Losing weight is hard for your doctor, too

- Losing weight is a struggle for many of us, even our doctors.

A 2018 survey by the physician-focused website Medscape found 47 percent of doctors surveyed said they would like to lose a few pounds.

Gwinnett Medical Center's Dr. Todd Vermeer knows the feeling.

"So, I've struggled with my weight my whole life.  Since I was a kid," Vermeer says.

And in the ER, Vermeer often sees patients struggling.

"So much of what I see in the emergency room in terms of people coming in with pain, with illness, and with sickness, would be so much better if they were able to control their weight," Vermeer says.  "I've started having very open discussions with patients about their weight and about the journey I have been on and am still on."

The 47-year old father of two's journey began with a talk with his colleague Dr. Neelima Dachuri at lunch one day in the hospital's cafeteria.

She was the new Medical Director of Gwinnett Medical's Center for Weight Management.

At the time, Dr. Vermeer weighed 265, had arthritis pain in his knee, and often felt sluggish.

"He said he needed some help," Dr. Dachuri remembers.  "And I looked at him and said, 'No, you can do it on your own.  You don't need to.'  But then he told me about his weight, and I was like, 'Yeah you probably need to lose some weight.'"

Vermeer joined the program, which offers restricted calorie eating plan and meal replacements.

For him, it meant a huge cut in his caloric intake.

"The low calorie plan was 1,000 calories a day, or the very low calorie plan was 800 calories a day," Dr. Vermeer says. " I was taken aback by that. I was, like, 'I don't know if I can do that!' And, it actually took me several weeks to get there."

But this was about more than counting calories.

"We have dietitian, we have fitness experts on board, and, of course, it is medically supervised by a doctor," Dachuri says.

"So we have all the things we need, not only to attain your weight loss but to maintain the weight that you've lost."

Over a period of several months, Dr. Vermeer dropped 55-pounds, down to a weight he hadn't been at since high school.

When he left the program, he gained back about 15 pounds.

So, now he's on a weight maintenance program.

These days, he says, he has more energy and feels better than he ever has.

"A big part of my motivation is my kids, who I want to keep up with for a long time," Vermeer says.  "They're 8 and 13, I want to be around for a long time." 

The Center for Weight Management is going to conduct a free, public seminar. For more information click here.

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