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Last week, I had the opportunity to get some empowering health insight and wisdom from Bariatrics Physician, Doctor Mignon Marquina. I caught up with her in the middle of her busy work day, in her Inglewood office. She was just finishing up with a patient, when she made herself available for my questions.
Health issues and concerns are becoming more and more prevalent today, especially within the African American community. As more people become aware of the rewards of good health, health related illnesses, and the risks associated with a poor diet and lack of exercise, the more people remain engaged in being healthy by eating healthier, and living a healthy lifestyle. With our preconditioned biases based on beauty, looks, our vanity, and our obsession with "A Sexy Culture," it's no wonder why there are so many people practically starving themselves, going through extreme measures, and causing other health problems just to feel attractive, to have a certain image, and to keep up with the constant emphasis society places on beauty and looks. These days, there is too much pressure into looking good. Not to mention all of the work and money that it takes to look great. Ironically, the obnoxious bombardments of images through television and advertisements, which subliminally sell products, actually work. Attractive, good looking people make for more successful marketing campaigns. The more appealing the person in the ad looks, the more likely a consumer to purchase the product. In other words, let no advertisement define what beauty is to you, and be smart when coming up with weight loss plans, and plans to enhance your beauty and appearance. There are many methods to accomplishing the goals of looking good and feeling great, not all of them are healthy. Some people try to take the short cut to speed up the weight loss process by starving, or by taking pills. Others undergo surgery to get to be that image that they always imagined, and many may face long term medical conditions down the road, derived from unhealthy weight loss practices, procedures, and unhealthy habits. The healthy route to weight loss may not always be the fastest, but it is the best and safest in the long term. Our society places too much emphasis on beauty, looks, appearance, and image.
When I spoke with Dr. Marquina, I walked away with a better understanding on how my health impacts how I feel about myself, and I feel motivated to dedicate and commit to a healthier lifestyle.
You are a doctor who specializes in Bariatrics...how did you gravitate towards this field?
Bariatrics Medicine is my field of specialty. My approach is... Most diet doctors specialize in Bariatrics believe that people need to eat less and exercise more. We all know that, but the fact of the matter is, people just don't feel like doing that. They can't maintain that, it's just like there are too many pressures during the day and it's not a realistic complete way for patients to take care of their health. What I do in my practice is I really develop an effective way of helping them manage their lifestyle. There are some strategic things that need to be done in order to have a lifestyle that accommodates our lives. What I do is help people strategically plan out their lives so that they are able to accomplish their ideal self-image.
What do you find to be some of the most common reasons that people overeat or binge eat?_
I have found that the reason why people are out of control when they are eating is because they have cravings.
When you are craving something you cannot think of anything else. So we get into this state to where we're generally starving when the cravings kick in! Then we have this focused, very specific desire to have a particular type of food, and because we're always starving, by the time we get to the food, there's no shut off valve. We'll just stuff it all in, eat it fast, and unfortunately what happens, once it gets in there, makes us feel bad. It extends our stomach, and it's not a good feeling. Your brain kind of goes numb, and the blood rushes to the stomach. What I try to do is give patients better strategies so they can feel more energetic, so they can really be more productive, and so they can accomplish their goals. Financially, it's estimated that we spend 30 Billion Dollars a year dieting and trying to lose weight. Then, it's another 78 Billion Dollars per year on being overweight, so that's the medical cost of being overweight and/or obese. So together, we're spending more than One Hundred Billion Dollars in this economic crisis on being overweight or obese, either maintaining it or trying to get rid of it. Two-thirds of the population is on a diet. Three-fourths of the population (roughly 74 percent) is either overweight or obese. From my point of view, if all of the over-the-counter stuff, if all the current strategies, the whole 'eat less exercise more', if that were truly effective, our country would not be getting bigger, it would be getting smaller. Through the process that I have created, we start addressing some of the reasons why they made the choices in the first place so we don't have to keep stumbling over those issues. We can get past all of that and accomplish the life and the lifestyle we desire.
What technique do you use to get to the root of your patients'/clients' eating problems?
What I do is very focused in a one-on-one format. Sometimes I do seminars and workshops; so for the most part, we have to really isolate what the common denominator is for people: what holds them back. Sometimes that can be fear, afraid of being successful, afraid of failing again, afraid of having to give up all the stuff they love; there's certainly a common thread of fear that prevents us from doing the things we know we're supposed to be doing for ourselves. Sometimes it's just poor planning and occasionally, it's just someone had a baby and maybe they haven't been able to shake the extra weight. Whatever the problem is, that's where I am very effective in my work at being able to weed out those core issues and helping people find a strategy for addressing them that fits into what they are capable of accomplishing at that moment. Some people come in and they want to lose weight but I feel like they are depressed. Their situation at home is difficult, that instead of starting with a diet, which will probably make them even more depressed, now they are not eating the food that they love. Ultimately, I would like to have them at a place where they understand they can eat whatever they want whenever they want, and not feel deprived. That's a big part of eating less, feeling deprived. Anytime you're feeling deprived there is a binge waiting to happen.
How are your patients able to keep the weight off and change their lifestyle (after your advisement and treatment)?
It's the strategies I give them. They leave my office with a tool box of realistic things that they can do that aren't going to compromise their quality of life. Sometimes we need the support and the accountability to face situations. Initially, they need support while they're out there trying things. In my experience, I've had thousands of patients so I've heard everything, and we have already worked out what's going to work for them and that comes through the coaching. One thing I should emphasize that really bothers me is when people go to the doctor's office specifically to get pills, appetite suppressants, etc., they don't get any education on how to do things differently so when the pill is taken away, they have the same behavior, the same strategy as when they came in. Patients seeing Doctors that are not supporting them with the lifestyle and behavior strategies needed to be successful and achieve their goals, are really at high risk for not being able to maintain the achievements that they do make. I get patients from everywhere and they've tried everything and they are finally able to maintain their weight and their health in the long run. I am empowering them. I am giving them the tools they need to be successful any day, anywhere, no matter what the circumstances are.
_People, but more specifically women, are under a lot of stress these days. How can a woman with a hectic schedule eat healthy and feed her family in a healthy way, especially due to us being in a recession?_
Most women do take good care of their kids. They love their kids enough to make sure they have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Usually, given their circumstance, they try to make sure it's nutritious. On the same hand, they'll pack the kids a lunch for the afternoon, and get up, go to work, and have nothing. We really do take good care of and nurture our children, we nurture our homes, and we take care of our spouses. Even if we are single, we take really good care of others, and spend a lot of time at our work. We might spend 30 minutes providing good care for ourselves and that is usually the bare minimum. Again, it's lifestyle strategies that help us. I help patients work out ways that they can factor in time for themselves and other things that need to have a satisfying experience. Depending on where you live, you may have more or less access to healthy foods. Typically in lower income areas, there may be seven to ten fast food restaurants per block; I mean that is ridiculous. In other areas, there may be three, and sprinkled in between those three, there may be healthy options for eating. Sometimes our options are very limited and we have to go the extra mile to get the stuff we need.
What is your formula of success for healthy living and weight management???
Being organized, waking up early, exercise, and eating healthy. I think good things happen because we make them happen. We have to really be organized to get all the stuff in that we want to do...particularly when we are a working mom or dad, and have a lot on our plates. We
provide proven strategies so patients can make things work, or have a higher chance at being successful.
For more information on Dr. Marquina, Workshops, Seminars, or Weight Loss, you may contact (310) 673-9300 or go to www.weightcoachmd.com for information on the programs.