Episode 12: Ask Me Anything Live | Dr. Simonds & Michelle Kennedy, NP-C

Dr. Simonds and Michelle Kennedy, NP-C are back answering your weight loss questions from the Raleigh office at Dr. Simonds Metabolic and Weight Loss.

Q: What made you decide to go into Obesity Medicine and what keeps you motivated to stay in the field?

A: Dr. Simonds’ answer: It wasn’t really one reason why he decided to go into this field and was really a combination of things. Dr. Simonds was an emergency medicine physician and that was what he was doing when he developed an interest in obesity medicine. While working in the emergency room, you see a lot of people that have medical conditions that could have been prevented. He felt that there really wasn’t anything being done in the medical community for obesity. Patients were basically left to just figure it out for themselves, such as through their own research or will power.

As a physician working long hours, Dr. Simonds was actually gaining weight himself. He didn’t realize that there were any medical solutions for his weight gain other than figuring it out for himself. He realized that something needed to be done. This began his journey of specializing in obesity medicine and finds this to be a very engaging field.

Obesity medicine can prevent a lot of future medical problems, thus decreasing visits to the emergency department. Dr. Simonds finds that obesity medicine is a very stimulating field to be in on an intellectual level as it continues to grow and evolve.  He has been an obesity medicine specialist for 16 years now and his practice has helped thousands of patients with successful weight loss.

A: Michelle’s answer: Just like Dr. Simonds, Michelle’s journey to obesity medicine also wasn’t linear. She began her career as a registered nurse in the surgical unit in a small hospital in Pennsylvania for about 1 year. During this time, she decided to continue her education and received her master’s degree as a nurse practitioner. After graduation, Michelle decided to move to North Carolina.

At dinner, she happened to meet another nurse practitioner, Alison that worked at Dr. Simonds Metabolics and Weight Loss. Interestingly, Michelle didn’t even know that this field of medicine existed because this is not something that is taught in nursing school.

Michelle was very intrigued by this field, especially since it focuses on preventative care. While working in the surgical unit prior, she saw so many patients coming in for the same issues that were associated with diabetes, cardiovascular conditions and even orthopedic issues that were all weight and lifestyle-related. In the hospital, you don’t treat the underlying causes and instead just patch them up and send them on their way. This is why Michelle finds obesity medicine so rewarding and enjoys focusing on preventative care. Michelle has been an obesity medicine specialist for over 8 years now.

Q: What do you say to those that are critical to taking medications for weight loss?

A: There really is a stigma around the idea of taking medication for weight loss. It’s really hard to believe that society has an issue with weight loss medications as our society will take medicine for almost anything. “There’s a pill for that” is a very common theme in healthcare today and obesity is also a serious medical condition and should be treated as such.

Obesity is not a character flaw and people do not choose to be obese. Obesity is a disease and patients should never be blamed for having a weight issue. There are distinct biology and physiology behind the disease of obesity. Taking weight loss medications does not mean that you have a character flaw or that you are weak or have a deficit of will power. We have found that patients are hard enough on themselves and believe that they should be able to lose weight without help or medication. But, obesity is a physiological disease that has hormonal and neurochemical changes happening in the body. Obesity affects every organ system in the body and has a huge impact on the entire body.

Also, it’s important to note that medication does not do the work for you and it’s not a miracle. It is a part of a whole, well-balanced treatment plan that makes it easier for patients to execute the plans that we provide at the office. We do have an onsite pharmacy at both office locations that can dispense weight loss medications to you. As a patient at our practice, we also evaluate all of the medications that you are taking, as we find that many common medications actually contribute to obesity.

Q: What is the best way to determine if someone is obese? What does your practice use to determine this?

A: It’s important to recognize that obesity is not just a disease of weight. Obesity a disease of excess body fat. Your body fat is actually an organ in itself and behaves a certain way. You can actually be a thinner person of normal weight, but have this disease if you have excess body fat.

There are so many co-morbidities that obesity causes, such as diabetes and other inflammatory conditions that those patients who visually look thinner, but have a higher body fat percentage are at risk of. We determine this for you at our practice.

The goal is to reduce body fat and change body composition. Remember, if it was easy we would all be thin and athletic. This is also why we use medication as a tool to help patients adhere to their personalized weight loss plans that we provide. It’s also important to not judge someone by their appearance. An athletic-looking, thin person can still have high cholesterol, cardiovascular conditions, high blood pressure and other health ailments.

Q: Does CBD oil help with weight loss?

A: We carry the Naternal brand of CBD products that comes in salves, butters, creams and tinctures. As of now, there isn’t any solid, scientific evidence to support this. However, we have found some positive side effects of using these products. CBD does act on the appetite receptors and those that regularly use CBD products consume fewer calories and have a decrease in cravings and inflammation. There is published, documented evidence that CBD improves moods and improves aches, pains and sleep. We do believe that CBD can be helpful and we do encourage patients to give it a try.

Naternal is a high-quality brand that is made right here in North Carolina. We are actually going to be rolling out some new CBD products this week that have a higher concentration of one of the cannabinoids that helps with better sleep.

Q: Is it safe to stay on weight loss medication for extended periods of time?

A: YES! The disease of having excess body fat and its consequences is not something that is understood how to cure. We can properly treat the disease of obesity and put it into remission, but the long term physiological changes that happen when someone is at a higher weight does not go away. Due to chemical changes, the body will try to push you back up into the higher weight. This is why many people regain the weight that was lost.

The FDA has approved 3 recent medications for obesity that are actually approved for lifetime use. Even some of the older medications that we use are considered safe and effective for long-term use and there is medical evidence that proves this.

Q: How successful has your practice been with working with diabetic patients?

A: We work with many diabetic patients and have a great track record with this. We teach dietary methods and prescribe medications for those patients. We can certainly help patients with diabetes and are very experienced in this condition.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment and get started on your weight loss journey!