Friday, September 23, 2016

Don't Stress Out About It (Too Much)

Here at Dr. Feiz & Associates, we know that studies that can seem a bit confusing come out on a regular basis. A new one about the relationship between a tendency towards stress and anxiety being linked in some way to obesity got us thinking about how hard it is to figure out just what it is that triggers the overeating which is responsible for obesity, and also about how challenging it can be to achieve the truly healthy lifestyle we need to defeat it.

Indeed, aside from the matter of whether or not anxious people are more likely to be obese than calmer folks, there's the interesting everyday matter of what tends to trigger overeating. Yes, "stress eating" is a very common phenomenon, experienced by obese and non-obese individuals alike, who find that food tends to calm their anxieties.

Others, however, including at least some people with weight issues, actually tend to eat less and may even lose some weight when they are under some amount of stress. These people experience the equally common phenomenon of losing their appetite entirely when they are deeply worried about something. Indeed, for many people with weight issues, it's not so mcuh stress which can make them overindulge, it's boredom. At the same time, it's important to remember that not all stress is a bad thing; it can help us make important changes in our life and, at the right levels, can actually increase our enjoyment of life. It's all a matter of getting the right balance.

With all these subtleties and differences between individuals, it's no wonder that understanding how obesity works, and how to deal with it, has proven so incredibly difficult. Fortunately, we at least know that bariatric surgery really does seem to be the one thing that helps severely obese individuals to permanently reduce their food intake without being constantly distracted by excessive food cravings. At least there's one thing we don't have to stress out about!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Exercise Anyway!

For people trying to lose a lot of weight mostly by exercising a lot, the news has not been good. Evidence seems to indicate that, while exercise is certainly helpful for controlling weight -- and is absolutely excellent at improving our health and staving off the worst impacts of obesity -- it is not as powerful in terms of weight loss to try to expend more calories through exercise as it is simply to ingest fewer calories in the first place.

Here at Dr. Feiz & Associates, we understand why people are not thrilled by this. For many of us, it actually seems easier to increase our level of exercise than it is to eat a great deal less -- and that's because, as we've seen time and time again, while exercise tends to become a habit, curtailing our diet actually gets harder and harder over time for most individuals.

This is why so many people manage to lose a very large amount of weight ultimately regain their weight. It's very much as if the body and the brain, driven by certain key hormones, really wants us to regain the weight and will do everything in our power to persuade us to overeat so that we return to our prior weight. This is why procedures like the gastric sleeve have proven to be such a godsend to severely obese patients; they seem to actually change the metabolic processes that make weight loss so difficult for the large majority of patients.

Even so, whether or not you're are a candidate for bariatric surgery, we strongly advise everyone -- and especially those struggling with obesity -- to work exercise into their daily lives. (Though, of course, if you've been completely inactive, you should consult a physician before embarking on a vigorous new regime.) For nearly all of us, it's one of the best favors we can do for ourselves, with a lot of proven physical and psychological benefits. For those of us with obesity, however, it's one of the few countermeasures we can take that can reduce a great many of the worst impacts of being  overweight.

Health is not always an either/or situation. Sometimes it's more of a "yes, but..." In this case. it's "yes, exercise probably won't cure your obesity by itself" and "but, even if you remain obese, it will make your obesity-related health problems possibly a great deal less severe and, if you lose weight, it will help you stay that way and be as healthy as possible." In other words, just get out and do something. Regardless of whether or not you lose weight, you'll be a lot better off.

Friday, September 9, 2016

It's All in Your Head

Earlier today we were looking at a tasty looking recipe for a low-calorie dish using spaghetti squash in place of actual spaghetti. Of course, squash is a vegetable (well, technically, a fruit) and pasta is a grain-based dish; there really aren't all that many similarities except that it's long and stringy. Still, cover it with the right sauce and it can be a very nice part of a low-cal healthy lifestyle, even if lacks a lot of the yummy starch most of us crave. For us humans, it seems, a lot can be accomplished by fooling ourselves in minor ways with what really amounts to psychological tricks.

At Dr. Feiz & Associates, we're keenly aware that there's no underestimating the psychological side of weight loss. We're not just taking about psychology in the usual sense of dealing with how our thoughts and emotions impact our desire to overeat, we also mean that the only way we know we're hungry -- and we mean physically hungry, not just desiring food in order to pass the time -- is through our brains. Every time we eat, whether we're eating just the right amount to nourish our bodies or far too much, our brain is at the center of the experience.

An example of this that we often discuss involves the production of a hormone called ghrelin. In a person without obesity, this hormone performs the essential function of telling an individual that food is needed. However, obese individuals seem to produce more of it and, worse, its production actually increases when we begin to lose weight. So, our brain actually thinks we need food even when we don't and we feel as if we haven't eaten nearly enough. No wonder the statistics on weight loss are so depressing.

Fortunately, it turns out that bariatric surgery, such as a gastric sleeve, has a pretty big impact in terms of reducing these deceptive and dangerous signals. Specifically, by removing a large portion of the stomach, we also appear to reduce the production of ghrelin, which apparently makes it a lot easier to stick to the reduced calorie regimen we need to lose significant a lot of weight and keep it off over the long term.

So, in a funny way, when it comes to dealing with obesity, the way to a person's brain is largely through their stomach!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend is upon us and while we may take the day to relax and perhaps indulge in some home-made comfort food, it's important to remember that your journey to weight loss should never take a day off. We at Dr. Feiz & Associates understand that there are a variety of reasons that people struggle with obesity and although undergoing a bariatric surgery can certainly help a patient lose a significant amount of weight, the work very definitely doesn't stop there.

Though it's true that a bariatric surgery has proven to reduce lower levels of hunger inducing hormones and has also shown to improve a variety of health complications related to obesity, we still advise our patients to implement a nutritious and healthy diet as well as some exercise into their lifestyle after surgery. The sole purpose of a weight loss surgery isn't just to help you lose the excess weight, it's also about helping you keep it off in the long run and improving your overall quality of life. 

Indeed, a gastric sleeve surgery is an extremely effective method of weight loss, however, paired along with better food choices and more physical activity, you'll not only maintain your ideal weight and enjoy the many health benefits, but you'll feel good doing so too.

Our health is a lifetime project that requires our daily attention, even on holidays. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Blame Game

It's human nature to want to blame something or, better yet, someone, for any serious problem we may find ourselves facing. However, when it comes to the question of obesity, even though it's the primary focus of our work here at Dr. Feiz & Associates, it's extremely difficult to tease out one single factor that's truly responsible for the increasing problem of obesity.

To be sure, the fact that calories, particularly empty calories bereft of nutrients, have never in human history been more easily available or cheaper is certainly part of the equation. So is the fact that most of us have sedentary occupations and struggle to find time and motivation to participate in physical exercise. Still, these factors impact almost everyone, but only some of us become obese. That's why some people like to blame alleged character flaws in obese people. The reality, however is that there really seems to be no particular type of person who becomes obese.

Honestly, however, all we know for sure at this point is that, once we become obese, it's extremely difficult to lose the weight. Our bodies appear to be set up to want to maintain our weight -- whatever weight that may be -- and they do everything they can to thwart our attempts to reduce our size, including manufacturing hormones which make us feel ever more hungry and slowing down the rate at which we burn calories.

When it comes to finding an ultimate cause, obesity remains largely a health mystery. Fortunately, we at least have one working solution in bariatric surgery. We've now proven through countless studies and massive anecdotal data that these procedures not only make it a lot less comfortable to overeat, procedures such as a gastric sleeve surgery render metabolic changes that seem to help patients do what many of them previously thought was next to impossible: losing significant weight and keeping it off in the long run.

So, yes, we're not at all sure what to blame obesity on, but at least we have one effective solution.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Food for Thought

There's been lots of talk lately about the effects of bariatric surgery on the brain, particularly in terms of its response to food. We all know that part of the reason why most patients are unable to achieve long lasting results is because of the difficulty for many to keep on making healthier food choices over a long period of time. Yes, it can be incredibly hard to overcome our desires to overindulge in food at times, however, weight loss surgery can change that.

The good news is that recent studies have shown that weight loss surgery procedures, such as a gastric sleeve, not only limit the amount of food that is able to be consumed by severely obese patients, but can also radically change their entire relationship with food. The studies also point out that bariatric surgery patients showed lowered levels of activity in the brain's reward centers when they were exposed to images of food.

At Dr. Feiz & Associates, we work hard so that our patients can safely and successfully lose weight and most importantly, keep it off in the long run. With extremely effective and cutting-edge weight loss surgery procedures showing even more promising results thanks to these studies, you can really see that a healthy lifestyle is achievable.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Choose the Right Tool

There's no getting around it, weight loss is hard; people who think anyone with an obesity issue can easily adopt a healthy lifestyle when it comes to eating have almost certainly never faced a serious battle with their own weight. So, it's no wonder that so many of us keep looking for, and buying, products that claim to make losing weight easier in some way, or which even advertise nearly miraculous properties in terms of helping consumers win the battle of the bulge. The problem is that these products are rarely even mildly helpful and are, more often than not, a complete waste of money and time. Worse, a large number of them can actually be dangerous or, at least, unhealthy.

We obviously spend a great deal of time thinking about weight management here at Dr. Feiz & Associates, and while there are options for people in all kinds of situations, they are relatively limited. For those of us with a relatively small amount of weight to deal with, the battle is hard but achievable with a serious commitment to the right mix of a lower calorie diet and a healthy amount of exercise.

For those of us who are definied as severely obese, however, the challenge is all that much greater and many find it essentially insurmountable. For these people, sooner or later, the pangs of hunger that only increase as we lose weight become too hard to fight. Fortunately, bariatric surgery is the one tool that really has been proven to truly help. It's not a magic bullet that makes losing weight a breeze, but patient after patient has found that it lowers the hunger pangs enough to make redefining your relationship with food more easily doable.

Choosing the right tool is important in any job and, for severely obese people, we now have at least one that really does seem to work in most cases.