said he even files insurance to help clients pay for the service.
But what if you don’t want to use medications?
“People can lose weight on their own, but it often helps to have a support and education network,” said Bradley Key, health and wellness coordinator for Reeves Community Center.
Key oversees four three-month weight loss sessions a year that is patterned after the hit television series The Biggest Loser.
“We actually call it Biggest Loser/Losing for Life, because we’re trying to instill and promote lifelong healthy habits that are sustainable for the long-term,” he said.
Key said the Community Center has been using the program since 2006, and has seen successes every year.
And with New Year’s Resolutions in play, every year the session that starts in January is the biggest.
“We have about 100 participants in that,” he said. “The summer time we’re doing a corporate challenge where local businesses sponsor their own teams to compete against other teams.”
Key said the competition coupled with the sense of teamwork often means more pounds shed.
And the program has proven successful, he noted.
“This year we had over 200 people participating, with some of those being return participants who use it as a maintenance program,” Key said.
And if you’re carrying around the burden of excess body fat, Key wants you to give it a try.
“We want people who need to lose weight to sign up,” he said. “This is the program for them because we focus on two components, diet modification and exercise. People who participate get both exercise and nutritional support from a nutrition professional.”
The goal, Key said, is to teach lifestyle changes and health habits to instill a long-term healthy lifestyle.
“I think that’s how it works. You’re not going to lose as much weight as fast as you could with extreme diets or other extreme measures, but by modifying your behavior and how you look at food, you can succeed. This program is about giving folks the tools to make those lifestyle changes.”
It seems to be working, too.
Key reports that since the Biggest Loser program was implemented in 2006, clients have lost more than 17,000 pounds.
“This year alone we tallied 1,500 pounds,” he said proudly.
The Biggest Loser program is free to members of Reeves Community Center.
A similar program is in the planning stages at Pilot Mountain’s Armfield Civic Center.
Scott Cato, director of the center, said it closely mimics The Biggest Loser, in that it focuses on teaching healthy lifestyle habits. The program will get started in early 2013.
“We’re calling it Mission Slimpossible,” he said with a laugh.
Cato said the program will emulate the television show in that participants will break off into teams to compete with one another to see who can lost the most weight.
“We’re going to be using a very structured exercise program and combine that with education and diet modification,” he said, noting that without changing poor lifestyle habits the weight is likely to return.
“If you just focus on losing weight by not eating or through a diet, you’re probably going to just put the weight right back on,” he said. “You need education that you can use to continue the healthy lifestyle habits after the program ends so you can undergo a lifestyle change and maintain it.”
Last year the Armfield Center used a similar program for the first time, with about 60 participants losing about 400 pounds.
“We had one participant lose 80 pounds last year,” Cato said.
And as an added benefit, Cato noted that a professional chef will work with the weight loss participants to teach them how to cook healthy meals they actually enjoy eating.
“We used him last year and the participants in the class really loved it,” Cato said.
For more information or to determine the method that’s right for you, call ProHealth at 336-719-6006 or Reeves Community Center at 336-786-8313. More information about Mission Slimpossible at the Armfield Center will be posted at www.armfieldcenter.com.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.