When it comes to weight management, Dr. Troy Schumann can safely say he really knows what he’s talking about. The St. Elizabeth Weight Management Center physician has not only undergone specialty training in bariatric medicine, but he was once clinically obese himself. In fact, he’s so interested in the field that today he’s in the process of becoming a certified bariatrician.
In other words, Troy Schumann understands the problem his patients face on both a personal and professional level. But it’s his personal experience – perhaps more than any other – that has given him special insight into both the frustration of being overweight and the very real health risks of do-it-yourself dieting.
"Before I received specialty training in bariatrics – when I was just out of my medical residency – my weight was in the obese range. And even though I was a physician, I was still looking for that magical answer," he recalls.
"So I just picked up the biggest fad diet going and I lost a lot of weight. But I also got kidney stones five times and had to have surgery for them. That really opened my eyes about the serious risks dieting can pose if you go about it the wrong way."
Today, Schumann puts his considerable professional and personal experience to work daily to help patients at the Florence center trim down and get healthy safely and successfully. But, he knows many considering such a program have lots of concerns. Dr. Schumann has answered some of the most common questions many people ask when considering whether St. Elizabeth’s program is right for them.
Q: Why should someone choose to seek your help through the program at St. Elizabeth to achieve their weight loss goals?
A: We are dedicated solely to treating conditions of overweight and obesity, and their related illnesses. To accomplish that, we have a full array of medical professionals who specialize in weight management, including registered dietitians, nurses, exercise specialists, and specialists in behavioral health.
We spend considerable time working with our patients individually to educate and change behaviors that they can develop into permanent lifestyle changes. We’re not just looking at the number on the scale.
Q: What do you mean when you say you "don’t just look at the number on the scale"?
A: It means successful weight management requires that we look at everything going on in each patient’s life. So, we perform blood work and other necessary tests to obtain critical information about things like your body fat percentage and lean muscle mass. But, we also work to determine whether you have any eating disorders or stressors that might trigger your dietary intake, or medical conditions that might inhibit weight loss.
We look at your situation from many different angles to achieve the best results for overall health. We really focus on long-term success through weight maintenance after weight loss.
The only way to keep weight off is by incorporating behavior and lifestyle changes into your everyday life, including regular exercise as a key element. And, we continue to work with our patients during maintenance, reinforcing what they learned during their weight loss program and offering needed support to keep them on track.
Q: Do you only help people with very large amounts of weight to lose?
A: We can help anyone, from individuals who may need only to lose 10 pounds, to those who are severely obese. We offer a lot of different options. Most of the people who come to see us have already been on every diet known to man, but when they come here we’re going to build a program that is specially suited for their needs and situation.
Q: What types of concerns and questions do people ask initially?
A: The No. 1 thing people ask me is, "Do you prescribe medications?" Everybody’s looking for the magic pill, but there just isn’t one. Though some medications can help, we really want to find the underlying problems you’re having and then correct them.
One other big question is, "Why am I overweight anyway?" Some people want to know why they’re working so hard and eating all the right things, but they’re still overweight. They’re very frustrated.
So we look to see if they have certain health, medication or other issues that might be contributing to weight gain. Then we work with their physicians to figure out how to target the problems to optimize their efforts for the best results, but always with safety in mind.
Q: Obviously, it takes a lot of effort from the patient to succeed, but you’ve seen a lot of people do just that. Tell me about the pay-offs.
A: Oh, the pay-offs are tremendous. You see them in the numbers when their cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose levels drop and they can reduce or even eliminate their medications. And sometimes people need to lose 200-300 pounds and they’ve been wheelchair-bound for years – they may never think they’re going to progress out of that chair, much less exercise. But they do, and you see them feeling better and better, both physically and emotionally about themselves. Their lives are tremendously improved. I know. I’ve been there, too.
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