Ever get mugged? You're given a choice: "Give me your money, or I'll take your life." Some choice!
This week we attended the monthly Duluth Merchants Association meeting at the Gwinnett Center for Surgical Weight Management. As we enjoyed the professional, warm and welcoming atmosphere, we learned of another harsh reality: Because of obesity, thousands of people die and millions of dollars are lost...both Businesses and individuals suffer.
Smart businesses have a financial business plan for future success, but few businesses include an ongoing plan to encourage both employees and owners to live healthy and productive lives. When folks get sick more often due to obese lifestyles, dollars are lost due to absenteeism. And then there’s “present-eeism” which refers to the reduced productivity experienced by obese folks less happy on the job.
Our health conscious evening at the center began with a "Not Your Typical Hospital Meal.” We enjoyed nutritional culinary delights prepared using “Chef Dave” recipes: Cheesy Gorgonzola Apple Stuffed Mushrooms, tasty sandwiches, cheese nibbles, and hummus with crackers and pita bread. Dessert was fresh fruit in vanilla yogurt served over angel food cake.
And who is Chef Dave, you ask? Chef Dave as the only certified bariatric chef in the United States was once a bariatric patient himself 12 years ago. Now working as a chef, his passion is “to help fight the disease of obesity one meal at a time by educating, inspiring and motivating people to live healthier lives.”
Our host for the evening was Debra Proulx, manager of the Bariatric Program. With 93 million Americans obese (and 28% of Georgians fall into that category!) Debra shared the center’s vision: "to transform lives one person at a time.”
“Healthy Aging nuts” that we are, we asked Debra to explain the role of genetics vs lifestyle choices in regards to obesity. Debra stated that “genetics loads the gun and lifestyle choices shoot the bullets.” Obesity affects every part of the body, with heart issues and diabetes being the biggest potential health risks.
Only a few of the very obese are able to lose the needed weight and keep it off on their own. The surgical weight loss solution treats the obesity, making it possible for the physical issues to minimize and sometimes even go away. Once the obesity factor is eliminated, then personal lifestyle decisions kick in, and the Bariatric program encourages patients to reprogram themselves to make healthy life choices. While the weight loss is a good first step, as Debra pointed out, “weight reduction doesn’t eliminate what got them there in the first place!”
Over 150 high risk folks mostly in their 30’s and 40’s (high risk means they were either “Severely Obese or Morbidly Obese” with Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 or greater) have already completed their surgeries…many more are just beginning their journey.
Program members start with 6 to 8 weeks of pre surgery seminars, preparing them for healthier and more socially interactive lives ahead. Followed by a 1 day surgery and hospital stay, they then join many ongoing support groups encompassing all aspects of their new life: from clothing exchange (just imagine how expensive it would be to continually update your wardrobe as your body sheds a 100 plus pounds!) to social interaction (for some this surgery opens the door to first time dating!) to nutritional cooking classes, to fitness and dance classes, as well as support groups for family and friends (major influencers!).
Everyone involved must make changes. Most importantly they become lifetime members of the Program with the added benefit of acquiring many new life-long friends along the way.
Just as obese folks find hope and choices for a better lifestyle at the new Center for Surgical Weight Management, America and local businesses are becoming more aware of the positive influence the center and healthy lifestyle choices have on productivity and happier employees.
Bottom line, this was a “happy” November DMA meeting, with healthy food, pleasant camaraderie, and some inspiring success stories.
What a great way to start the holiday season, with an eye toward an “Active Positive Lifestyle and a healthier you…please join us!
As photo journalists, public speakers and seniors, we promote Active Positive Lifestyles and Healthy Aging in America. If you would like us to promote your event or speak with your group or organization, please contact us…we would love to hear from you!
Sheri and Bill Eppright,
Positive Public Image, Inc.