I officially launched my weight loss odyssey today with an appointment at Lahey Clinic’s Medical and Surgical Weight Loss Center. What follows is a detailed account of my visit. It’s lengthy, but summarizes all of the key points (I can remember).
I arrived for my appointment with Dr. Theresa Piotrowski with some time to spare. I figured I’d need to hunt around for the new department, but it was easy to find (use the East Wing Entrance – left of the main entrance).
A pleasant woman checked me in quickly and asked me to take a seat in the waiting room (“big butt” chairs. HOORAY!) I barely sat down before a nurse (RN? LPN? Some agreeable gal in scrubs?) called my name and led me into an exam room. She took my blood pressure (129/73 – no worries expressed) and led me directly into the doctor’s office.
Dr. Piotrowski introduced herself. We discussed my basic health and weight history (what I weighed and when). She asked if there were any major weight losses and re-gains (has she been reading my journal???) and confirmed my current meds (low dose blood pressure, mild hypothyroidism).
After providing a brief health bio, I returned to the waiting room. Dr. Piotrowski followed me in, introduced herself in more detail (credentials, experience, etc), and provided a brief overview of how the program works to her audience of me and one other woman.
- BLOOD TESTS: I need to be tested for various and sundry ailments, including diabetes and even pre-diabetes. After fasting for 12 hrs, I visit Lahey’s lab for a 3-hour tour (a 3 hr tour…the weather started getting rough, but the tiny ship was tough! Sorry…got lost there for a moment). Back on-topic – For the blood sugar test (diabetes), blood is drawn several times over a 3-hour period. I must bring a book to entertain my hungry self.
- COMPREHENSIVE PHYSICAL EXAM: After the blood tests, Dr. Piotrowski will conduct an extended exam (approx 30 mins). We’ll discuss my specific goals, analyze my body composition, and review the results of the blood test. She also mentioned calculating a BMR to determine how many calories I need to consume to lose and/or maintain weight. The BMR calculation must be an iterative activity, because variables change as you lose weight.
- AFTER THE EXAM: Patients eligible for the program will be categorized as obese, super obese, or with a metabolic syndrome (I think that’s right). I’m confident I’m a shoe-in for the super-obese category. (Hey! I heard that gasp all the way over here!)
IF ELIGIBLE, THEN:
- CONFIRM INSURANCE COVERAGE: I need to call BCBS to ensure they cover the program’s cost. I assume they do, because it treats a real medical diagnosis (obesity) and dangerous health risks lay ahead of me. Seems to me that preventive care is worth the investment, but no one ever accuses insurance companies of being overly logical. Greedy, yes. Logical, nope. I’ve had a good experience with BCBS thus far. We shall see which way the coin toss goes on this one.
- BIWEEKLY APPOINTMENTS: Every 2 weeks, I meet with various members of the medical weight loss team, including Dr. Piotrowski, a dietician, and a behavioral/cognitive therapist (mentioned a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Shrink-lite?). The doc is in Burlington every Tuesday, Thursday and every other Friday.
I assume the appointments continue until I hit the maintenance phase oh-so-many-years-from-now. Oh yeah…there is also a support group that meets on Tuesdays if I want/need additional support. Wish the additional support could come in the form of a personal chef, but oh well…
HIGHLIGHTS OF DR. PIOTROWSKI’S MEDICAL WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM REVIEW:
- Dr. Piotrowski is one of only two Bariatric Board certified docs in MA. This surprised me. With obesity in the news all the time, you’d think there would be more docs focusing on non-surgical weight loss solutions. So much for preparing for the “epidemic” everyone’s predicting. Let the fatties eat cake, I guess.
- We focus on proteins, carbs and fats. Our bodies need all three, but protein is the most critical “fuel”. The Protein to Carb ratio for each person is different, but I’ll only eat as many carbs and as much fat as my body can handle (far less than I’d like, I predict).
- Expected weight loss is 2 – 2 1/2 pounds per week or 5 pounds every two weeks max. We want to lose fat, not muscle. So, for every 5 pounds lost, we target losing at least 4 pounds of fat and up to 1 pound of muscle max.
- Learn to love your food log. I must log everything I eat and then it will be analyzed to ensure I’m eating the right amount of protein, carbs, and fat. The logs will also identify habits and behaviors. No food is off limits. Deprivation is not the goal. Eating smart is the goal. I need to moderate my intake and avoid consistently excessive excess. Well, you know what I mean.
- Weight loss is not the most difficult phase. Weight loss maintenance is. Bad habits can easily creep back into your life.
“Danger, Will Robinson! She fell off the wagon and is devouring the Big Rock Candy Mountain at the speed of light!”
I need to be ever vigilant and forever diligent!
MEET MY NEW PERSONAL MANTRA Repeat after me – This is NOT a diet. It is a lifestyle change! Once more, with feeling.
THIS IS NOT A DIET. IT IS A LIFESTYLE CHANGE!!
And thus marks the end of the first day of my new beginning!