‘Tis the season to drop those extra pounds

Saint John’s comprehensive, individualized weight-loss services help people achieve healthier lifestyles

SANTA MONICA, CA – Whether it’s a vow to lose that last 10 pounds or a decision to tackle a much more significant weight-loss challenge, getting in shape tops Americans’ New Year’s resolutions year after year.  

If changing diet and fitness habits overnight were easy, we’d all be trim and fit. Real change takes a holistic approach, according to Danny Shouhed, M.D., who specializes in robotic weight-loss surgery. The New Year, he said, is a great time to start. 

“We hear from an enormous number of patients at the beginning of each new year,” said Dr. Shouhed, founding medical director of the Bariatric Surgery and Metabolic Weight Loss Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. “It’s a good time to take stock and move forward with the lifestyle changes you need to get in shape and lose weight.”  

The experts at Saint John’s offer a toolkit for weight loss, tailored to each patient and their needs and based on physical factors as well as behavioral health issues. They address emotional addiction, depression and anxiety as well as metabolic and hormonal imbalances that hinder weight loss.  

For many, it’s a commitment to a healthful diet and exercise. For others, who are 30-50 pounds or more overweight, minimally invasive surgery might be the answer. Either way, adopting lifestyle-changes is the key. 

Anabelle Ahdoot, clinical nutrition manager at Providence Saint John's Health, said her role is to give patients the tools they can use to make those changes. The key, she said, is being mindful and consistent with their choices. 

“A lot of people make their resolution to lose 10 to 20 pounds, and they really mean it,” she said. Signing up at the gym, searching for healthier foods to eat and special “diets” to go on are some the things people may consider. 

“Unfortunately, for the majority of the people, determination drops after a couple of months followed by gaining all the weight back and then some more,” she said. “Some lose motivation because things are not happening as fast or drastically as they like, and others would simply fall off track once they go back to work and fall right into the routine of having unhealthy habits. Being too strict could also backfire and lead into self-sabotage if temptation wins over motivation.” 

Ahdoot guides her patients through their feelings about food and urges them not to feel guilty when they indulge. 

“I tell people losing weight – whether through diet or surgery -- doesn’t mean they can’t eat ice cream they rest of their life,” she said. “You still can enjoy life but you want to be more mindful and know when to stop. You learn discipline and mindfulness.”   

A dietitian is an important component, particularly in lifelong follow-up, Dr Shouhed said. 

“That’s what keeps patients in line, on target and on track,” he said. Some patients don’t do well long-term because they don’t follow up with their physicians. They feel guilty if they slip. I tell them it’s OK to slip, it’s part of the process. But we’re here to get you back on track. “ 

For those who opt for surgery, the first step is education to learn their options and understand what drives success. Goals and expectations are established, the patients meet with a dietitian and psychologist and undergo a complete physical.   

Robotic surgery, he added, allows for precision and quick recovery. The device allows the surgeon more manipulation, articulation and with 3D visualization, it increases precision.  

“Most of our patients are out of the hospital over one night and back to work in one to two weeks,” he said. 

To learn more about Saint John’s Bariatric and Metabolic Weight Loss Center, visit providence.org/locations/saint-johns-health-center/bariatric-surgery, or call 310-582-7329 to schedule a consultation. 

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