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    Gynecology 110 – Weight Control

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | April 23rd, 2017

    Gynecology 110 – Weight Control

    When I first started my private practice over 20 years ago, I remember telling a patient that was obese, if she did not do something about her weight, she would drop dead. I told her that bariatric surgery was probably her best hope. She reported me to the State Board, telling them I was the first doctor to talk to her about her weight and that I was cruel and insensitive.

    I had just moved to Ohio from New York. I was young and really not the most diplomatic person in the world. I discussed what had happened with a dear friend living in Ohio and she told me that people in the Midwest were not like the people in the East Coast. In the Midwest, they were very sensitive and that I should consider telling patients that “the problem was not that they were fat; the problem was that they were too short for their weight, if they were a little taller, their weight would be perfect”.  I have never come around to making that comment, but I have become more diplomatic.

    Obesity and overweight is the second leading cause of preventable death. It can lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. More than one-third of U.S. adults have obesity. The highest rates are among Blacks, followed by Hispanics, non-Hispanic whites and then Asians. About 82% of Black women are overweight or obese.

    Twenty years later, I have realized that it is extremely hard to maintain your weight in a society where food companies manipulate food for profits sacrificing quality. The Western diet consisting of fast foods, cheap processed foods, boxed microwavable foods with ingredients that cannot be pronounced, and sugary soft drinks and the like. These foods are literally killing us slowly and in any country around the world where this diet is imported tend to start shortening the lives of those people as well.

    The last part of our 10 part series is Gynecology 110 – Weight Control. If you are overweight or obese and you see a physician, you should be asked – Do you have concerns about your weight? Typically, one or more of the following recommendations will be made:

    1. Lifestyle modification – reduced calories, increased physical activity and behavioral strategies
    2. Weight loss medication
    3. Bariatric surgery

    For this part of the series, I want to focus on lifestyle modifications. What does lifestyle modification mean? It means that you have to make changes to your lifestyle that will help you either maintain or lose weight for the long run.  I have read a lot of books on different diets, weight loss strategies and foods.  The easiest strategy that I have come across to help maintain our weight is from Michael Pollen’s book, In Defense of Food

    Eat Food, not too much, mostly plants

    I will talk more about this below.

    If you are concerned about your weight or just want to maintain your current weight, consider the following:

    1. Love yourself – Regardless of your BMI, there is something that happens when you go in front of a mirror butt naked and declare that you love the person that you see. You are a wonderful gift from God. Once this happens, you begin to think differently every time that you eat. You want to start exercising because you love that person. Positive things happen. Remember the extra weight that you see did not happen overnight and cannot come off overnight and that is ok.
    2. Make the scale your best friend – click here to learn more from a previous blog. This is not to make the scale an obsession but it allows you to closely monitor what is happening with your weight. It is a strategy that has been used to help people not gain any more weight and research as shown that it works.
    3. Get enough sleep – Not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to your weight. This week is Sleep Awareness Week and the theme this year is Sleep Better, Feel Better. By getting enough sleep, your moods are better, you are more creative; you have the energy to cook and to exercise. This helps with weight loss and maintenance.
    4. Exercise – Something is better than nothing. Do not get hung up on the 30 minutes a day for about 5 days a week. This is ideal, but if you only have 10 minutes, do 10 minutes. Remember the four parts of exercise – aerobics, strength-training, flexibility and balance. Click here on previous blog for more information.
    5. Eat Food – Not everything that you see in the supermarket that claims to be food is real food especially those items that are found in the middle of store. They are often over-processed boxed food. Try to eat food that looks like the real food that it is supposed to be. Why buy applesauce instead of apples. Think about the quality of the food that you are eating. I am bothered by the $1.00 hamburger bought in a fast food chain. Is that really food?
    6. Eat your meals at a table – Avoid eating in your car, at your desk, in front of television – you tend to eat more snacks and packaged foods.
    7. Chew slowly – you will tend to eat less and really enjoy your meal.
    8. Cook your meals – I used to hate cooking but once I changed my mindset that I was cooking because I loved myself and my family, I have actually enjoyed cooking more. You do not have to be a trained chef. You can start with a simple recipe from a google search.
    9. Not too much – In those places that are considered Blue zones (areas in the world where people live long lives and are healthy), they eat very little. There is no super-size it. They focus on the quality of food, rather than the quantity. They do not go back for seconds. Consider using smaller plates.
    10. Avoid fad diets – It is not a good idea to eliminate any of the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates or fats) from your diet. Although you might lose weight quickly on one of these fad diets, it is not sustainable and what usually happens is that once you are off the diet, you gain more weight than you lost. Do not focus of dieting. Spend time enjoying your meals.
    11. Mostly plants – It is important to eat a variety of foods. Meat is not bad for you if eaten in moderation. Vegetables should take up the majority of the plate.
    12. Drink more water – Water should be your beverage of choice. If you really cannot stand the taste of water consider adding mint leaves, lemon, lime or fruits. Avoid the sugary drinks like soda or Kool-Aid – these are truly empty calories.

    I believe in the above strategies. Your weight loss will not be fast, but remember not gaining anymore weight is progress. Starting your meal and ending your meal with a prayer of gratitude also plays a role.





    2 Responses to “Gynecology 110 – Weight Control”

    1. Linda K. Jackson says:

      Great information. One thing that I do love about you is your frankness (probably because I’m the same way). I look forward to the next series, and will probably see you (for my bi-annual appt.) in August! 🙂

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    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.

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