Weight Loss and Dieting: Critical Mistakes (Part 8 of 8)

The Enemy is Hunger

This powerful, extremely convincing force will overtake you and all your efforts to lose weight.  Depending on how quickly you’ve changed your eating habits or cut back the calories, you will at some point get desperate and want to STUFF. YOUR. FACE. May I suggest keeping a full fridge and pantry as a rule, and turning your face first to what I call “Free” foods: eat as many as you need to until you can find or make a more comprehensive meal to temporarily satisfy the hunger. Sitck to low calorie, filling or bulky foods containing lots of water or fiber. Include nuts (raw almonds, cashews, roasted peanuts, pistachios), berries, grapes, and any snack-able vegetable (cherry  tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, celery). Low calorie popcorn, low fat yogurt, some dried fruit, hummus, pickles, olives, applesauce, or natural granola bars are other good options. Unless they need to be refrigerated, these should be lying out on the kitchen counter where you can see them, so if hunger strikes, you have options. If you have to eat away from the house, such as having lunch at work, take snack-sized ziplock bags full of these healthy munchies with you. I beg you, do not bring home Oreos, Little Debbie cakes, fruit snacks, Cheezits, Pringles, or Potato Chips from the grocery store, or you WILL snack on them. I say this from personal experience.

For that matter, don’t shop for groceries when you’re extremely hungry, as you will make irrational choices. Be on the continual search for new and healthy recipes that keep your palate interested. Mix it up with different spices, dips, herbs. Remember, this article is focused on the person who is aggressively trying to change their lifestyle to lose weight; it’s understood you will occasionally want to bring home a package of Oreos or a ‘naughty’ snack. Just don’t make it a habit, and it won’t be. Also, chug a bottle of water anytime hunger strikes- it will trick your mind into temporarily thinking you’re full.

You can do this. There is no reason why you can’t. Get started, and don’t give up after a few weeks. I can almost promise you, you will feel better about yourself and about life in general if you can stick to these principles. Find someone else who will mutually encourage you, motivate you, and who is interested in changing their lifestyle, too. From someone who has been on both sides of this struggle, I wish you the very best.

About our Author

BrittanyBrittany Arnett is a graduate of the NOVA Southeastern University Physician Assistant Program in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Brittany completed her undergraduate studies at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, while playing Division I volleyball. Brittany has been part of the North Shore Family Practice team since 2011.

Weight Loss and Dieting: Critical Mistakes (Part 7 of 8)

Drinking Your Calories

Fluid intake is probably the most promising area for you to cut calories, fast. If you think about it, the human race used to ONLY drink water, tea, coffee, or alcohol, with the main staple obviously being water. Well, not anymore. Most people today drink several soft drinks, flavored energy drinks, and/or fruit juices every day, with water being the least commonly chosen item. This in part is due to aggressive advertising and the fast food industry. Not to mention the fact that we have become used to the insane amounts of sugar or artificial sweetener in these drinks. Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely LOVE a coke or a beer on occasion. But I do follow one simple rule that helps me keep the calories in check: “One ‘Fun Drink’ a Day”, but no-calorie water otherwise.

Now, water doesn’t have to be boring. When I was trying to transition from drinking my daily Coke to water, I simply filled in the gap with carbonated alternatives. If you’re missing the carbonation from soft drinks, Perrier carbonated water comes in bottles or cans of regular, lime or grapefruit flavors. Cans of La Croix carbonated water have several natural flavors, my personal favorite being coconut. For a stronger tasting water, there are several ‘water enhancers’ or ‘liquid flavor drops’ that are zero calorie, pocket sized and portable. You simply squirt a little into your bottle of water to add that flavor (though these are usually concentrated artificial sweeteners, I still argue they are a better choice than diet soft drinks. Same goes for carbonated water). This is a great option for at work. I would encourage the selection of diet colas, except for the fact that they have been shown to make people GAIN weight! This seems counter-intuitive, until you check out the list of crazy processed ingredients on the side of the can. It is probably a better choice to select a regular cola/soft drink than a diet one. Other low calorie (basically no-calorie) choices for drinks include fruit infused water (I like watermelon, or sliced cucumber and mint); you just dump some fruit in a pitcher, then ladle or strain it back out after half an hour or more. “Hint” is a water brand that does this for you, and I’m a big fan.

I also like green or black tea and coffee, but you have to be careful about calories from honey, sugar, and cream. Great alternatives to sugar include stevia or truvia sweeteners, and you can always use skim or almond milk instead of cream. Fruit juices (check to make sure the label states “ 100% juice” and not ‘fruit cocktail’ or ‘fruit drink’) are not necessarily a bad choice, especially for kids, but they are very high in natural sugars and calories, so I suggest watering down the juice by half and limiting to one or two servings a day. Overall, It’s better to eat your fruit than to drink it. So, keep your one ‘fun drink’ a day, stick to water otherwise, and watch those pounds come off!

About our Author

BrittanyBrittany Arnett is a graduate of the NOVA Southeastern University Physician Assistant Program in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Brittany completed her undergraduate studies at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, while playing Division I volleyball. Brittany has been part of the North Shore Family Practice team since 2011.

Weight Loss and Dieting: Critical Mistakes (Part 6 of 8)

The 1,000 Calorie Salad: ‘Extras’ Can More Than Double The Calories

Your intentions are good: choose that salad on the menu rather than the burger, pasta bowl, or fried chicken, because salads are healthy, and they help you lose weight, right? But let’s question the content of the average American salad. Which lettuce are you buying? Iceberg lettuce adds almost no nutrition (and is basically water). Romaine isn’t much better. Are you adding cheese and croutons? Add another 200-300 calories.  And the biggest question of all: what kind and how much salad dressing are you applying? If we lived in a magical land where calories were no object, I would be POURING on the Hidden Valley Ranch (as well as dipping ALL of my fresh veggies in it). That stuff tastes amazing. But 2 tablespoons ends up adding 140 calories to your salad, and most people use three times that amount on any given salad! I encourage you to attempt cutting back the amount of dressing drastically, and switching to ‘light’ varieties. Or, even better, switch to olive oil and balsamic or red wine vinegar- super simple, low calorie, and without any preservatives. Otherwise, your intended healthy choice of a salad can end up being as calorically dense as a burger and fries.

So, try to stick with salads that include extras like cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper, carrots, mushrooms, olives, sprouts, cilantro, parsley or other low to no-calorie  vegetables. Pick out some weird and exotic lettuces, like baby spinach, arugula, spring mix, or baby kale; the darker green, the better nutritional content. Small amounts of dried fruit and nuts can also be great additives. A salad can also be an excellent spot to fit in some lean protein; think grilled chicken, salmon, tuna, ham, turkey, etc. The protein will help fill you up, and for longer. The possibilities are endless!

 

About our Author

BrittanyBrittany Arnett is a graduate of the NOVA Southeastern University Physician Assistant Program in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Brittany completed her undergraduate studies at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, while playing Division I volleyball. Brittany has been part of the North Shore Family Practice team since 2011.

Weight Loss and Dieting: Critical Mistakes (Part 5 of 8)

Adhering to Fad Diets for Short Periods of Time, Then Returning to Your Previous Eating Habits (or, “Yo-Yo Dieting”)

I look at the word ‘diet’ as sort of a dirty word. So many diets have come and gone, promising almost instant results and extreme weight loss, and many people get taken in by the ease of mindlessly following a few new rules to achieve their goals. But most of the time (like, 99% of the time), these are so restrictive as to be unhealthy, leaving out important nutrients, and are unable to be followed for a lifetime, let alone a year.  So people become frustrated, abandon the diet, and declare weight loss to be an impossible goal. And many times, as soon as they stop adhering to that fad diet, any weight loss they did achieve is immediately regained.

Instead, I wish people would look at weight loss as a LIFESTYLE CHANGE that involves making better and better choices over time, learning about what is in the food they are putting in their mouths, and adding in exercise to complement their dietary efforts. Again, this is a marathon, not a sprint. It is a process. Does it mean you will have to read labels, take more time in the grocery store, or more time planning meals? Yes. Does it mean you will have to show some restraint, self control and willpower? Yes. But the long term results will have staying power, and after a month, your new eating habits will become just that: a habit, and your new ‘normal’.

 

About our Author

BrittanyBrittany Arnett is a graduate of the NOVA Southeastern University Physician Assistant Program in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Brittany completed her undergraduate studies at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, while playing Division I volleyball. Brittany has been part of the North Shore Family Practice team since 2011.

Weight Loss and Dieting: Critical Mistakes (Part 4 0f 8)

Thinking that starving yourself will result in quick and drastic weight loss.

“You must eat in order to lose weight” is counter-intuitive to most of us. Drastically fewer calories taken in should result in weight loss eventually, right? Well, that is partly true. But if you go about your diet “cold turkey” style and aggressively cut calories on day 1, your body will chemically go into a type of starvation survival mode, and actually HOLD ONTO your fat and extra weight. It can even take the few calories you ARE taking in and convert them to fat (as if to store up and therefore protect the self during this ‘time of perceived famine’). You are sabotaging yourself with your dedication and good intentions. So, how do you adjust your diet accordingly?

Look at weight loss as a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. You MUST get your metabolism going from its slowed state during the long fasting period at night. Getting some nutrients in at breakfast, especially protein is key. I recommend eggs, lean meat, or protein shakes (try fresh fruit and veggies with protein powder in the blender). Research has also proven that smaller, more frequent meals keeps the metabolism revved up during the day.  Remember the phrase “Eat the breakfast of a King, the lunch of a Prince, and the dinner of a Pauper,” meaning, consume most of your calories in the morning in order to break that fast and burn them throughout the most active part of your day, then cut back portion size towards evening time. It can often be what you are eating, not how much you are eating, that is the problem. If you’re going to take in some calories, make sure they’re some quality calories.

 

About our Author

BrittanyBrittany Arnett is a graduate of the NOVA Southeastern University Physician Assistant Program in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Brittany completed her undergraduate studies at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, while playing Division I volleyball. Brittany has been part of the North Shore Family Practice team since 2011.

Weight Loss and Dieting: Critical Mistakes (Part 3 0f 8)

The New Food Plate Kicks the Food Pyramid’s Behind

We all remember the good old food pyramid from high school health class. It told us to eat a ton of grains, and lumped healthy proteins (fish, poultry, nuts, beans) in with the unhealthy proteins (red meat and processed meat). It also overemphasized the importance of dairy products. The US government attempted to amend that faulty nutritional information with the revised 2005 MyPyramid, which included exercise in the display but was very non descriptive. Finally, they came out with MyPlate, which, in my opinion, is the easiest to understand and put into practice. The idea is that half of your plate or any meal should be made up of fruits and veggies, a quarter should include healthy proteins, and the last quarter should include whole grains. And the meal is rounded out with a glass of milk. This addresses regulating portion sizes, too, which many of us struggle with. Harvard School of Public Health came out with a food plate that even tops MyPlate, which I’ve included a picture of here. A glass of water replaces the milk, and space for healthy oils is included.  Use this backbone when prepping your meals, and you can’t go wrong.

foodplate

About our Author

BrittanyBrittany Arnett is a graduate of the NOVA Southeastern University Physician Assistant Program in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Brittany completed her undergraduate studies at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, while playing Division I volleyball. Brittany has been part of the North Shore Family Practice team since 2011.

 

Weight Loss and Dieting: Critical Mistakes (Part 2 of 8)

Exercise is a Bad Word

Why do we groan when we hear the word ‘exercise’? Because we aren’t used to moving our bodies on a regular basis and it takes a little effort, namely, getting up off the couch. Without exercise, losing weight will likely take you three times longer or more. All you have to do is move. Seriously. This is the basic concept. And if you’re going to get on board with attempting weight loss, why not fire on all cylinders? If you’ve decided to try it, the most important thing to remember at this point is to focus on cardio. That means getting your heart rate up for a prolonged period of time. Power walking or running will accomplish this! If you are walking fast enough that you can barely keep up a conversation, you’re doing it correctly. You don’t have to run, but if you’re looking into doing a little running, a great place to start is with a free app like Couch to 5K. You turn it on with your music when you start walking, and a little voice will give the commands “start running” or “start walking” intermittently.

The program will very gradually lengthen the running time and reduce the walking time over a period of weeks, until you are running the equivalent of 3 miles at one go. I recommend at least 30 minutes of cardio at least three times a week as a goal. And if you want to do more after reaching that goal, do it! Other cardio exercises can include hiking, any sport that involves running up and down a field or court, Zumba or aerobic classes, spinning, etc. Find something you can stick with for life. Do you have kids? Walk or run with that stroller, put your kid in a carrier or a wagon, or encourage them to run along with you (depending on their age). And again, once you’ve trudged through a month of forcing yourself to move, it will become second nature. You may even start looking forward to it!

About our Author

BrittanyBrittany Arnett is a graduate of the NOVA Southeastern University Physician Assistant Program in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Brittany completed her undergraduate studies at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, while playing Division I volleyball. Brittany has been part of the North Shore Family Practice team since 2011.

 

Weight Loss and Dieting: Critical Mistakes (Part 1 0f 8)

“You don’t have to be perfect, just consistent.”

As a medical provider who discusses lifestyle choices with her patients on a daily basis, I can honestly say, it’s become a tired and almost obsolete discussion. First off, there never seems to be enough time to get beyond the basics of “eat healthy, exercise, and quit smoking”.  Secondly, when confronted with the truth of being overweight or obese, most patients have gotten comfortable with their diagnosis, and don’t seem that motivated to change, even though it could mean losing years on their lives. Third, there are those who do wish to lose weight, but simply do not want to put the effort into reading labels, cooking meals at home, choosing veggies over more appealing fried foods, packing meals and snacks for the work day, or moving their bodies on a regular basis. They likely have tried to lose weight in the past and failed. And finally, there are those who request weight loss medication to do all the work for them, regardless of the risks associated. With more than 2/3 of America overweight or obese, it seems to be an uphill battle for medical providers from the onset. We must start to dismantle these excuses and roadblocks one at a time, and begin again with a fresh perspective and mindset.
With all of my experience in the office counseling patients, my past athletic history, and current attempts to shed the 20 lbs of extra ‘baby weight’ from the twins I delivered 2 months ago, I thought I might try a common sense approach to explaining the golden truths required to loose it and KEEP it off, and explain why often times, it doesn’t work. But it can work, and it will, IF you embrace the concepts below like a life jacket, and you’re ready to make the change.

  1. Excuses Have Become Your Safety Blanket

The best excuse I’ve ever heard for not exercising or eating right is, “I don’t have time because I work all day, and when I get home, I want to spend time with my kids”. I applaud you for putting your kids high on your priority list, because that’s where they should be. But tell me what favors you’re doing them by increasing your risk of death by 19% each year by being sedentary? You could be increasing your time on this earth with them by between 1.5 to 5 years if you exercised regularly, and up to 20 years to your life by eating intentionally clean and healthy. And what example are you setting for them? Don’t you want your kids to establish a routine where being active is the norm, where eating a majority of vegetables and fruits is standard? How are they going to know unless you show them? I’ve heard it said, “Do as I say, not as I do”. Well, I’m here to tell you, that is a crap motto to live by and a complete cop-out. BE THE EXAMPLE.  Act like being healthy is important to you, and they’ll assume it IS important. Just telling them to make smart choices or shaming them in front of the doctor when they’re called out for being overweight or obese is not enough and will NOT influence them to change.

All other excuses, besides extreme physical or mental disability, are bogus, in my opinion. We medical providers see right through them. And what we’re left with is the simple fact that people don’t care, and don’t want to make an effort. They don’t want to have to work at it. And as providers, we can’t make them care. But we can give them tools to help overcome every other excuse they’ve clung to over the years. And we do understand that some periods of life will be crazier than others, and people will be less or more motivated at certain times. Life happens.  Sometimes, achieving weight loss and a healthy lifestyle simply requires a little reprioritizing of time and efforts. Remember, it usually takes about a month for any forced behavior (a new exercise regimen, planning out meals, making healthy choices at the grocery store, etc.) to become a habit. Once it’s a habit, it becomes easy to stick with. And it may take up to a month to see any changes in your weight. So, don’t give up after 2 weeks of trying. Stick with it! You don’t have to be perfect, just consistent.

About our Author

BrittanyBrittany Arnett is a graduate of the NOVA Southeastern University Physician Assistant Program in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Brittany completed her undergraduate studies at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, while playing Division I volleyball. Brittany has been part of the North Shore Family Practice team since 2011.

What Exactly Is Cholesterol, And How Does It Affect Me?

Cholesterol

One question I am asked often by patients is, “What exactly is cholesterol, and how does it affect me?”

Cholesterol is a molecule that is made by the body naturally and is used in several important processes.  This includes the production of cell walls, hormones, and  Vitamin D, among others.  Our bodies produce it on a daily basis and while it’s very necessary, like so many things, too much is unhealthy.

A good portion of the cholesterol in our bodies is actually made there, however some comes from our diet.  Plants don’t contain a significant amount, however animal products do.  Since we can’t genetically change how much we produce,  a healthy diet low in animal fat is the best step most of us can take in keeping cholesterol levels safe.   However, because some people naturally produce more cholesterol than others, medication is often required to maintain safe levels.   I have even had patients with vegetarian diets who have levels outside the safe zone.

Why medication? We have learned over the years as we advance medically that higher levels of cholesterol are positively correlated with higher risk of heart disease through “clogging” of our arteries, both in the heart and the rest of the body.  High cholesterol is directly linked to heart attacks, peripheral artery disease, hypertension, stroke, atherosclerosis, and even diabetes.  We use several different types of medications which work in different ways, to keep the numbers in a healthy range when required.

What level is the goal? We typically combine 4 levels to determine a patient’s risk, as well as the need for and type of treatment.  Total cholesterol levels are best under 200mg/dl. However, 3 other molecules are important to consider as they are directly involved in the metabolism of cholesterol.

HDL and LDL are actually molecules that transport cholesterol and triglycerides in the body, we use them a marker for treatment.  High Density Lipoproteins (aka HDL) actually has a protective factor in higher numbers, so  we like to see a value over 40 mg/dl.  Low Density Lipoprotein (aka LDL) has a negative effect at higher numbers so we like to see it under 100mg/dl generally.

And last but not least, are triglycerides.  Triglycerides are actually lipids, which is another naturally occurring molecule like cholesterol.  It’s easiest to consider triglycerides as simply fat in your blood stream.  Too much, and arteries begin to become compromised leading to the same diseases as mentioned earlier with cholesterol. We like to see Triglyceride levels under 150mg/dl.

The combination of the numbers is much more important than any individual number, so we generally check these as a group with a lab test known as a “Lipid Profile”.  If levels are good, then it can be checked once a year safely.  If levels aren’t desirable, it is often checked more frequently as changes are made to diet or medication.

I hope that this has helped to explain a bit about what cholesterol is, and why it’s important to keep the levels safe through diet if possible. And if not, through the help of your doctor. There are always many factors to consider when considering treatment.  We would be happy to talk with you in person about this topic, or any other topic regarding your health,  at our Convenient Care Clinic.  Give us a call to schedule a visit!

To learn more about Northshore Healthcare Associates and what we do, click here!

– Jeff Dowis, M.D.

Dr. DoDr.Dowiswis received his medical degree from the University Health Sciences, followed by an internship at the Medical College of Georgia and a residency at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Dowis is a Major in the US Air Force Reserve and serves as the Chief Medical Officer to Mountain Lakes Medical Center. Growing up in Habersham County, Dr. Dowis understands the importance of ensuring quality medical care to our area and maintaining a community hospital.

The Lowdown On Flu And The Flu Vaccine

young female doctor giving vaccine to a patient

As the Summer winds down and we head toward Fall you’re starting to hear and see adverts informing you to get your annual flu shot. For many, this raises a lot of questions so I’ll attempt to provide some quick and easy answers and compelling reasons to get yours. What is the flu? It’s defined by the World Health Organization as a viral infectious disease caused by the influenza virus with typical symptoms including: high fever, runny nose, muscle aches, sore throat, feeling tired, headache and coughing. In some cases it can lead to gastric or “tummy” distress like vomiting or diarrhea.  Apart from the discomfort related to these typical symptoms, there can be severe complications such as pneumonia, sinus infections, asthma, heart failure and even death!  The Flu season runs from early October and can go as late as May the following year.

How do vaccines work? Vaccines cause the body to form antibodies (your immune system) against the virus and these antibodies provide protection against the virus so as to avoid the associated infection. It usually takes about two weeks after the vaccine for the antibodies to form. Getting the vaccine does not guarantee 100% that you won’t get the flu but studies have shown that people who are vaccinated who do end up getting infected, tend to have much milder symptoms.

Can the flu vaccine cause me to get the flu? No, you do not get the flu from the flu vaccine. Mild allergic reactions are sometimes associated but this is few and far between.

Which type of vaccine should I take? Most vaccines provide protection against a variety of strains of the virus. Typically, the vaccine options will be either trivalent or quadrivalent. This means they will help the body form antibodies against both A and B types of the flu virus. Some vaccines take the form of an injection and others the form of a nasal mist. Ask your provider which type is best for you.

Who should get the vaccine? According to the CDC, everyone over the age of 6 months should get the flu vaccine every season. If you have severe allergies, especially to egg, speak with your health care professional as this can be potentially harmful. It must be emphasized that the vaccines are very safe.

What are the benefits of the vaccine? The more people that are vaccinated in a given community, the less likelihood of the virus spreading into epidemic proportions. The vaccine prevents the miserable symptoms of the infection and also the time and productivity lost in the work place and at school. The vaccine also helps prevent vulnerable people with chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes and COPD from getting complications and serious illness. This means fewer expensive hospitalizations,emergency room visits and costly medical bills.

At Northshore we’re committed to providing excellence in affordable, convenient and innovative healthcare. All major insurances will pay for the vaccine (depending on eligibility) or pay $25 our self pay price (all participants receive a free health screening with vaccine). Come in today and get a head start on a journey toward health!

-Tim Gooding

GoodingStaff3Tim Gooding has managed several successful multi-disciplinary clinics in the Atlanta  area as well as his native country, South Africa.  In addition, Tim has over 8 years of teaching experience as an associate professor in the Health Services field at Life University in Marietta, GA and has received national awards for his peer-reviewed research and scholarly activity.