By Bryan Hendrickson, MD, MS, MSHM
Today, I would like to showcase one of our interdisciplinary programs to help patients make healthy lifestyle changes to manage weight.
Our “Smart Enjoyable Eating”, or SEE program is co-led by a nutritionist, a clinical psychologist, and a family medicine physician resident at each visit. The focus is on education and setting goals using the “SMART” mnemonic to move towards better weight management. The program is available for patients at a low cost and includes 8 weeks of once weekly lessons focused on learning factors involved in diet and exercise behaviors and successful planning to make desired lifestyle changes.
Earlier this year I enjoyed the opportunity to conduct some of these sessions. I quickly learned that the key was facilitating conversation, rather than jumping into an instructor role. At the beginning of each session, group members report on their progress in terms of how successful they were in achieving their SMART goal of the week (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely). We then review a lesson topic of the day focused on behaviors, thoughts, and emotions tied to eating, with tips on thoughtful and proactive planning in addressing these. We then take time for each person to set a new goal for the next week.
Rather than goals set on pounds lost, or treadmill miles logged, the most success came from goals that were geared towards implementing thoughtful planning. For example, one week, a person’s goal was to prepare healthy snacks 3 times during the coming week to take to work. That way when a craving was encountered, the snacks were already there and a healthy food choice became the effortless default. Another participant shared how meal planning during the week had prompted conversations at home about having meals together as a family and working together to plan and shop for healthy meals as a family.
What was most inspiring after the few weeks I spent with this group, was watching participants gain a sense of control and hope over managing their weight. At the end of the 8 weeks of setting goals, and often achieving “SMART” goals, there was a sense of empowerment, and excitement, in taking what was learned in the class forward.
I am grateful for the opportunities we have as physicians to help our patients make positive changes in their life, and especially for those like our SEE program, that facilitate my own improved action, and proactive planning, towards health and wellness.
Patients can call 801-581-2000 to schedule at the Sugar House Health Center