When "Just Do It" Isn't Enough: A Team-Supported Weight Loss Program

Weight-related health problems have become an epidemic in the U.S. More than a third of our population is considered overweight, and the South is leading the nation with the highest rates.

Losing weight and living healthily is not always easy—sometimes you need a jumpstart and a team to help you along the way. The Center for Weight Management (CWM) at Gwinnett Medical Center now offers a comprehensive, non-surgical approach to weight loss through the new Medical Weight Loss program.

“The Medical Weight Loss program at GMC uses a multi-disciplinary approach to obesity and recognizes it as a disease,” says Eileen Javellana, MD, medical director for the program. “For most of our patients, it is not a simple equation of too many calories in and not enough calories out.

“This program is a starting point for those who have tried to combat their weight alone or have experienced weight loss in the past only to regain. It sets itself apart by providing specialists in obesity—physicians, nurses, dietitians, exercise therapists, psychologists—who are all very passionate about helping people feel better.”

The program is made up of three phases to encourage participants to make changes toward better health. Using the support of the CWM team, participants are guided to turn those changes into a lifestyle.


“So many of our patients have been on every diet out there with little to no success,” says Jackie Berkovich, dietitian for the program. “In this phase, we take the focus off of choosing foods by providing meal replacements, while working on fitness and eating behaviors. Our team works to help participants develop strategies to live a healthier lifestyle. We want to inspire them to make healthier choices and plant the seeds for change.”

The details: These patients go 12 weeks or more with a structured and medically supervised meal replacement program, as well as weekly group classes designed to break habits and begin replacing them with new and healthy ones. There are two meal replacement options—low calorie (three meal replacement shakes and one structured meal) or very low calorie (four meal replacement products). Weekly classes are facilitated by a psychologist, fitness specialist or dietitian on a rotating schedule. Class topics include the development of healthy behaviors, how to read food labels and exercise and fitness tips.


“Medical weight management can be an ideal option for those who are not interested in surgery but need support,” says Rebecca Gomez, Psy.D., clinical psychologist and behavioral health coordinator at CWM. “With this program, you are supported by medical staff, other program professionals and a community of peers who are in the program with you.”

The details: This is a four-week reintroduction phase. A structured meal plan is provided to help gradually reintroduce food so the body can adjust, both eating solid foods and to new eating habits.


“This program is about attaining a healthier weight that can help either improve or prevent further disease, not just about getting to an ideal body weight,” adds Dr. Javellana. “We all battle weight on a daily basis. This program empowers individuals and provides the tools necessary to keep excess weight off and stay healthy.”

The details: At this point, no meal replacements are used and stability is the key in their new lifestyle. Participants are given the option of attending classes and meeting with providers, but are no longer required to do so.

How GMC Can Help

Change is hard. It’s cliché, but with the right tools and support, you can transform a change into a lifestyle.

The Center for Weight Management at Gwinnett Medical Center is a leader in both medical weight management and bariatric surgery. We offer a multidisciplinary team to work with you throughout your journey to better health, providing medical, dietary, exercise, behavioral and peer support designed to meet your individual needs.


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