The weight loss journey: tedious for some, easy for others, and mandatory for several that are literally witnessing obesity levels on the rise all around. Losing weight the healthy way and maintaining it permanently is a lifelong process that requires dedication and a well-structured plan. Keeping your weight at a healthy level requires following a specialized strategy set by qualified professionals. At COCP, an initial assessment with an endocrinologist is the first essential step towards a successful weight loss journey.
Dr. Jocelyn Eid Fares specializes in Endocrinology & Metabolism, Diabetes, and Clinical Densitometry. She, along with her other disciplinary team members at COCP, takes obesity very earnestly. And contrary to what many may think… obesity is a very serious health concern, rather than simply a cosmetic issue.
As an endocrinologist, what exactly is your role in the weight loss journey at COCP?
All patients will visit me as an initial step in the weight loss journey, and for many important reasons. As an endocrinologist, I must determine both the causes of obesity as well as the consequences. Some of the “causes” of obesity can be hormonal, and this is usually the case in around 10% of patient cases, with the majority of cases due to hereditary or lifestyle choices. However, another factor can be an endocrine or hormonal disorder. For this reason, I must assess the patient by means of a physical exam and the necessary blood tests.
We also must consider the “consequences” of obesity in addition to the causes; this is the specialty of the endocrinologist. An obese individual could have diabetes for example…. and it is my job to determine such factors. I must investigate for any vitamin deficiencies too; I must have a baseline vitamin level in order to set out the individualized plan and monitor it effectively. A patient may need supplementation along the way on their weight loss journey.
What are some possible hormonal imbalances in question?
A patient could present with hypothyroidism (common) or Cushing disease (due to a high cortisol level) for example; another important issue is to check for testosterone and estrogen levels, which can affect both men and women and contribute to certain types of weight gain. Simply dealing with such disorders can be a solution or at least a step in the right direction towards maintaining a healthy weight and getting back to a normal metabolic rate.
What types of signs or symptoms would raise a red flag?
Patients with hypothyroidism may exhibit dry skin, lethargy, weight gain, puffiness, pale skin, and possible menstrual irregularities in women; men who lack the male hormone testosterone will present a female obesity pattern in the abdomen region and have a more womanly shape. And the same is for the woman who might lack estrogen; she will present excess fat in the abdominal region, especially around the time of menopause. In regards to Cushing disease, we will recognize a short neck, a buffalo hump, a moon face, and bruises on the skin; the treatment in this case is surgery.
What can be done naturally to boost one’s metabolism?
Exercise is the main factor to focus on in order to naturally boost our metabolism, and it is important to maintain a stable weight loss in order to maintain a good metabolic rate. For those with hypothyroidism, the necessary treatment (medication) is a must in order to help the patient achieve a normal metabolic rate.
It has been said that hormonal balance improves all aspects of a person’s life. How so?
Yes, this is most definitely true. Hormones control almost every part of our physical and mental health. When they are not in balance, things go off course and affect many lifestyle elements; for example, disorders of sleep patterns (that increase cortisol secretion) have a negative impact on weight loss as well as on the mood, skin condition, and on the memory. Hormonal balance will surely keep us happy and healthy. It’s all about a healthy balance for our emotional, physical, and mental health.
What is the best advice you can offer patients heading on a weight loss journey?
I would surely communicate to the obese individual that he or she cannot lose weight without the help of others. And it should be clear that in 90% of obesity cases, the issue is about lifestyle choices. It is also one thing to lose weight – but maintaining that weight and setting up a plan to continue needs the guidance of professionals. We must monitor the patient’s metabolic rate with hormonal tests which will continue into the patient’s future. Both hormonal and vitamin levels should be monitored throughout the year according to the case at hand.
Should the average person be taking a multivitamin on a regular basis?
It depends on the individual. If someone feels they are not meeting their vitamin requirements then why not? Even if you are meeting the daily requirements, it will not hurt to take one. And it will not make you gain weight, as this is a myth I often hear about; however, certain vitamins could increase appetite.
How do leptin levels play a role?
Leptin is a hormone secreted by the fat cells. So, the higher the weight and the more fat in one’s body, the higher the leptin level.
What about diet pills?
There are FDA approved medications for weight loss; some work on the absorption of fat, some affect appetite level… and some can be injected for obesity management. The most important aspect to understand is that such medications should ONLY be given and taken under the strict guidance of a qualified physician/team.