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.


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?


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.