I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a fantastic woman who came to Natural Healthcare Center through CityWell, a free resource created to help city of Long Branch employees and their dependents lead healthier lives. I’m proud to be CityWell’s health educator.
To protect this patient’s privacy, I’ll refer to her as Olivia.
Olivia is 5-foot-1 and weighed 256 pounds when she first came to see us. Just 27 years old, she was diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome, a group of medical disorders that collectively increase the risk of chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer.
Olivia’s Body Mass Index (BMI) was 48.5. BMI greater than 30 is considered obese. Her body fat percentage, which should be under 30 percent, was 54.1 percent.
She is also a heavily breasted woman. Because of the size and weight of her breast tissue, Olivia’s posture was very poor. We discussed breast reduction surgery as a way to help her improve her posture.
Olivia clearly needed to lose weight, but more importantly, she needed to change her body composition and lifestyle.
Between February and October of this year, Olivia lost 32 pounds, but that doesn’t come close to telling the whole story. When losing weight, it’s critical to measure what type of weight you’re losing. Of those 32 lost pounds, 28 pounds were fat. Her triglycerides, or the amount of fat in her bloodstream, dropped from 121 all the way down to 58, and her glucose, or blood sugar, dropped from 101 to 86.
Olivia is still a Natural Healthcare Center patient and she’s doing great. She’s happier, she has more energy, and her performance at work has improved.
Now, would Olivia and I ever win some kind of weight loss competition like you see on The Biggest Loser? Of course not. And I wouldn’t want to win something like that.
It’s such an awful concept, not only because of the message it sends, but because of the damage it can do to the human body. Healthy weight loss is merely a by-product of healthy changes in body composition and lifestyle. These things need to occur slowly, especially in cases of extreme obesity. They need to be closely monitored and scientifically measured.
You can’t do this by looking in the mirror and reading a number on the bathroom scale. You can only evaluate a person’s health and body composition through blood tests that include measurements of BMI, fat mass, triglycerides, glucose, HDL, LDL and other important metrics.
And this is why weight loss gimmicks and crash diets are dangerous.
I couldn’t be happier with the progress Olivia has made, and I’m so proud of her commitment and determination. A future that was likely to include chronic illness and pain is now full of confidence and hope.
This is the kind of story that drives us every day at Natural Healthcare Center.