Monday Medical: Want to lose weight? Focus on health

Susan Cunningham/For Steamboat Today
Monday Medical

If you go

What: Real Life Weight Management: based on the principles of Real Food

When: 4 to 5 p.m. Thursdays, beginning Sept. 29

Where: Yampa Valley Medical Center

Cost: $225, includes individual health assessment and eight one-hour classes

More information: Visit to learn more. Register early, as class size is limited.

If you’re trying to lose weight, registered dietitian nutritionist Cara Marrs has some bad news and some good news.

The bad news? It takes hard work, and there’s no quick fix.

The good news? The benefits of a healthy lifestyle make it all worth it, and eventually, it’s enjoyable.

“People have busy lives, and they feel overwhelmed and want a quick fix,” Marrs said. “I’m here to tell you that there is no quick fix. Any person who’s ever had success at developing a healthy lifestyle has never done it easily. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable.”

When someone makes the effort to change, he or she can quickly experience a range of benefits.

“What we hear over and over is they just feel better right away,” Marrs said. “They have more energy, and then, they start to see that they look better. And then, down the road, they find maybe they can get off a couple of medications. I have clients who are blown away that they’re actually jogging.”

Marrs, along with registered dietitian nutritionist Laura Stout, are helping people develop healthy lifestyles through Yampa Valley Medical Center’s Real Life Weight Management program. The program, which is based on principles of eating real foods, was designed by Marrs and Stout.

“This is not a canned program,” Marrs said. “This is us. Everything we’ve learned and what we have found has worked for people, that’s what we’re trying to incorporate in the program. We want to give you the tools to go forward.”

One of the first things they point out is that it takes more than a few weeks to change habits that have formed through the course of a lifetime.

“Weight loss is typically focused on this quick fix,” Marrs said. “Taking a pill, drinking a shake or restricting your calories unsustainably can result in a quick weight loss, with a very fast weight gain. People go up, and then, they go down. Yo-yo weight loss is detrimental to your mental and physical health — you’re constantly in this cycle of trying to pursue weight loss and unsuccessfully maintain it.”

These quick-fix techniques can be demoralizing and expensive and can lead to disordered eating habits.

“When you focus on just weight, you go crazy,” Marrs said. “When you focus on health, weight comes off. We want people to eat in a way that’s going to reduce the risk of lifestyle related diseases — diabetes, heart disease, cancer.”

Through Real Life Weight Management, Marrs and Stout cover a range of topics, from carbohydrates and fats, to grocery shopping, mindful eating and exercise. And they don’t skirt the idea that all of it is hard work, especially at first.

“We know it’s very easy to gain, and it’s hard to lose,” Marrs said. “It just has to become part of your day-to-day life, and then, you stop obsessing about it.”

Through the weight-loss journey, people can expect to face plateaus and relapses, and need to know that perfection is not the goal.

“The only thing that matters is consistency,” Marrs said. “You don’t need to be perfect all the time. No one’s perfect all the time. Life’s not perfect.”

And with some hard work, they might be surprised with the results.

“We can give you the tools, but you have to do it yourself,” Marrs said. “It’s not always easy, but you know what? You’re worth it. That’s the most important thing — you are worth it.”

Susan Cunningham writes for Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at

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