For some, the journey to a healthy weight is a bit more challenging and may require extra help. Individuals struggling to lose weight, with a body type that is medically considered to be significantly overweight, can often benefit from consultation with a bariatric medicine provider. Meet Virginia Wray, DO, CNSC, bariatric medicine, Mount Nittany Physician Group.
Q: Bariatric medicine is a newly introduced Physician Group service. Can you tell readers a bit about what this specialty entails?
A: When many people think about this line of medicine, they immediately think of bariatric surgery, such as a gastric bypass procedure. While surgery can be a part of the bigger picture in bariatric medicine, here at Mount Nittany Health, I am happy to be introducing weight management techniques that help patients better understand what their individual weight loss and management needs entail, and how to move forward, together, to achieve their unique goals.
Q: How does visiting a bariatric medicine provider differ from working with a nutritionist?
A: Nutrition is, of course, an important element in the weight loss journey, but it is only one part. In bariatric medicine, the focus is on overall metabolism — the key to achieving a healthier weight — and its contributing factors. Metabolism has essential supporting pillars, including sleep, hydration, physical activity and nutritional needs. In addition, many medical issues can have adverse effects on metabolism. When carefully examined and personalized, attention can be given to identified elements in order to help patients achieve their healthy weight goals.
Q: What might someone expect when meeting with a bariatric medicine provider?
A: The first thing to expect is a good old-fashioned heart-to-heart talk. When I meet with new patients, we discuss what brought them in to see me, what they are looking to accomplish and what behaviors they’ve been engaging in that are either working or not working. We often start by beginning record keeping of food and exercise choices. Studies have shown that people who keep these records lose twice as much weight, so it’s a great tool to use. Our bodies need calories, or energy, to keep us healthy and active. To maintain a healthy weight, however, we need to learn to balance the energy we take in with the energy we use.
Q: What is one of the most common misconceptions you hear from patients?
A: That they just can’t lose weight; they’ve tried time and again and failed. The truth is, most of us have tried to lose weight before and failed. The challenge is to stay motivated. Weight loss results from a series of conscious decisions that we make every day, with every meal, snack and beverage — whether you feel like it or not. This is a lifelong commitment, and not one made from guilt or shame; rather, a responsibility that comes from caring and a sense of worth and value. It’s about meeting your basic needs as a human being.
Q: What are some small things readers can do today to start moving toward a healthier weight?
A: Start keeping a daily food log, increase your intake of fruits and vegetables to five (or more) servings per day, start eating a healthy breakfast, drink plenty of water (not sugary beverages) and get a good night’s sleep. Get started on an exercise program that you feel is doable for you. Begin by taking the steps instead of the elevator, or walking around the block before getting your mail. Every little bit helps in starting the journey to better health!
For more information on Mount Nittany Physician Group Bariatric Medicine, call 814.689.3156 or visit mountnittany.org/bariatric-medicine.