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.

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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.

Back to School

Heading back to school can be both exciting and overwhelming.  As a parent there are many ways to provide support as your child begins a new school year.  Let’s take a look at a few:

  • To reduce stress establish a routine early and ensure that routine includes sufficient sleep time. Some children and teens need as much as 9 hours or more of sleep each night. This is important to recharge their “battery” for the challenges of the next day.
  • Establish age-appropriate rules that are easy to understand and consequences that are consistent. Introducing these rules before school starts allows time for adjustment.  Remember consistency is the key.
  • Take time to talk with your child each day using open-ended questions such as: “How was your day?”, “What did you enjoy most about today?”, “What was stressful for you?”. It’s important to share about your day, as well, and create healthy open-dialogue that sets the stage for more difficult issues.
  • School can be a lonely place without support from friends. Encourage your child to reconnect with friends prior to the first day of school and discuss ways to make new friends.  We all benefit from a strong support system.
  • Being anxious as school begins is a normal reaction, but if your child continues to experience anxiety and/or depression seek help with a mental health professional in your community.
  • Involvement with the teachers and staff at your child’s school is essential in understanding your child’s progress both academically and behaviorally. Everyone working together for the benefit of the child can ensure a successful school year.
  • Be proactive in protecting your child from being bullied. Bullying includes name-calling, kicking, pushing, spreading rumors, teasing, destroying belongings, and cyber-bulling.  Often these behaviors are dismissed as normal childhood behaviors and are not addressed until they have escalated.  If you suspect your child is being bullied contact your school administration immediately.

Remember that your child’s emotional health is as important as their physical health.  Being involved in healthy practices now, prepares them for a healthy and happy future.

– Jeannie Chapman, M.A., M.Ed.

Jeannie

Jeannie is the Director of Pastoral Care & Community Outreach for MLMC, holds graduate degrees in Pastoral Counseling and Education and previously worked as an educator for 12 years.

Hello! We are Northshore Healthcare Associates!

We are excited to start blogging but first, we want to take a minute and tell you a little bit about what we do and believe!

MISSION

North Shore is dedicated to improving the health of our community by providing exceptional healthcare, innovative medical technology, convenient quality services, and affordable treatment cost.

VISION

The vision of North Shore is to be North Georgia’s first choice for healthcare.

VALUES

  • Innovation:

    We are working to define a new standard of patient-centered care through evidence-based medicine and technological advancements.

  • Safety:

    We maintain a safe environment in our clinics for the patients, staff and visitors.

  • Quality:

    We strive to provide the best for every patient including outstanding care and customer service.

  • Community:

    We continually improve the health of our home town and the region through excellent patient-centered care and education of patients, staff and community.

  • Affordability:

    We value our patients and strive to keep cost affordable to all.

So that is us, Northshore Healthcare Associates!  If you would like to learn more, click here!  Otherwise, we are excited to get our first official blog post done, so stay tuned!