The Food and Drug Administration next month is expected to say if it will approve Qnexa. A diet pill promising a ten percent weight loss could offer hope to a nation with an obesity rate near 35 percent. But Tammy Beaumont is concerned. In a KERA Health Checkup, the Weight Management Director for Methodist Health System talks to Sam Baker about the way you should manage weight loss, even if you used Qnexa.
Tammy Beaumont: It allows you to have some appetite suppression, it allows you to have some more sense of fullness that lets you lose weight so it allows us the time to retrain our brain to make healthier choices. Again, most of the time.
Baker: But on the other hand, there’s a downside to it?
Tammy Beaumont: There are side effects. Things like memory fogginess, the chance of increased heart rate. But then on the other side of the coin, you look at the side effects of obesity - you look at the wear and tear on your body every single day.
Baker: And there are many people who will say, “I have tried everything. So I’m praying that somebody comes along with something like a pill.”
Tammy Beaumont: Well we all want a magic pill. We all want the magic thing that’s going to work. But the truth is, no one thing is going to work for everybody. And that’s why you have to maybe try, if your doctor recommends, that you’re a candidate for it - because obviously there are medical conditions that would make it unsafe for you to try Qnexa.
If your doctor says its relatively safe due to your medical condition for you to try it, again, it’s a tool to help you make the changes. If you don’t commit yourself to drinking less sugary drinks like sodas; if you don’t commit to cutting back on the fried food in your diet; if you don’t commit to some form of increased activity – even myself, I still consider exercise a four-letter word. But I realize I have to have activity in my life. I have to be using my rubber bands and stretching and doing something throughout the day to keep myself moving.
Baker: How did you retrain your own brain? Because you underwent weight loss surgery.
Tammy Beaumont: Correct. I weighed 266 pounds; morbidly obese. I had hypertension, my knees were shot. With surgery, it physically shrinks your stomach to a degree depending on which procedure you have. It shrunk my stomach. It kind of readjusted my intestines so that now I can only take a small quantity of food in. But I also have an intolerance to high degrees of sugar or high degrees of fat.
If I eat something that’s very high in fat or very high in sugar, I basically don’t feel very good. I feel kind of sick to my stomach. And there’s a set of symptoms that occur. That’s negative behavior modification.
Baker: But the person trying to lose five or ten pounds?
Tammy Beaumont: Five or ten pounds means that you need to make subtle changes in your lifestyle. You need to take away the sugary drinks, the sodas that have, you know, 16 teaspoons of sugar. Cutting back on some of the unhealthy carbohydrates. Healthy carbohydrates are things like fruits and vegetables, whole grains. If you cut back on the white bread, white flour, white rice and unfortunately potatoes, you’ll start noticing difference. You’ll lose a half a pound a month or half a pound a week, I believe it is, just by cutting back on one soda a day.
Baker: So the person, then, who’s maybe five or ten pounds overweight: If they’re going to change their behaviors - and that’s always the hardest thing I guess-
Tammy Beaumont: Right.
Baker: How do they go about it?
Tammy Beaumont: Make a plan to start writing down what you’re putting in your mouth. You write down everything that you’re eating now. You look at those and you think, where can I make substitutions? Where can I cut 500 calories out of my day? 500 calories times 7 days a week – that’s 3500 calories. That’s a pound a week that you could lose if you cut 500 calories out of your a day. Like switching from regular whole milk to fat free milk on your cereal in the morning. You know making your healthier choices. Finding some healthier alternatives that you like and develop a taste for them.
Nobody automatically will say that they like diet soda. But the fact is, most healthy things, if you’re not eating them already, are an acquired taste. So you write down what you’re doing. You make some substitutions and you see what you can … Again, you keep writing down, you keep the accountability, and eating breakfast. Starting out your day with some protein and some healthy carbohydrate to get you going, like within two hours of getting up. Something like a yogurt; maybe one slice of whole grain toast or oatmeal and maybe a hard boiled egg or --
Baker: And of course exercise factors in here somewhere.
Tammy Beaumont: Of course, absolutely. And again, the recommendation 30 minutes five times a week is great. But most of that’s our biggest excuse. We don’t have time. So you have to find the time throughout the day to put little spurts of activity. Take ten minutes. Instead of surfing the internet on your break, go make one lap around your building. Walk to the bathroom, walk back. You know, don’t take the elevator, take the stairs. Instead of sitting in your chair at night, take some vegetable soups in your hands and just do some exercises, lifting the cans of vegetables. You don’t have to have all this expensive equipment. It can be very inexpensive.
Tammy Beaumont is Director of the Methodist Health System’s Weight Management Institute.
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