Medical weight management can mean many different things. For some, it’s a last effort to lose weight without surgery. For some, it’s a little extra support on their journey. For others, it means managing other health conditions that are causing or worsened by increased weight. Regardless of the reasons, the basic goal remains the same – achieve the healthiest lifestyle and weight possible in order to improve quality of life.
The philosophy behind weight treatment has shifted over the years as our understanding of what causes obesity has gotten better. For some people, simply moving more and eating less isn’t enough – once weight is on, the body can defend it by slowing metabolism, increasing hunger and fatigue, etc. This isn’t to say that exercise and healthy eating aren’t’ important, they are. Healthy eating and regular activity are always the cornerstones of any healthy lifestyle, no matter what your weight. However, a lot of people need a little extra help…
So how does medical weight management work?
For us, it always starts with assessment – investigating what can be tuned up to get us on track. This includes talking about lifestyle, what you’ve tried in the past, family history, and usually some blood work. We look for vitamin deficiencies, abnormal hormone levels, blood sugar abnormalities, and maybe other issues depending on your medical history. Then we make small, manageable changes over time – increasing vitamin supplements, working with a registered dietician to tune up the diet, etc., depending on your needs.
The next step often involves medication. There are several medicines out there that help with weight if someone is following a healthful overall lifestyle. Some work more on suppressing appetite, some work more on helping trick the metabolism. Options depend greatly on a person’s medical history, your individual challenges, and in many cases, insurance coverage.
Medical weight loss is a game of small changes over a long time until we get some momentum. I am often very happy with patients losing half a pound a week over months. Some do lose faster, but the goal isn’t to achieve a certain pants size by next month, it’s to improve health over decades, so I always counsel my patients to have patience and persistence.
Weight loss is always a journey. What that journey looks like is different for everyone, but the destination is worth the effort.