Why Believe Me
I’m writing this blog backed by over 25 years of clinical observation and thousands of scientific studies reported in the medical literature. I’ve also included advice from real patients who have “been there,” and then succeeded. During my years as a weight-loss doctor, offering surgical and non-surgical weight loss counseling, I’ve interviewed thousands of weight-loss clients. I’ve observed their habits and studied the patterns that result in success or failure. As I observed weight-loss surgery patients become successful, I saw that the habits resulting in their success were the same habits followed by people who had maintained fitness their entire lives. It became clear that my job wasn’t to come up with some strange and unique rule book that needed to be followed by “fat people” in order to help them lose weight; my job was simply to help weight-loss patients find their way to a fitness lifestyle. Nothing more.
Time has proven my approach.
Early in my practice, in 1997, I began to perform bariatric surgery. With formal bariatric surgery training during my residency I turned out to be the only formally trained bariatric surgeon in the area. At that time, bariatric surgery was still considered a radical approach to weight loss and many doctors doubted my prospects for long-term success.
The first procedures I performed were all revisions of prior bariatric procedures that had resulted in complications. What I noticed was that the patients being sent to me had undergone bariatric surgery without any real understanding of what the surgery entailed. These patients had no chance of success because nobody had explained to them how the surgery worked or what they needed to do to make the surgery successful. They had been led to believe that weight loss surgery was magical and would “change” their diet, somehow, making them thin for life. To me, this was no different than the magic diet pills on TV that made you “melt away fat in your sleep. I decided that the entire field of weight loss, whether through surgery or not, was hugely dependent on the patient modifying his or her behavior. This, in my opinion, involved the patient understanding their role prior to surgery, and then choosing to participate in the system.
In order to provide this prior understanding, combined with post-operative support, I decided to first put together what I called a Nutrition, Exercise and Wellness program (The N.E.W. Program) and then to add on surgery, when patients chose surgery as their best option. Patients could choose either a surgical or a non-surgical path, and I had every patient set his or her own goals and identify the people in their lives that were capable of support. I made one additional stipulation that I felt necessary for success: I insisted that each patient accept full responsibility for developing a combination of eating and exercise habits that would make the surgical approach successful.
Were all my patients successful? No. No process can claim a 100% success rate. But this N.E.W. lifestyle approach, combined with surgery, was more successful than simply doing the surgical procedures alone, and far more successful than any diet-and-exercise program out there. Period!
In the 20+ years since my first patient, I have developed a set of guidelines that has resulted in success for thousands of overweight individuals. These guidelines are described in the book. The book also contains invaluable insight into why people choose weight loss surgery, and how your friends, family and your physician should think about the problem of severe obesity.