We all know that one person who brings her own containers of food to restaurants and turns down the birthday cake served at office parties. And since it’s part of our culture to take other people’s food choices personally, that person is usually ostracized and eventually shunned by her community (or at least it feels that way). With all the social pressures that can surround food consumption, a lifestyle change directed towards health and wellbeing is a full-time commitment that requires making hundreds of difficult decisions throughout the day. Anything from stress to a special occasion can be used to justify making an unhealthy choice.
As most people who have tried to lose weight know, it’s tough to do it alone. Cohen’s Lifestyle Centre has helped overweight and obese clients lose weight through personalized nutrition programs since 2009. Developed by Dr. Rami Cohen, the Cohen’s Lifestyle Program prescribes food as “medicine” to address the hormonal imbalance that causes obesity and obesity-related diseases. The program starts with a personalized eating plan based on blood chemistry, followed by a two- to three-week refeeding stage that introduces new and richer foods to the diet based on blood test results, and finally a maintenance stage with management guidelines to help prevent weight gain.
Cohen’s Lifestyle Centre Philippines gathered Cohen “graduates”-turned-ambassadors to share their success stories and the challenges they faced during their weight loss journeys. Though most cited better health as a reason for starting the Cohen program, they also admitted that vanity played a part. For Eric Valera, it was watching himself in a TV interview. Tasha Santos, a digital PR executive for Benefit Cosmetics undergoing the first stage of the program, said that she had trouble choosing photos of herself to post on social media that reflected the way she wanted to look. Carmela Tanjangco wanted to lose some stubborn post-pregnancy pounds while recovering from a knee injury operation that stopped her from working out.
Some ambassadors were battling serious health issues. David Kahn, who experienced the most dramatic weight change (from 339 pounds to 154), said that he used to wake up in the middle of the night because he had stopped breathing. “My brain was telling me to wake up because I lacked oxygen.” Aside from life-threatening sleep apnea, he also had difficulty tying his shoes and finding clothes that fit. When he decided to make a change, the rapid results of the personalized nutrition plan and support from other Cohen advocates motivated him to “trust the program.”
For Allan Elgar, guitarist for True Faith, the hardest part of the Cohen program was preparing all of his meals days in advance when his band played out-of-town gigs. The restrictive diet also clashed with his working hours as a musician, especially when he would finish all of his meals before going onstage and he had to watch his band mates eat heavy meals and drink alcohol late into the night.
Though Cohen executives warn that the program is “not for everyone,” especially individuals who are constantly on the go and don’t have time to prepare their own meals, Elgar made it work through commitment and time management. To make it easier for busy clients (and to address the growing problem of diet delivery programs that falsely claim to be affiliated with the Cohen brand), CLC now offers Cohen Meals on Wheels – the only official meal delivery program for Cohen’s Lifestyle Program. For the month of February, CLC is offering a Cohen Jump Start Bundle that gives clients one week free Cohen Meals on Wheels delivery if they pay for the Full Cohen’s Lifestyle Program in cash.
Since every client will experience his own individual struggles from the first stage to the maintenance stage, CLC offers a support program with follow-up consultations with Cohen advocates who have successfully undergone the program themselves. There’s also a Facebook group where people in different stages of the program share stories, wellness tips, and food posts to motivate others in the community. CLC chief executive officer Barbara Young (who has maintained her weight loss from the Cohen program for nine years even after two pregnancies) says that community support is key for long-term success. With more people expected to join the program hoping for better health in 2016, the Cohen community’s support system will only grow stronger.
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