MARQUETTE - As the new year unfolds, an ever-popular resolution is losing weight. It's the steps taken to achieving this goal however, that often trip up new year enthusiasts. And one way of combating plateaus and road-blocks is as simple as scheduling an appointment with your local dietitian.
"The scope of our practice has really grown," said Michele Boehmer, a registered dietitian at Marquette General Hospital. "Diet is a small segment. It's all about overall wellness."
She, along with Pam Roose who is the director of Corporate Health and Wellness at MGH, said dietitians can be found in multiple avenues including schools, hospitals and corporate facilities, such as Econo Foods where Boehmer offers her services as a wellness coach once a week.
Katie Freeborn from Gwinn exercises at the YMCA in Marquette. Those seeking to improve their health need to incorporate both exercise and nutrition in order to be successful. (Journal file photo)
Roose said dietitians are often misconstrued with nutritionists. While anyone can call themselves a nutritionists, a dietitian must complete a four-year bachelor's degree, an internship and pass an exam. In addition, every five years a dietitian must complete 75 credits in order to keep up-to-date with the latest information in their field.
Roose said the most prevalent issue she sees individuals seeking dietitians for is weight loss. To help those facing weight loss concerns, dietitians focus on the balance between exercise and nutrition.
"If you exercise, but eat whatever you want, you're not going to see that desired final result," Roose noted. "People don't balance the two and then wonder why they aren't losing weight and then they give up."
She emphasized that the body is smart and when, for example, the body does not take in enough calories, it will go into "starvation mode" and hang onto excess calories instead of burning them. She added that everyone focuses on weight, but that is only one piece of the puzzle.
When asked about those who are concerned that living a healthier lifestyle may cost more, such as going to the gym or buying healthier food, Roose compared it to many of the everyday luxuries we enjoy.
"People don't cringe at buying a bag of potato chips for $4, but a bag of grapes for the same price they won't pay for."
She added that those who are undecided about visiting a local dietitian due to the cost should compare it with getting a haircut. The costs would be similar but the outcome of seeing a dietitian may result in a more sustainable healthy lifestyle.
When a person schedules an assessment with a dietitian, Roose said the client will be asked to record what foods they have eaten for the few days previous to the appointment. During the meeting, dietitians focus on what the client wants, whether it be losing weight or adapting to a low-fat diet.
Additionally, Roose said they have started focusing on using food for medicine, such as ginger root for acid reflux.
"As we evolved we steered away from using natural remedies and just taking a pill when something hurts," Boehmer said.
Aside from working with individuals on their health goals, dietitians have been assigned to each region for the Healthy Lifestyle Journal: Community Wellness Challenge 2013 and will assist in balancing exercise and nutrition and impressing upon participants the importance of taking their goals and breaking them into smaller obtainable goals one step at a time.
"The reason the challenge has been so popular is because it's simplified," Boehmer said.
"Move more and eat more fruits and veggies. They (challenge participants) can do that."
To learn more about the role of dietitians in a healthy lifestyle, visit ww4.mgh.org/wellnessCenter/. The Healthy Lifestyle Journal meets each week with four education nights and four activity nights for each region. Meeting times are 6 to 7 p.m. Thursdays at the Gwinn Clubhouse in Gwinn; 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays in The Empire Room of Bell Hospital in Ishpeming; 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays in the Nelberg Building- 3rd Floor Gym at Marquette General Hospital in Marquette; and from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the West End YMCA in Negaunee. For more information about the Healthy Lifestyle Journal, call 225-3221.
Abbey Hauswirth can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.