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House calls are meant for patients who are temporarily or permanently home bound, or for other good reasons can't make it into the office.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Avoid those extra winter pounds

Winter is approaching, and the natural tendency for many of us was to stay indoors. For many of us, lack of activity and overeating follows, and the result is those frustrating extra winter pounds.

Weight gain is not only a medical issue. Sure, there is an increase chance of diabetes, high blood pressure, accelerated heart disease, joint pain, and many other medical conditions. But also important are the social, financial and psychological aspects of overweight. Thin and fit is still the general desire of most people. Some of us would become depressed over gaining weight and the inability to lose it, and others would feel that they lost a promotion opportunity because of it. Very few of us would enjoy buying a new, larger wardrobe, or the inability to fit into our summer vacation clothing.

So what are you going to do about it?

Losing weight is a full time job; you have to be aware of your goal at all times. Some of us can do it without much help. Decrease food portions, decrease fat intake, increase exercise --- the usual steps --- works. For others, professional help is a must.
Professional weight loss focuses on the entire person and his/her needs, and includes:

Establishing realistic goals. The ultimate goal of weight loss has to be a target weight that can be both achieved and maintained. This target weight may not be immediately identifiable, but becomes apparent as you work with your health care provider.

Portion control. Both the portion size and content of the food you consume need to be controlled and monitored. Accurate record keeping, while tedious, is extremely important. Your ability to keep records is a good indicator of how successful you'll be in controlling your weight.

Increase in exercise. Exercise helps burn excess calories, but don't count on exercise alone to reach your target weight. Cardiovascular exercise is best, but stretching and muscle strengthening are very important. Exercise at least four days a week, don't be a weekend hero. Special testing before taking on a rigorous exercise program is advisable, talk to your doctor.

Use of appetite suppressants when appropriate. The days of fen-phen long gone, but other medications are available. Stay away from over-the-counter preparations and "miracle drugs," they can be harmful, and, at best, you'll waste your money.

Use of meal replacement. Low calorie meal replacements have been available in super markets for several years. Others, of much higher quality, are available through some physician offices, including ours (e.g., HMR products). These products help in portion control and record keeping, and may keep you from binging.

Treatment of depression. Depression is frequently a cause of weight gain, and if it exists, it must be addressed.
What about weight loss spas? Many of them are very good, effective while you're there. But when you're back at home, you may still need to consult your health care professional.

When addressed correctly, overweight is manageable. And when you need professional assistance, go with those who will focus on your overall medical needs, not just weight loss. We're here to help!

Twitter / Dr. Staw