Lifestyle Medicine: A simple formula for sucess

The formula for weight loss, feeling good, low cholesterol and a healthy blood pressure is actually a simple one. Eat well and be active.

So why is it so difficult for so many people to lead the healthy lifestyle that they want? Well, knowing the answer to a healthy lifestyle and actually living the healthy lifestyle are vastly different things.

Ask James Warpinski, a local mental health counselor, who worked this year with NMC’s Lifestyle Medicine Clinic to lose weight and reduce his high blood pressure. He says he knew that healthy food choices and being more physically active would work … but it was the accountability, encouragement and motivation provided by the Lifestyle Medicine team that helped him put the wellness formula into action and create success.

He was referred to the clinic by surgeon Anna Royer of Northwestern Associates in Surgery. She recommended he lose some weight and address his blood pressure before a surgery that he needed. He was surprised that his blood pressure had gotten so bad, and was thankful that Dr. Royer recommended he take action. “It was the kick in the butt I needed,” he said.

His first appointment at the Lifestyle Medicine clinic set the tone and the foundation for his success. That first, hour-and-a-half-long visit with Dr. Elisabeth Fontaine and Health Coach John Burke focused on his goals, and learning about him, his life and the healthy habits he already had down pat.

He then met every two to three weeks with Wellness Specialist Kate Robinson and Registered Dietician Lindsay Hoar. Those regular check-ins kept him honest. In addition to providing a natural accountability check, James had established a strong enough relationship with the team that he felt he could be totally honest about slips and setbacks.

“They wanted me to succeed,” he said of the Lifestyle Medicine team.

The team recommended he make small changes in his lifestyle – things that he felt sure he could continue. He started walking to work. He began making his own lunch to take to work. He started having a side salad rather than a side of fries. Even small choices – like just one slice of cheese on his sandwich  – added up to big impacts.

After 2-3 months, James had lost over 30 pounds and brought his blood pressure down. Just as meaningful were the quality of life improvements. Getting down on the floor to look for something under the couch? No problem. Walking up the two flights of stairs to work? Easy. All combined with a sense of pride in having accomplished what he set out to do.

He recommended the process as a positive one that would benefit many people – especially if the motivation for change is already there. If you have that, he says, Lifestyle Medicine can help. “They’re not going to fix you, you’ve got to fix yourself.”  

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