Women taking part in a weight loss program at St. Anthony's Hospital said slimming down for the long term takes persistence, creativity, patience and accountability.
Bea Eberley pulls out resistance bands when she doesn't feel like exercising. LaWanna Porter keeps a list of what she eats and counts her calories.
Both are a part of a yearlong pilot study that could be a model health care professionals will want to reproduce. The program uses a multidisciplinary approach, calling on dietitians, fitness experts, psychologists and other health professionals to help participants lose weight and keep it off.
Overall, it helps them change their lifestyles, said the clinic's creator, Dr. Kautilya Mehta.
“As doctors, we tell patients to lose weight all the time,” he said. “This is actually getting them to weight loss.”
Living a healthier lifestyle and losing weight is important, he said, particularly in a place like Oklahoma where obesity, a lack of exercise and other unhealthy habits lead to heart disease and other chronic health conditions.
Weight loss process
At first, participants see all the health experts once a week. Then, as they progress in their weight loss, they see the professionals less and less, Mehta said.
“They are there to encourage you,” said participant June Graham. “Knowing someone is keeping me on track keeps me accountable.”
“I started off saying I'm on a diet,” patient Jessica Mayberry said. “I'm not — this is a lifestyle change.”
One patient had lost 60 pounds a little over five months into the program. Others had lost between 20 and 50 pounds.
Mehta said it's not about quick weight loss. Rather, it's gradual and for the long run.
Many in the program have had surgeries inhibiting their ability to exercise. Because each person gets an individualized plan, even those obstacles can be overcome.
All the women said learning portion control and drinking plenty of water is a cornerstone of weight loss.
And like Eberley and Porter, all have creative ways of keeping track of calories, getting in exercise or cutting portion sizes.
One woman said when she orders dinner at a restaurant, she immediately gets a to-go box and puts half the entree in the box to eat later.
Mehta said psychologists also help patients work through emotional reasons for eating, such as stress and depression.
“Because it's individualized, each person can talk about individual problems,” Mehta said. “That's hard to do in a group setting.”