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Healthy Weight for Wellness Program at MarinHealth Medical Center!

What if you could feel better than you have in years? You have more energy. Your blood pressure and cholesterol are lower. Your clothes feel comfortable and loose. Those are the kind of results you can expect after successfully completing the Healthy Weight for Wellness Program at MarinHealth Medical Center's Center for Integrative Health & Wellness.

In this segment, Pamela Riggs, MS, RDN, explains how this 12-week integrative lifestyle program helps you lose weight safely and effectively. More than just another diet, Healthy Weight for Wellness is also an educational program. You'll learn to be more aware of your eating and exercise habits, and how to tune in to your body’s hunger and satiety signals. The program helps you set realistic weight loss goals. You’ll also learn to recognize the emotional and situational triggers that can lead to overeating.
Healthy Weight for Wellness Program at MarinHealth Medical Center!
Pamela Riggs, MS, RDN, CSOWM
Pamela Riggs, MS, RDN, CSOWM is an Outpatient Nutrition Coordinator & Dietitian at MarinHealth Medical Center.

Bill Klaproth (Host): Imagine having more energy, your clothes fitting better, and your blood pressure and cholesterol are lower. You feel better than you have in years. So, how do you achieve that? Well, here to talk with us about Healthy Weight for Wellness is Pam Riggs, the outpatient nutrition coordinator and dietician at the Center for Integrative Health and Wellness at Marin General Hospital. Pam, thank you for your time. So, tell us what is the Healthy Weight for Wellness Program?

Pam Riggs (Guest): Alright, well. It is a 12-week integrative lifestyle program that's really been designed to kind of help individuals in the community lose weight safely and effectively, and I would say that, you know, I work with patients in a way that puts them kind of in the driver's seat. Everybody has, you know, usually knows they already know. It's just a matter of just finding the motivation to kind of make the lifestyle and behavior changes that they need to be successful in achieving a healthy weight. So, that's kind of where I start with patients, and as I said, it's a 12-week program, and I offer the program in a bunch of different approaches. I work individually for those who just want private one-on-one sessions with me over a 12 week period. I do a small-group program between three and six individuals where I can give that personal attention, but also get that group peer support going, and I even have kind of adjusted the program to work with individuals who might be really busy and can't get into see me on a weekly basis, but maybe they do in the beginning and the end, and then we do kind of phone coaching sessions over the 12 weeks. So, in a nutshell, that's kind of the structure of the program.

Bill: Wonderful. So, why 12 weeks? Do you feel that's the length of time it takes for lasting change?

Pam: That's a really good question. So, I think 12 weeks is a good starting place to help people make some changes. I think it really depends on how much weight somebody has to lose, but shorter than that -- not quite enough time to really kind of address all the complexities or the issues that come up for people, and I don't know that we need to go longer initially just because of the commitment that people want to make and people are really busy and 12 weeks seems to be a good time. Long-lasting change in reality takes years and years of practice, so, as I said, this is kind of a starting place. I think it's enough time to develop that relationship with the patient as well as help them identify what it is that they need to work on from week to week. So, I think, it's a compromise in terms of getting started, but you know, I think long-term change occurs over a much longer period of time.

Bill: Um hm. And how often do they come and see you? Is it once a week? Twice a week?

Pam: Yeah. So, it's once a week. So, initially, you know, when I get started with someone we have over about an hour, hour and 15 minutes together, and I really spend a lot of time talking about what it is that has brought them to wanting to achieve a healthy weight at this time in their lives. We talk about what they've tried in the past; what's worked; what didn't work; what their goals are; what their eating patterns are like. How they grew up around food; how is that different now. Really try to get an idea of where they've been, where they want to go, and we kind of set some specific goals around what does a healthy weight mean, and another reason for the 12 weeks is – is I'm about safe, slow, effective weight loss. So, someone's not going to come to this program and in 12 weeks lose 100 pounds or 50 pounds. It's going to be closer to, you know, between 10 and maybe 25 pounds depending on how much they're willing to do to kind of get there. So, you know, we meet initially for an hour, really set these specific goals, get them started with the guidance that they need and then they come back once a week.
If it's the individual program, they come back for kind of a 30 minute weekly check-in with me where we just really focus on what their working on, what they're doing well; what they need to do set some specific goals moving forward from week to week, and then again at the end of the 12 weeks, they come back, and we revisit what it is that they've accomplished; what they've done really well; what do they need to continue on supporting more change and more weight loss if they've got more to go, or to start really talking about how to maintain the weight that they've lost, and I have some other support programs for them at that point.
The small group program, people basically start the same way -- individually, with me to set some specific goals and learn about what it is they need to support themselves and then it's a one hour group session once a week, and then at the end of the -- for 10 group sessions and at the end of the 12th week again, them come back and meet with me individually --

Bill: -- Um hmm --

Pam: -- and again, the smartphone coaching program -- same concept. They meet with me in person in the beginning and in the end for a more thorough session, and then there's 30 minute phone coaching sessions for about 10 of those in between.

Bill: Ok, you mentioned you can do this in an individual or a group session. What are the benefits of each?

Pam: That's another great question. My approach to offer these variety of ways is really based on what works for that particular person. Some people don't really want that group dynamic. Maybe they've had previous experiences – let’s say they went to a Weight Watcher's meeting, and they didn't like the group dynamic. So, they just have that feeling that that's not the right thing for them, or they’re very busy, and they can't coordinate – you know, usually we have to coordinate the group sessions to make sure that all members can actually make it to that group session, and the individual weekly sessions allow for a little bit of flexibility based on that person. So, if someone's looking for that private attention, don't really care for sharing what's going on with them with other people, and want the flexibility -- the individual approach, I think, is really great.
The small group program, you know, there is certainly -- literature that is very strongly in support of building a support system or having that group dynamic as being a key success strategy for people with weight loss. Again, it's not for everybody, but just having that peer support. You know, you're committing to supporting somebody else as well as yourself, and sharing. You, you know, you get in a group situation and what works for someone you may not have even thought of, and if I could be a good facilitator and share what everybody is talking about and the things that have worked well for them, I think it's a really good way for people to learn what works for somebody else might work for them. So, you know, again, there's something to be said for that group dynamic, and I do really encourage people to go that route for that purpose, but again, it doesn't always work for everybody, and I do like to keep the group small so that, again, it's not like you're in a group 15 people. Six max where I can, again, give that little bit of individual attention, but also facilitate that group dynamic.

Bill: Well, it's nice that you offer the sessions both ways. So, tell me who is a good candidate for this program?

Pam: That's another excellent question. I think anybody who is ready and willing to work with me on either that, you know, one-on-basis or a group session. It could be someone who -- let's say they've been you know -- a woman's who's just had a baby, and has gained, you know, that pre-pregnancy weight and wants to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight and needs that added support. I have older people who a little, you know, ailment, it might be pre-diabetes or they have joint problems, and they really want to age more gracefully, and they want to get more active and, you know, it doesn't matter what time in your life, if you are willing and ready to kind of commit to, you know, making changes, this can be very successful. So, I've had, you know, older women who, again, you know, are interested in getting back to being more active and reducing their risk of weight-related conditions, like diabetes --

Bill: -- um hmm –

Pam: -- or arthritis or heart disease. Those are great candidates as well, and I've had young men who just, again, are inactive and have gained extra weight that are interested in being more fit. They're an appropriate person. The only group that I haven't really designed this program for, I would say, are children and teens. So, any adult from age 20 to 80. [Chuckles]

Bill: You get them all in there. I love it.

Pam: Get them all in there!

Bill: Get them all in there! Alright, Pam, well, thank you for your time and talking to us about the Healthy Weight for Wellness Program. It sounds really interesting, and thank you for all that you do. For more information, you can visit That's This is the Healing Podcast brought to you by Marin General Hospital. I'm Bill Klaproth. Thanks for listening.