How Can Functional Medicine Help With Weight Loss?
If you’ve read our previous article on what Functional Medicine (FM) is then you know that it is patient-centered process that takes into account all aspects that affects your health: your lifestyle, your well-being, what you eat, your work environment, your relationships and communication with others, how you relax and play, your hobbies, what medications you have taken, how well your digestive system functions, and what chemicals you’ve been exposed to.
In working with you as a patient, we take a step back and try to see common features that might link all the health conditions that you might be experiencing. By looking for the commonalities and patterns, we can offer interventions that affect multiple pathways, helping you recover your health faster and more completely. That’s why, as a FM practitioner, we dig deeper into all the systems to find the root cause of the problem and create long term optimal health without long-term prescription use.
One of the most common reasons patients seek out our help is weight loss. Have you done everything “right” to lose weight but haven’t seen the results? “Eating right” and exercising but still not see the results you’re looking for? Tried every diet under the sun, yet, still not be able to maintain a healthy weight? We view weight loss through a bigger lens and discover the cause unique for each patient. Often there is more under the surface that is undermining your best-intentioned weight loss efforts.
So, before we dive into what exactly an individualized Functional Medicine approach to weight loss can look like (aside from your standard “eat healthy and exercise” model), I’d love to lay out an analogy first, to get your wheels turning and thinking differently like we do here at STRONGLIFE!
A Good Ol’ Analogy
Alright, picture a corporate company and office. You have a sales department, product development, HR/payroll, managers…all the way up to the CEO. But something has happened – 5 employees didn’t get paid and they are upset, causing tension. You’d think, alright closed case, it was HR, they didn’t do their job. Go to HR and tell them to fix the problem. Well, it’s rarely that simple.
After some digging, it turns out those 5 employees are new to the company – 4 filled out their paperwork and gave it to their direct hiring manager as instructed, and 1 thought they turned it in, but it was never received. Well, that makes this issue more complicated than expected, and isn’t such an easy fix. Did the manager just forget, or lose the paperwork and didn’t ask for new ones in time? And where did the other new hires paperwork go? Maybe they put it in the wrong inbox at the office circulation station?
These employees, all in different roles and departments of the company, needed to communicate with each other and fix things on many levels. That way, this issue doesn’t happen again. On a side note – did the CEO ever find out? No, because although everything is connected and run by the CEO, not everything needs to get back to them and can be solved without them.
You may be asking yourself how does this analogy relate to weight loss struggles? Digging deeper to find out the real source(s) of the problem on many levels, not just jumping to the conclusion that it was one single issue. FM treats the individual as a whole, both inside and out, to get to the root cause so the same problems don’t continue to happen.
What might this FM approach look like for someone with weight loss struggles?
Let’s use Sarah, a 45-year-old woman that wants to lose weight and is about at her wits end with it all but knows it will be key to her long-term health and wellbeing. She shares some basic information with us, health history, primary concerns, and what she has done before to lose weight.
Initially, we see a couple different diets on there (which can tell us a lot about what her metabolism has been trained to do thus far), a family history of diabetes on one side, high cholesterol on the other – what we like to call antecedents. What comes before a health concern arises and may be key in how we treat her as a UNIQUE individual. Currently, she also has mildly high cholesterol, and has struggled with weight for the past 20 years.
Here is where conventional medicine may begin introducing a prescription for a statin medication to reduce her cholesterol, and the possibility of weight loss medications to curb her appetite or increase sensation of fullness. This is often done without a plan on how to go about changing habits and only using medication temporarily. Is that really going to give her, her health and wellbeing back? Is that uniquely prescribed to her and her personal struggles with health and weight loss? We think not.
This is where our approach differs in the FM world. We want to hear her story and get to know the WHY behind her struggles. We care about her perspective and listen to what she has to say and think about her health.
The more we talk to Sarah, we find out that 20 years ago when she started to struggle with weight, that year she just had her 2nd child through c-section, her husband lost his job, she needed to go back to work sooner than anticipated, to top it off she got a sinus infection that required antibiotics. Boy was that a year for her, imagine the stress that put her body and mind under! These are what we call triggers, what instigated her weight gain concerns and struggles. Clues on how to address the underlying issues wreaking havoc on multiple systems in her body, and her inability to achieve a healthy weight.
Taking note of all these key life events that truly play a role in where she is at today, we then run a comprehensive blood panel to assess what her metabolic state is now – from blood sugar, to inflammation levels, to nutrient levels, thyroid functional, and her immune system. Then, we compare all of it. Like a puzzle to formulate the proper treatment plan for Sarah – with the idea of a short-term supplementation and treatment protocol, along with dietary changes and lifestyle changes to ensure long-term success.
Once we target those underlying imbalances and help her body get back to working as it is designed to work, exercise and other lifestyle changes will seem effortless! Knowing her personal story and what is important to her, will only not only help us to formulate the proper approach that will help her shed the weight for good, but give her back her optimal health and confidence!
At STRONGLIFE Functional Medicine in Lithia, FL, Dr. Justin Scott can help you address any underlying issues, whether you realize they’re there or not, and improve your overall health.
“I hope that you found this as valuable as my patients have over the years. If you’re interested in a patient-centered process that takes into account all aspects that affect your health, then I would encourage to visit our website at www.stronglifefunctionalmedicine.com to see how we help our patients improve their health and to find if you are a good candidate for a Functional Medicine approach.