Followers of my site may have been wondering what the seven deadly sins have to do with wellbeing, or why I’ve become so interested in the concept of desire. So here it is….. J Over the past month I am excited to share that I have launched a weight management program with a select group of 14 patients that I have known very well over the past 3-6 years. In the last thirty days these patients have in sum lost a total of over 150 pounds! On average, patients are losing 3.2 pounds per week, which means that my program is taking 45 pounds off this group every week!
After treating the medical complications of obesity for the past 15 years, I know that weight management is one of the most critical healthcare issues facing our country today. My study of the obesity epidemic has made me aware of many frightening statistics, a few of which I’ll share with you here. In 1985 8 states had an obesity rate equaling 10-14% of the population and all other states had less than 10% of their population obese. In 2010, no state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. Thirty-six states had a prevalence of 25% or more; 12 of these states (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia) had a prevalence of 30% or more. Even more discouraging, obesity is no longer a problem for only adults. In 2010, 17% of American children and adolescents were obese.
Another scary fact that was reported in January 2011 was that 8.3% of the US population is obese AND already has Type II (what we used to consider adult-onset) diabetes. This form of diabetes is a direct result of obesity in genetically susceptible individuals. In 1994 there was not a single state with a diabetes incidence of more than 6% of the population. In January 2011, 8.3% of the population has diabetes, which equates to 25.8 million Americans. If the obesity epidemic is not contained, it is projected that 37.7 million Americans will have diabetes in 2031! People who are obese spend almost $1500 more per year than an individual with normal weight. Obesity costs our country 147 BILLION dollars per year, and this number is rising. With the current focus on containing healthcare costs, obesity is a problem we can’t afford to ignore.
So what do we do about it? I’m very encouraged by the movement in this country to “leave no child inside” and to do away with addictive substances in our foods like high-fructose corn syrup. That being said, millions of adults have already become victims of their genetics, environment, and ingrained eating habits. As an internist who cares for only adults, I’ve been searching for the formula to help the hundreds of patients I know and love to find the strength and tools to get back to a healthier weight and maintain it. I am excited to announce that I am now offering a variety of programs which include medically formulated dietary products to promote rapid weight loss without hunger. I am also offering nutritional counseling, individualized exercise plans, medical monitoring for patients coming off of their medications, and most importantly, behavioral counseling.
I am fascinated by the process of personal change. We can all identify people who seem to be living their lives “just right” as well as those that never seem to be making their goals a reality. Are the people experiencing success “just lucky” or is there some formula that everyone can employ which would enable each one of us to get what we want out of life? Obviously there is no simple answer, but I do strongly believe that there are certain characteristics that the “winners” in life share, and over the course of time I’d like to explore a few of these. Today I want to talk about courage.
Every day I get to witness the bravery of my patients. The way I’ve seen so many people courageously battle a wide variety of scourges from cancer to depression inspires me to never give up and to always keep pushing towards the hope of something better. Most recently I’ve stood in awe of my weight management group. I am incredibly impressed by the bravery of these people who for the umpteenth time in their lives are willing to make another weight loss attempt. I see too many physicians say that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and that my older patients, who have been heavy for decades, will never get down to a healthy weight. I’m glad nobody told that to my 63 year old insulin dependent diabetic who was on 70 units of insulin each day who is now completely off insulin shots after only 3 weeks on my program. I also celebrate the bravery of my 330 pound patient who was failing gastric bypass, and with my program is now down to 305 pounds! Every day these patients struggle with the desire to lapse back into their unhealthy eating patterns, but with the right tools, the right team, and bravery sprinkled on top, I have no doubt they will continue to succeed!
I also find myself drawn to brave leaders. When I see an organization or company tackle a seemingly impossible task, I want to passionately support that effort. I’ve just returned from Phoenix where I spent three days at the eClinicalWorks (eCW) national users’ conference. Many of you know that I’m an eCW groupie. I fell in love with eClinicalWorks because I admired the way the company committed itself to providing an affordable electronic medical record solution to the solo or small group doctors, since this is where the bulk of the healthcare in this country is provided. My commitment to this company was also fueled by the story behind the innovative leadership. Four men with unique strengths from one extended family birthed the idea of eClinicalWorks only a little over 10 years ago, and now have a company worth 200 million dollars that is truly revolutionizing the way medicine is practiced. Every day this company faces incredible challenges in terms of government regulations, provider satisfaction, and being able to affordably provide the latest technology to both solo practitioners and large multi-specialty groups.
But what really impresses me is eClinicalWorks’ continued commitment to innovation. Over the past month I’ve had the opportunity to utilize one of eCW’s newest features, the care plan module, for my weight management program. There are still many bugs to work out, but the vision behind the product and the implications for its use are pretty mind blowing. At the conference I had the honor of discussing my weight management program with the CEO of the company, Girish Navani, as well as the technical genius behind eClinicalWorks, Vice President Sameer Bhat. I’ve attached the photos I forced them to pose in below! J But once again it paid off for me to be brave (or maybe a little pushy?) ;-), because it sounds like my patients and I will have the exciting opportunity to help the company develop some amazingly interactive weight management apps for an individual’s smartphone or iPad. These apps will provide inspiring data and much needed support for the brave people in my program. After attending the national user’s conference for two years in a row, I’m hooked on eClinicalWorks because the leaders perpetuate a culture of positivity and courage at every level of the company, even in the face of a complex and often daunting healthcare arena.
So to the rest of my patients out there that are following this blog for some insight into how bravery can help you in your life, I challenge you to take a close hard look at what you want out of life and start seriously thinking about how you can get it. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Don’t give up on a goal you think you can never reach. Don’t shut yourself off from personal connections that can lead to a treasured support network as you pursue your dreams. A common thread in all the great success stories was the courage to be brave!