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Health Aware: Permanent lifestyle changes key to weight loss

Karen Nassib has lost 40 pounds since her initial consultation at the Edward Medical Weight Loss Clinic in December 2013.  |  Submitted
Karen Nassib has lost 40 pounds since her initial consultation at the Edward Medical Weight Loss Clinic in December 2013. | Submitted

Quite often, it takes a struggle to spark change.

Karen Nassib’s struggle was mainly physical, and her turning point was a road trip with her son’s high school marching band that included lots of walking and hauling equipment.

The exercise wore her out, and it shouldn’t have, she thought. Nassib, of Plainfield, who is 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed 245 pounds, decided it was time to do something new to lose weight.

“My problem was that I didn’t eat a lot, but what I did eat, obviously, was horrendous,” said Nassib, 63, a mother of four, including a 12-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son.

She wanted to be able to keep up with her youngest kids’ busy schedules. Nassib had tried unsuccessfully to lose weight through the years. Now she was ready to commit to a serious regimen. Nassib, who works in the scheduling department at Edward Hospital, decided to try the Edward Medical Weight Loss Clinic. She started the program in December and is already about 40 pounds lighter.

In an initial consultation, Dr. Zaid Jabbar, medical director of the clinic and an internal medicine physician with Edward Medical Group, screens patients for depression, stress and sleep apnea, and checks for thyroid problems. Patients who come to the clinic generally have a Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than 25, he said.

The clinic offers a multidisciplinary approach that includes medical monitoring, guidance on nutrition and exercise as well as psychological counseling regarding food and addiction. The treatment for patients ages 18 to 65 may include the medically supervised use of FDA-approved weight loss medications on a short-term basis.

In the six years Jabbar has been helping patients lose weight, he has fine-tuned his treatment. He stresses, however, that the patient must be motivated and committed to the process to be successful.

“I’ve seen very good results,” Jabbar said. “The patient has to realize this is a two-way street. They have to be willing to help themselves. They can’t expect to take a pill and wait for the weight to melt off. It just doesn’t happen.”

Changing the way you eat — and the way you live — is the key to dropping weight, Jabbar said. It’s not a temporary change, it’s a new lifestyle.

Dietary changes are the primary focus for weight loss. Jabbar doesn’t tell patients to count calories or track carbs, but provides healthy eating guidelines (such as cutting out soda) and allows the medication to dictate how much they eat.

For Nassib, who says her medication significantly curbs her hunger, that means a bowl of cereal for breakfast and a yogurt for lunch. She has cut her carbohydrate intake and increased the amount of water she drinks, but mainly she has cut her portion sizes.

“If I really want something, I’ll have it. I just won’t have that much of it. I had some ice cream the other day, but instead of a huge bowl, I just had a scoop, and I was happy with that.”

“I’ve been losing about 10 pounds a month, and it’s relatively effortless,” Nassib said. “It never occurred to me that I could lose this much weight, ever. I’ve battled with this for decades.”

Gradually, Jabbar encourages his patients to work in exercise. He often starts small, since many patients are used to a sedentary lifestyle. They learn how to maintain their weight loss through exercise, he said.

“Weight loss is 90 percent diet,” he said. “Weight maintenance is 90 percent exercise.”

Nassib is moving toward a more active lifestyle, starting with three 15-minute workouts each week.

“Dr. Jabbar is just wonderful. He’s kind, he’s soft-spoken. He puts you at ease,” Nassib said. “Everyone in the clinic is wonderful. What I like about (Dr. Jabbar) is that he doesn’t make things overwhelming. Ten minutes of exercise two days a week? No big deal.”

Her long-term goal: to feel better, keep up with her kids and see the number 180 on her scale. With the boost from the weight-loss clinic, Nassib is confident she’ll get there.

“This is the best decision I have ever made, absolutely,” Nassib said.

For information about the Edward Medical Weight Loss Clinic or to schedule a consultation and evaluation, visit www.edward.org/weightloss or call 630-527-7205.

Health Aware is a weekly column courtesy of Edward Hospital.

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