St. Dominic's Healthy Weight Advantage offers solution to reaching optimal weight, health

The same complaints are heard every year about this time – Mississippians discussing the
5-10 pounds they packed on during the winter and now must shed before summer arrives. But for many people, extra weight is something they struggle with 365 days a year. Unfortunately, thousands of Mississippians are obese, which means their health and quality of life can be adversely affected, physicians say.    

Surgery may be an option for some people, but for those who don't want surgery or aren’t good candidates for medical reasons, there is another option - St. Dominic's comprehensive meal replacement and lifestyle change program, Healthy Weight Advantage.

The program, now in its third year of assisting Mississippians achieve their weight loss goals, is primarily geared for those who need to lose a substantial amount of weight.

Frank Lovell of Clinton is one of the program’s most notable success stories due to his weight loss of over 200 pounds in 20 months. Now healthy and enjoying the benefits of being "relatively thin in comparison to my former self," Lovell's outlook wasn’t always so positive.

He suffered from a variety of healthy problems including sleep apnea and high cholesterol, coupled with low self-esteem as a result of a weight gain of over 200 pounds. Lovell says he wasn’t always overweight; instead, the numbers on his scales increased slowly as a result of a sedentary lifestyle.

His job as a District Officer at the Mississippi Department of Transportation requires he spend long hours at the computer. Quick trips through the fast food line to pick up lunch and dinner, followed by hours spent relaxing on the couch at night also helped pack on extra pounds. Before long, he weighed 420 pounds, but was powerless to change set habits.

"When you're busy, you don’t realize what you’re doing to yourself until you see pictures or someone says, ‘Haven’t you gained weight?'" said Lovell.  "What some don't realize is nobody wants to be overweight; it happens for a variety of reasons. In my case, I just let the weight pile on and then was powerless to lose and then keep it off."

Over the years, Lovell estimates he tried at least two dozen starvation diets. "I lost weight with each of them, but was so hungry afterwards I gained back at least 20-30 pounds each time," he said. "That's part of the reason for my excessive weight gain."

Packing on 200 or more pounds was enough to cause many health issues, including borderline diabetes. Lovell was required by his family medicine physician to start testing his insulin with a monitor in preparation for a lifetime of needle pricks.

Just as he was becoming resigned to the prospect of an unhealthy future as an obese man, an all-important phone call came into his MDOT office.

"Someone I didn't know - a friend of a friend - called and said he wanted to tell me about a life-changing weight loss program," recalls Lovell. "He told me he had lost a lot of weight with St. Dominic's Healthy Weight Advantage. I admired his courage in calling a complete stranger and figured the program must be really good."

Lovell immediately called St. Dominic's to inquire about the program. As luck would have it, an orientation session was starting the following week. He liked what he heard, signed up and was given a physical to assess his weight loss needs and health issues.

Replacing his diet of fast food with the nutritionally complete and tasty meal replacements that included weight-loss shakes, soups and entrees produced an astounding 15-pound weight loss in the first week, Lovell said. This provided just the right motivation to stay on the program. At 14 weeks, he had dropped 92 pounds, assuring him he was at last "on the right plan" after a lifetime of starvation diets followed by binge eating.

Currently at 224 pounds, he's determined to lose a few more pounds. With the help of St. Dominic's dietitian Laura Hartlein, who Lovell calls, "my angel and salvation during the entire process," he plans to slowly taper off the meal replacements to a regular diet of healthy food.

St. Dominic's Healthy Weight Advantage program offers a full range of options designed to help people lose 10 to more than 200 pounds, said Nancie Jones, RN, Interim Coordinator of the program. While it can be utilized by those who only wish to lose a few pounds, the medically supervised option is designed for people who want to lose a significant amount of weight - typically more than 30 pounds -  in a short amount of time.

"Our team, which includes Internal Medicine Physician Ralph Sulser, MD; registered nurses and dietitians and our support staff approaches the task of weight loss with a commitment that goes well beyond traditional weight management plans," said Jones. "We're different from other programs due to the amount of weight loss possible, along with the speed of weight loss, the lifestyle education, level of personal attention and the comprehensive maintenance program."

Jones said 100% of the daily value for recommended vitamins and minerals is included in each of the three options in the program. Participants can be assured they are getting the nutrition needed to maintain optimal health. The options include:

  • Medically supervised low or very low calorie and decision free program, which promotes rapid and significant weight loss under medical supervision. This plan is ideal for those who need to lose 30 pounds or more, or for those whose health requires medical monitoring. The average weight loss is 55-60 pounds.
  • Healthy solutions, a moderate plan offered with or without medical supervision. The average weight loss is 35-40 pounds.
  • HMR at-home kits, chosen by Lovell as the best fit for his lifestyle, are convenient kits that include Health Management Resources (HMR) meal replacements and comprehensive support materials for at-home weight loss. This plan is available with or without additional phone support. 

"With St. Dominic's Healthy Weight Advantage, participants do more than just learn how to lose weight," said Jones."From the first day in the program, we teach specific strategies that will help participants keep the weight off after completing the program.  In effect, weight-maintenance techniques are built into the plan."

St. Dominic's program makes losing weight easier through the use of the portion-controlled food and beverages. There are no complicated food lists, extensive food preparation or extra food shopping. Everything needed for weight loss is "right in the box," according to Lovell, who said he had abandoned more complicated or time-consuming diet programs.

“I had no excuses this time. I didn’t need to grocery shop or go to a restaurant for my meals; everything was right in the box,” said Lovell. “It was the simplest plan I’ve ever tried.”

Another important benefit of St. Dominic's Healthy Weight Advantage is the staff not only helps participants lose weight, but teaches skills needed to make more healthy choices that can help maintain their weight loss and contribute to life-long health.

“Using the diet plans Laura has created for me, I know I’ll have no trouble moving from this food into regular meals,” said Lovell. “This time, I won’t gain back the weight. I am totally confident of that. I’m looking forward to a long life as a healthy, fit person.”

To sign up for a free, no obligation information session, call (601) 200-6099. St. Dominic’s Healthy Weight Advantage staff will present all of the program’s options and provide a complete overview of the weight loss program.