Is a doctor-supervised Diet plan for you?

BY PAMELA LUTRELL

Fireworks are quiet, stockings are packed, and San Antonians once again stare down New Year’s resolutions with planning, hope and extra pounds. Popular diet programs flood the market and confuse the brain. ABC even premieres this month a new reality competition titled My Diet Is Better than Yours, where personal trainers will pit their contestants and diets against one another.

However, true reality lives in local neighborhoods where some are making the decision to allow a medical professional, not a personal trainer, to oversee the weight-loss plan. Linda Ratner is an active mother of three and medical administrator of six urgent care clinics. “Interestingly, I have never had to struggle with my weight. I was always relatively thin and athletically built,” Ratner says. “I think my struggle began when my hormones changed, and combined with a less active, unhealthy lifestyle and working crazy long hours, it became the perfect storm.”Health

She also credits a high stress level with weight gain and the onset of high blood pressure. The health discussion resulted in Ratner beginning a program called Ideal Protein (www.idealprotein.com) offered and monitored by her physician.

“The biggest advantage of a diet done along with my doctor was the accountability,” she says. “And the comfort of knowing that this plan is safe. I am required to go in for weekly weigh-ins, measurements and counseling sessions.”

After six weeks, Ratner was down 20 pounds. She believes doing this program with her physician has changed her lifestyle. “Today, I am much more aware of the bad carbs I consume, and I realize I cannot eat as I did in my youth,” she says. “I no longer need the large servings, and I even replaced my coffee with green tea.” She believes the greatest benefit of the journey has been to acknowledge how incredible her body really is.
Lifestyle changes

Physician’s Assistant-Certified Shawn Mollica of the Deerwood Family Practice also recommends the Ideal Protein plan to her patients. “This particular diet resets your pancreas and liver,” she says.“This is what most people need to be able to start losing weight and to keep it off.” Mollica lost 25 pounds in about three months and has kept it off because it was a lifestyle change. “It is not a yo-yo diet,” she said. “It is designed in four phases in order to prevent the patient from returning to old habits.”

As a medical professional, Mollica is prepared to hear all of the excuses women make about dieting. “I could write a book,” she says.

“I tell people I am sympathetic to their issues, but you must get over them. You can do anything you set your mind to if you want it bad enough.”

Mollica believes her role is a vital one — to oversee medications associated with health issues that are a result of obesity; education about changing the lifestyle, including food choices and exercise; and encouragement along the way.

There is another diet program that was developed by doctors for their diabetic patients in the 1980s. Medifast is one of the few clinically proven andsubstantiated weight-loss programs available. Medifast offers programs and products developed by physicians and has been recommended by 20,000 doctors since 1980. There are three San Antonio
locations.


Another point of view

Dr. Kathleen Hands, M.D., of the Thyroid and Endocrine Center of South Texas, throws up the caution flag about any “diet” plan. She believes the doctor’s role is to assist the patient to see why he or she is overweight and how proper nutrition will help. “It is better to pay for a fitness coach than a diet plan,” she says. “There is no magical diet, and women should think twice about going on one.” She believes most weight lost on many diets will be gained back unless there is a true change in habits. As a thyroid specialist, Dr. Hands cautions, “Remember, problems with your thyroid have nothing
to do with obesity.”