Healthy Lifestyles: Losing weight and gaining life

FEATURE – Happiness is something we all strive for. We seek out people, places and things that bring us joy; it’s human nature.

Dr. Coleen Andruss | Photo courtesy of St. George Health and Wellness
Dr. Coleen Andruss | Photo courtesy of St. George Health and Wellness

Though many things contribute to our level of happiness, perhaps one of the greatest factors is our level of health. Our health is something we carry with us throughout our life. It often sets the limit on our happy meter; after all, it is difficult to be happy when you don’t feel well. Though we may not have complete control over our health, we definitely have the power to influence it greatly by our personal choices.

One of the most prevalent health issues in our society today is that of being overweight. It is a problem that, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, affects two-thirds of adults and one-third of children in America. It is a precursor to many other diseases, such as depression, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, arthritis, cancer and stroke. It is also one of the most treatable health issues out there.

So, if being overweight is so “treatable” and has such an impact on our health and thereby our happiness, why aren’t people doing something about it? It turns out they are. Or rather, they are trying. A recent survey shows that 41 percent of Americans are dieting to lose weight. Of those, only 15 percent are successful, meaning they kept the weight off for at least three years.

Too many of us are “dieting” and too few of us are changing our lifestyles, said Dr. Coleen Andruss, a board certified bariatric physician and the owner of Healthy Lifestyles weight loss clinics in Utah. Andruss said she believes that dieting often fails because it is not a long-term solution. She knows from personal experience the negative emotions and health issues that accompany being overweight, but she also knows from personal experience how to reach and maintain a weight goal by choosing to live a healthy lifestyle.

To look at Andruss now, you would never know she was once overweight. Her experiences couple 25 years of experience as a physician with her personally having been overweight and  put her in a unique position to treat clients with both credibility and compassion. Most of Andruss’s staff have been through their own weight loss journey, so they understand their clients well.

Healthy Lifestyles client who lost 100 pounds | Photo courtesy of St. George Health and Wellness
Healthy Lifestyles client who lost 100 pounds | Photo courtesy of St. George Health and Wellness

A Healthy Lifestyles client said of the program, “I have tried every diet out there.  I would lose and gain.  The success with Dr. Andruss compared to countless other programs was a combination of mild medication, which I felt was safe, keeping a food journal periodically, a small amount of exercise and most of all, the warm and caring encouragement I got from Dr. Andruss herself.”

Commercial diets are all about a number system, whether it’s counting points or calories. Andruss will be the first to tell you that the key to losing weight is not in the points, but in understanding key concepts and making good decisions. To make good decisions, you must have knowledge. The first thing Andruss does with her clients is educate them on what they eat and how it affects their body. She teaches them about balanced eating, and that it is more important to focus on what they eat as opposed to how much they eat. She listens to her clients, and together they come up with a plan tailored specifically to them, because everyone’s body is different and everyone’s situation is different. That is why Healthy Lifestyles succeeds where others fail; it is not a “cookie-cutter diet” that is issued to every client.

Andruss meets with her clients one-on-one to customize a plan specific to their needs, taking into consideration all aspects of their health. Because of her background as an internal medicine physician, she is able to evaluate existing medical issues as well as identify underlying medical conditions that may be making it difficult to lose weight. She can determine which medications, if any, are safe and appropriate to help her clients lose weight. Most importantly, she empowers her clients with knowledge and provides empathetic encouragement along the way.

“When a client comes in at a healthy weight, looking great, with a smile on their face and confidence in their step, and they say to me ‘I have learned so much,’ that is what I consider success, and that is why I do what I do,” Andruss said.

And she does it well: Andruss was named Professional Business Woman of the Year by Utah Business Women, and has literally been a lifesaver to many of her clients. Several of them have been able to come off diabetic and blood pressure medications as a result of their success with Healthy Lifestyles, lowering their risk for diseases and saving thousands of dollars on medications. She has a 78-year-old client who no longer has to take insulin. Another client who had never exercised a day in her life lost over sixty pounds, then decided to start exercising very slowly.  She eventually made a personal goal to run a marathon. To date, she has lost one hundred pounds and has run three marathons.

Dr. Coleen Andruss gives advice to a Healthy Lifestyles client | Photo courtesy of St. George Health and Wellness
Dr. Coleen Andruss gives advice to a Healthy Lifestyles client | Photo courtesy of St. George Health and Wellness

Healthy Lifestyles provides state-of-the-art equipment to assist clients in their weight loss journey. The body analysis machine helps determine how much weight can be attributed to fat, as opposed to lean muscle or dense bones. It helps ensure that the weight loss is actual fat loss. The metabolic testing machine can determine how high or low your metabolism runs, to help customize a plan for you. Their renown exilis body shaping and tissue tightening machine helps put the finishing touches on the new you, to make sure you look as good on the outside as you feel on the inside. This clinic has the right tools to ensure success in every aspect of weight loss, from the medical standpoint to the esthetic side of it.

Another reason this program has been so successful is because of the maintenance portion of the program. Andruss follows up with her clients on a regular basis to make sure they are maintaining their healthy weight. She reports a 99 percent success rate with those clients who continue through the maintenance portion of the program.

Andruss, “My philosophy is to teach people why, and explain what happens in the body. What I teach is not ‘my diet,’ it is how our body functions physiologically. I share with them what I learned in medical school. It’s not about losing weight overnight or becoming perfect. I teach them concepts, and help them understand how the body works to empower them with the knowledge that will bring about lasting change. It’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle.”

Change is not easy, but neither is living an unhealthy or unhappy life. There are so many components of life that we don’t have control over, it is comforting to know that with the right knowledge and the right approach, our weight is something we can control. We can make lasting changes that will improve our health, increase our happiness, and enrich our life. We can choose to live a healthy lifestyle.

Terrin Parker_Picture
Terrin Parker

Written by Terrin Parker for St. George Health and Wellness magazine.

Terrin Parker is Associate Editor of St. George Health and Wellness magazine. She is a physical therapist from Cedar City, Utah. She graduated from Loma Linda University in California, and has lived in Denver, San Diego, and St. George. She loves to surf, snowboard, write, travel, play the guitar, and spend time with her husband and their 12-month-old son.

St. George Health and Wellness website

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Copyright St. George News, Inc., and St. George Health and Wellness magazine, 2013, all rights reserved.

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