January 2012

Metabolic Medical Magic

Author: David Tobias | Photographer: John Brackett

As long as we’re finally past that season of excess, we may as well act like it. Let’s make good on the New Year’s resolutions for a change. Apologize like we mean it for that extra piece of pecan pie we didn’t need at Thanksgiving and for disappearing that whole box of Godiva chocolates that someone stuffed in a stocking and hung by the fire. (Not a great plan, by the way).

This time, we promise, we’re not just going to do some wacky bum-rush diet that takes a few holiday pounds off and hides them somewhere where we can find them again in a couple of months. This time let’s commit to a real lifestyle change, let our body know we’re serious and while we’re at it, let’s make it healthy.

The best way to do all that is to march on over to the Metabolic Medical Center in Bluffton and discover a program that not only accomplishes all the diet goals on the list, but does it in a way that is way more than doctor-recommended. It’s actually doctor-invented and doctor-administered.

That not only means it’s safe, it also means it comes with a few nice perks—like possibly discovering that there’s a legitimate reason those last few pounds have always refused to fall off, or learning that eating often and properly can be far more effective than a starvation diet or eating everything out of a box.

Dr. Douglas Jones, of Charleston, SC, an endocrinologist specializing in treatment of diabetes, obesity and thyroid disorders, created the metabolic medicine plan in 1996. He designed a program that focused on losing weight quickly and safely using low fat, reduced carbohydrates and moderate proteins. That same formula works, guided now by Dr. John E. Parker onsite and by Dr. Michal Baird in Charleston.

“American women,” Baird said. “We’re an interesting bunch. We think we can do it all. We go-go all day long. We drop off the kids, pick up the kids, work a full day-plus, we maintain a house and home and sometimes we don’t eat for 12-hour stretches at a time. Then we get home and consume the first thing that we see, regardless of what it is, most times because it’s easy to prepare or it doesn’t take much time. And we wonder why we’re not healthy.”

Both Baird and Parker describe their clientele as often entering the program with bad eating and lifestyle habits. Metabolic Medical encourages small but significant changes. The plain fact is that more than 90 percent of those who seek and enter the Metabolic program are women, and the initial visit is used to identify how the program can be customized and tweaked to allow the best chance for success. But first, an assessment.

“I think that anyone who is overweight and plans to use a weight-loss program really ought to ask themselves three questions,” said Dr. Parker. “1) Is the program designed by physicians; 2) is the program presently run by physicians and 3) most importantly, will they actually see a physician when they come to their appointments at the clinic. And the answer to all three of those questions when it comes to Metabolic Medicine is yes.”

Defining overweight is another matter that sometimes is aided by having a physician involved. Overweight, according to Dr. Parker, is a lot of times a perception by the patient. They look in the mirror and ask themselves if they’re overweight. They assess how their clothes fit and, regardless of their weight, they feel either good or not so good about their weight.

“A lot of times patients will ask ‘what is my ideal weight?,’” said Parker. “Now, there are charts and graphs you can look at in magazines and books that will tell you exactly what you’re supposed to weigh, according to height and this sort of thing. Those things are totally unrealistic. So what I tell patients is that when you get to a certain scale weight, if you like the way you look, the way you feel and the way your clothes fit, that’s your perfect weight.”

Getting there—now there’s the challenge. Both doctors agree that a key ingredient in any weight loss program is a commitment to the mental side of things.

I’m here to assist them and give them advice,” said Parker. “And I tell them at the onset that any weight-loss program is 85 percent mental. I can give them a lot of food plans to go buy, and since we’re all physicians, we can prescribe appetite suppressants. I can give them a boxcar of this stuff, but until they’re actually mentally convinced they want to do it, it’s not going to succeed.”

The initial technical consulting session includes a complete medical history and a physical exam, including EKG, body composition analysis, body measurement and a thorough blood profile. That allows the doctors to discover if thyroid function is normal—another element that would affect program success—and also to test for serum insulin levels, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. Once those assessments are complete, a customized program is designed.

“If you tell us you like wine,” said Baird, “we’ll figure a way to fit that into your life. The key is to make sure that those who commit to a program stay on it—accountability, that’s critical.”

To assure accountability, most programs are designed for every other week reviews and visits to the Metabolic Medical physicians. In the case of women on the go, that’s just as much checking to make sure they’re eating a healthy breakfast and proteins often enough throughout the day to sustain them as it is to check their actual weight loss or gain. On-the-go meals can still be a part of that, according to Baird.

“I love to cook, and I’m pretty good in the kitchen,” she said. “But even I have to allow that sometimes nukin’ is cookin’. There’s a lot of stuff you can do in five minutes. You can even scramble an egg in the microwave. I just want you happy, feeling good and working this program into your life.”

For more information, visit www.goingmetabolic.com or call Dr. Parker at 843.706.0814.

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