I wish I could swoop in like Superman and save people from opportunistic, profit-driven, misinformation-spewing diet companies.
I know - you thought I was one of them. I’ll let you in on a little marketing secret: I chose the name “Ft. Collins Weight Loss & Nutrition” because that’s what people are Googling.
Allow me to tell you what my competition has to offer, why it’s wrong and how I’m different.
1. Calorie Restriction, Meal Replacements and Diets
If weight loss were as simple as calories-in versus calories-out I’d be out of a job. A mounting body of research is proving that quality of foods is more important that quantity of calories. 100 calories of cookies affects your body differently than does 100 calories of avocado. Processed foods change your hormones and make you gain weight whereas unprocessed foods have the power to burn fat and heal your body.
Restricting calories puts your body and mind into a tailspin of confusion, slows your metabolism and ramps up cravings. This is the core problem leading to yo-yo dieting.
I do not believe in calorie restriction. My mantra is “eat to lose.” My clients can hardly believe how quickly they shed fat without feeling deprived - while eating a normal calorie level for their body type and eating up to 50% of their calories from good fats.
Meal replacements: There is a time and a place for protein-rich shakes and bars but not as meal replacements. I occasionally suggest food-based protein powder medical foods for athletes, people dealing with chronic illnesses, vegans trying to boost protein and busy people who refuse to eat breakfast. This is a temporary solution. Ultimately, I want my clients to eat real food.
Many popular meal replacements are pure sugar that will make you fat. Others have fake sugars and toxins. Buyers beware!
2. Fancy Machines/Technology
I used to have a bioelectrical impedance analysis machine (BIA) that analyzed fat mass, muscle mass, hydration status and more. As a data nerd, I loved that machine! I soon realized that my patients had a hard enough relationship with the scale before I introduced them to their body fat percentage. It was one more number to obsess about, one more number to make they feel like a failure. So BIA and I parted ways.
Some local “medical weight loss” clinics even use high tech medical devices such as MRIs, dual-energy X-Rays, EKGs and ECGs. May I let you in on another industry secret? Medical devices means the doctor can bill insurance for these tests. This is another source of income for the doctors. Is there a time and a place for these? Absolutely! For weight loss? No! Ultimately, this testing is wasteful.
I believe there are safer, simpler, less invasive ways of measuring your starting point and your success. Instead of making you feel like a medical case, I use a scale, a tape measure and teach you how to listen to your intuitive sense of how healthy you feel.
3. Bariatric Surgery
I worked in bariatric surgery during my internship. What I saw changed me and now I am 100% against it (yes, even with the new gastric sleeve vs. bypass). Insurance regulations in the state in which I practiced required three things before they paid for this surgery:
(1) Patients were required to go through 6 months of medical weight loss to prove that they couldn’t lose weight on their own before they were eligible for surgery. Strangely enough, they were supposed to “try” weight loss under their surgeon’s care. The only way to get the surgery was to sabotage their diet attempts. Is it just me or does this scream conflict of interest??
(2) Patients had to go through psychological evaluations to prove they could sustain change. This was another hoop to jump through to get surgery. I saw mentally retarded patients, patients with eating disorders and clinical-level body image issues approved for the surgery.
And you know what? Generally, these people had the same psychological struggles and more coming out of surgery. The “success stories” still had body image issues. Their bodies were “fixed” (mutilated, in my opinion) but their minds were the same. After surgery they had extra skin from the weight loss and still saw themselves as fat. They had to deal with socially awkward issues such as only eating 2 tablespoons of food at a time, vomiting and diarrhea if they overate -- no meeting friends for chips and margaritas.
The “not-so-successful” people still had body image issues. I saw more people than I would like to admit die from the surgery, or end up back in the hospital with complications from hair loss to dumping syndrome (diarrhea after eating) to full-blown malnutrition requiring TPN (being fed through their veins). I saw people learn how to cheat the surgery and gain back all the weight and more.
Not everyone who needs bariatric has an eating addiction, but some do. There is interesting research that if you take away one addiction, such as an eating addiction, and "fix" it with surgery, the patient transfers the addiction to something else, such as shopping or drinking alcohol. Food can be nurturing and can help us cope with emotions, but I challenge my patients to deal with their emotions through psychotherapy, Al-Anon, Guide for Living, etc.
(3) Patients had to have a BMI (body mass index) over 40 as well as a co-morbidity (which is another health problem related to obesity).
Is obesity and it’s related health problems to ignore? No! We all know that if you lose weight, you can reverse diabetes, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, get off meds...this is the number one reason I do what I do – nutrition can heal people.
Weigh these benefits with the cost and risk of bariatric complications including but not limited to:
- dumping syndrome (surprise diarrhea)
- food intolerance
- stomach rupture
- malnutrition (protein and/or macro/micronutrient)
- hair loss
- spontaneous abortion
- fecal and urinary incontinence
- TPN and J-Tube dependence
- gaining back all the weight and the coresponding health problems
"But Al Roker did it," you might argue. Yes, and he pooped himself at the White House. Read his writings and realize that he has and continues to deal with feelings of shame and failure. Aren’t there less traumatic weight loss methods?
The bottom line is that bariatric surgery is not a quick-fix. It creates more issues than it fixes.
Diet meds, be they prescription, over-the-counter or “natural” compounds generally work as appetite suppressants, stimulants, diuretics or by causing macronutrient (i.e. fat) malabsorption.
Appetite suppressants work as long as you stop eating when not hungry and take them indefinitely. Do I need to tell you that your liver does not appreciate drugs? Did you realize that you were born with an innate ability to regulate calories? Why not learn to listen to your body instead of letting a drug override this instinct?
Stimulants have side effects. Ephedra killed many people and was taken off the market. Now the weight loss industry uses caffeine. I don’t know about you but I get plenty of caffeine. Aren’t we stimulated enough? Overstimulation skyrockets cortisol, a stress hormone that makes your store more fat.
Diuretics make you lose water weight. I’d rather you lose fat weight.
Fat malabsorption is so 1950s. Let’s once and for all agree that fats aren’t the enemy. There are good fats (essential for life) and there are not-so-good fats (man-made synthetic fats). Fats have concentrated calories but pooping them out unabsorbed doesn’t change your behaviors and can literally ruin your pants.
5. “Medical Weight Loss”
Aw, man, the industry is going to hate me! I’m going to tell you another one of their secrets: medical weight loss simply means that there is a prescribing practitioner overseeing the weight loss center. The practitioner does not have to work there - s/he can even live and practice miles away. When you think you sign up to have a physician work with you in a holistic manner, more likely you are having a physician order drugs for you at a distance, while they make money and you feel unsupported.
A “medical weight loss center” generally has a nutritionist who sells their own supplements and medical assistants who do the work of the doctor. You never see the doc.
I believe that doctors are essential in health care. There can be underlying medical issues such as hormone imbalances that keep you from losing weight. When I see patients I continually screen for these issues, refer to holistic physicians and work closely with your physician. Beware of “medical weight loss."
True confessions: I used to run an hCG program for a local doctor. I even tried it myself 3 times. I wanted it to work! It worked for a number of people and I was convinced. Until I realized that it was the 500 calorie diet that was causing them to lose weight, not the hormone. Logically, if hGC causes fat burn, why is the 500 calorie diet necessary? How easily we are duped by the diet industry!
Mostly people on hCG were terribly hungry, lost muscle, gained fat and developed a messed-up relationship with food then gained all the weight back.
The FDA has never recognized or approved hormonal hCG as a weight loss mechanism and now they have found that the homeopathic version is a sugar-water placebo. It is illegal for a label to claim to have hCG in it unless it is the real hormone prescribed by a physician. Even if the over-the-counter homeopathic versions had the hormone in it (also illegal to buy without a prescription) the hormone would be destroyed by your stomach acids rendering it useless.
Taking homeopathic hCG + a 500 calorie diet is starving yourself and there will be psychological and metabolic repercussions so beware. Instead of starving yourself, learn to feed yourself healthy foods that taste good and make you feel good. The diet industry has messed up our heads! Let's reclaim a healthy relationship with food and with our bodies.
So what is the answer? You are. Call me and I will empower you, guide you past weight loss myths and barriers. I will be your support and cheerleader as you take charge of your eating...naturally.
Ft. Collins Weight Loss does not push pills and does not believe in meal replacements. A healthy diet is the first and best way to get needed nutrients. That being said, we recognize that there is a time and a place for supplements such as in the following cases:
1. You are already spending the money on supplements.
Our average patient spends $100 per month on synthetic, junk supplements from the grocery store. Ft Collins Weight Loss & Nutrition teaches you how to streamline your purchases and buy higher quality supplements for the same price or less. We suggest the bare minimum (usually a multivitamin/mineral and fish oil) and are honest about where to find the highest quality at the best price. Often we send our patients to Vitamin Cottage or Sprouts but we prefer food-based Standard Process or Nature's Sunshine.
2. Your diet is less than optimal.
Many of our patient's diets are low in necessary nutrients and they need a boost to catch up.
3. Even if your diet is optimal, our soil is depleted of nutrients and you aren't getting as many nutrients as you think.
We like to think of supplements as insurance. Just in case we aren't getting enough from foods, we are getting an extra boost from supplements.
4. You have a medical condition that you would like to treat or reverse naturally.
5. You are working hard go lose weight and want a little extra help or a "boost."
There are a few supplements that have been clinically proven to help speed up your weight loss (but which are not replacements for nutrition and exercise).
6. You have blood work proving medical need.
In this case Ft Collins Weight Loss suggests a dose and works closely with your primary care physician to monitor blood work and stop supplements when they are no longer needed.
Remember that supplements are never replacements for a healthy diet. If you eat McDonald's every day but spend hundreds of dollars on supplements you will still be sick. You are what you eat!