The sun comes out and the bathing suits go on. But then come the cover-ups, as most women are not pleased with the extra pounds on full display.

This time of year puts a spotlight on weight issues. But just like one-size-doesn’t-fit-all, one weight loss plan is not right for everyone. Before hitting the gym or jumping into whatever the latest online diet trend is, consider what really works. Today’s weight loss options include customizable plans to meet specific needs or challenges, such as underlying health conditions that might hamper weight loss efforts.

Rather than simply looking at weight loss as a diet, most programs today approach the whole picture to help you improve overall health while also losing weight. That often means a health evaluation, nutritional education and learning about portion control, an important component to maintaining a healthy weight once you’ve reached your goal.

But most women are too busy to plan healthy meals, let alone fix them and squeeze in workout time. “We have busy lives. We depend on fast food or foods that aren’t fueling our bodies the right way, then we can’t figure out how to lose weight. You have to think about food differently,” explains Jennifer Owen, a representative for Ideal Protein, a medically designed and developed program for long-term weight loss management, located in medical offices.

Using evidence-based guidelines to manage weight loss, Ideal Protein’s approach tackles the root cause of metabolic syndrome — the body’s overproduction of insulin — by restricting consumption of sugars and carbohydrates.

“Today’s diets cause our pancreas to be overworked, making our cells insulin-resistant. Removing carbs from your diet lets your pancreas recover, forcing your body to use its stored fat as fuel,” explains Owen. “Carbs are sugar. Sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine. Is it any wonder we all struggle with weight loss?”

Ideal Protein participants are supervised by medical personnel and typically lose two to three pounds of fat a week. Body composition is measured weekly to keep everything on track, and weekly counseling sessions, as well as emails with nutrition and exercise tips, help support participants during their weight loss journey.

A mother of three, Owen lost 43 pounds on Ideal Protein more than five years ago and has maintained her weight using the nutritional education she gained through the program. “We think exercise is the key to weight loss. We think the faster we go, the harder we push, the more we’ll lose, but that’s not how it works,” says Owen. “You have to understand nutrition, portion control and how your body works. BLTS (bites, licks, tastes and slips) add up to work against us all.”

Education and medical supervision are also key components behind the weight loss management programs offered by Clinical Nutrition Services, an approach built on the idea that choosing the right foods can help transform your health. The program features coordination between a doctor and an in-house registered dietitian to allow for better weight loss management and any underlying medical issues that might impact weight loss.

To address weight loss issues, Clinical Nutrition Services’ physician-led office conducts metabolic testing and body composition analyses while using objective clinical analysis to determine vitamin and micronutrient levels and food sensitivities. “We often see people who have tried other weight loss methods that haven’t been successful. They then feel that they’ve failed, or that they can’t do it, but we discover that it’s a hormonal issue or something else medically. Once we address their underlying problem, they’re able to successfully lose weight,” explains Dr. Rosemary Castoreno with Clinical Nutrition Services.

“We’re not a typical primary care clinic,” she says. “We conduct comprehensive evaluations and laboratories that go further than what you might see in standard testing. For some patients, weight loss is not a discipline issue — their bodies are making it very difficult for them to lose weight.” Dr. Castoreno herself had trouble losing weight until she conducted testing that showed her insulin levels weren’t correct. “Once I addressed that medically, the weight came off on its own.”

Clinical Nutrition Services does use appropriate medications to assist weight loss when warranted. “Our goal, however, is not to keep people on medication. It’s to make sure they can sustain the weight, so we re-teach/re-educate on portion sizes, good versus bad carbs and more. After many of our patients lose weight, they no longer need medication for diabetes or blood pressure, so we see people reduce or eliminate the medical conditions, thanks to their weight loss,” says Dr. Castoreno.

Using medication to aid in weight loss is also a component of SliMedica’s weight loss services. SliMedica offers nutritional weight loss solutions, which may be paired with medication to assist in weight loss — as well as laser treatments to melt away fat. SliMedica’s Zerona Laser treatments utilize cold laser technology to emulsify unwanted fat and allow it to secrete naturally out of the body. “Combining weight loss with the cosmetic procedure (laser treatments) maximizes results. We can help patients lose a large amount of weigh in a small amount of time,” explains Alexandrah Castillo, an SliMedica patient counselor.

Typical patients at SliMedica achieve their ideal weight in four to eight weeks, losing 20 to 60 or as much as 80 pounds during that time. Like Ideal Protein and Clinical Nutrition Services, SliMedica offers a customizable program designed to meet each patient’s needs. “It may include prescription medications to suppress appetite or help give them energy to keep their bodies in maximum fat-burning mode,” explains Castillo. “To avoid losing muscle, a patient might take a medication that helps preserve muscle while losing weight. Medical supervision is key to our program.”

So find the weight loss program that’s perfectly suited for you, then toss that cover-up and let the swimsuit enjoy the season.

By Dawn Robinette