We are often asked why we go through all the trouble of IRB protocol approval, put in the weeks of work needed to analyze data, write and submit abstracts, design poster presentations, and present data at medical meetings. It requires a lot of time, a ton of analysis and writing, and more than a little bit of financial investment. The answer to the question of ‘why’ is rooted in the scientific foundations of our program. The 20Lighter Program is not just another weight loss program. Our goal from day 1 has been to assist clients in rebuilding their overall health. Yes, weight is a part of that, but it is not the whole story.
Dr. Dembrowski’s long history of patient interaction taught him that wellness was not just a function of the scale being at a certain number, but the whole picture of how a person was feeling… aches and pains, medications (and side effects of medications), sleep (quantity & quality), mental clarity, mood and self image. We worked together to produce a program that, to our very best ability, could address as many of these parts of the whole as possible. And at every step in the process we would get feedback from colleagues that the ‘diet’ and ‘weight loss’ industry is one big gimmick and you will be classified as another ‘fad diet’, that it takes pharmacologic therapy to walk a person back from the brink of disease and tissue damage, that overweight people just lack discipline and don’t want real help, and that if people just learned to put down the fork things would be different.
But what we found to be true in our discussions with clients and our exhaustive review of the scientific literature on almost every aspect of weight, metabolic, and disease processes was that only ONE of those commonly held beliefs by our colleagues was partly true. The weight loss industry is for sure full of gimmicks, but we work every day to distance ourselves from the industry whose main goal is to generate money by keeping those consumers hooked on their diet products or group meetings or subscriptions.
Over the past 3 years we have seen with our own eyes that a cross-discipline approach that embraces a return to freshly prepared foods focusing on good nutrition and natural (homeopathic) means of reducing inflammation- not another pill being pushed by a pharmaceutical company- can have clinically relevant and long lasting impact. Our clients are educated and shown what needs to be done for them to see improvements in how they look, how they feel, and in their health overall. As they prove to themselves that they can have a dramatic impact in a relatively short period of time without adding more medications, without having weight loss surgery, and eating prepackaged foods and shakes that confidence builds and what may have seemed like an impossible journey previously is now looking do-able.
On our program we have proven that our colleagues are holding some pretty significant misconceptions. So while we work to spread the word to our clients about their ability to change their situation and their lives, we also work to educate our colleagues. Our labor of love in preparing data for presentation is important for many reasons with two being the standouts. First and foremost, we want to show our colleagues the progress and results that can be achieved when you take the time to put together a program that addresses issues underlying the cause(s) of weight gain and of metabolic disease, that teaches clients what those underlying issues are, what triggers them, and works to establish good healthy habits long after their program is finished. You would be surprised how many health professionals have come to our posters and been blow away by our data…
Them: Your attrition rate must be ridiculous? Us: No, over 95% of those who start our program complete it.
Them: You must have excluded a ton of people. Us: No, our only contraindications are pregnancy or breastfeeding, current treatment for cancer, major organ transplant with immunosuppressive drugs, schizophrenia, or being over 70 with three or more CV comorbidities.
Them: Wow, that’s a really average looking baseline demographic. Us: Yes, our average client is 54 years old with a BMI of 34, and takes 3 daily prescription medications. Our program works for the real average person.
Them: This is the first data I have seen at this meeting looking at reduction of visceral fat in a weight loss program. Us: Well, we thought it would be critical to gauge the important surrogates of disease as best we could. Makes you wonder what real benefit beyond weight reduction other programs are actually having, doesn’t it?
Physician or health professional referrals account for one third of our clientele. In almost all cases those referrals come from docs who have had other patients go through our program and be successful or those docs themselves have gone through our program and been successful. Nothing is more convincing than seeing results firsthand.
The second reason we do these analyses and presentations is because it informs us on how our clients have done on program historically. This allows us to share solid data-driven information with clients concerned or focused on specific aspects relevant to them. I have type 2 diabetes what can I expect for results? Will my antidepressant medication impact my ability to do well on 20Lighter? The more we understand how specific groups of clients do versus our clients as a whole, the better we can talk with prospective clients about how they will benefit from the program based on actual data, unlike other programs who rely on generalities and shrug off questions and addressing specific concerns with ‘oh yes our clients do great’ and avoid providing meaningful responses. 20Lighter takes the health and well being of our clients incredibly seriously, and we feel understanding- in a granular way- how our clients perform and what co-morbidities impact their ability to do well is of significant importance.
You might get the feeling that the 20Lighter Program is not like other weight loss program- perhaps we are a ‘horse of a different color’. You are 100% right- we actively work to NOT be like other programs. We feel being different, having unique goals and being vocal about that is just who we are. While the weight loss industry may be about those companies with household names doing well, 20Lighter is about doing good, with a strong focus on our clients doing well.