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Stop, Gain Perspective and Refocus: a Look at Residential Weight-loss Programs

by Michael Cartwright

Spring 2011

Doing a full overhaul of someone’s life and creating permanent lifestyle changes is the key. But, where and how to begin is always the overwhelming question everyone faces when looking to get on the road to recovery.

The ideal solution for those looking to redirect their lives and get a real grip on what is going on is to attend a comprehensive residential weight-loss facility.

We all know there is not a quick, long-lasting fix for weight-loss. Millions of people with extreme amounts of weight to lose have tried every method available to them (diet, weight-loss pills, fasting, exercise and surgery). Typically, as research shows, most gain the weight back and then some.

With the extensive media coverage that obesity and food addiction are receiving, it is becoming apparent to most that obesity is not just overeating, but an outward showing of internal strain. Nearly a dozen television shows have aired throughout the last couple of years presenting story lines of those struggling with obesity and food addiction. One common thread is that all have to do a great deal of work internally before they will see lasting change with their weight.

Lasting change will be created when individuals:
  • Are taught about their triggers
  • Dig into what trauma that may have happened in their life that allowed food to become the coping mechanism
  • Learn about the foods they are consuming and why they are so detrimental to their health
  • Realize that they have to adopt some sort of exercise program
Residential Weight-loss Programs

Committing to a program in a comprehensive residential weight-loss facility is a great way to remove yourself from your daily life and become immersed in a community that is there 24 hours a day to support you on every level. This is the perfect setting for those wanting to embark on a total wellness journey.

Residential weight-loss facilities are often all inclusive where the client receives guidance in every area of life to help them address their weight. Those who choose this course of action, when looking to make a change, realize the benefits and much-needed support that comes with a program like this, which is critical for someone looking to completely redirect their entire life.

What Residential Weight-loss Programs Entail

The key motivation for most individuals is to go to a place that is equipped to handle their specific need, as food addiction and the recovery process is different than for someone dealing with another type of addictive behavior. Once committed to the program, individuals will have jam-packed days that are filled with therapy sessions, dietary and cooking lessons, exercise training programs, detoxing, meetings with medical staff and various activities, all of which are intended to launch the person into full recovery.

Taking Time for You and Learning New Things

Some individuals struggling with obesity believe that allowing yourself time to step away, reflect and realize certain key moments that may have caused the issues and behavior patterns they live with, as well as being taught a new way of living, is the key to long-term success. Exhausting all efforts to lose the weight and change your life is important before exploring other options for weight-loss.

By attending a weight-loss retreat, individuals will establish new patterns of living while at the retreat, allowing for real change to take place. Often times there is a full exit strategy and follow-up program designed specifically for the individual that they can adhere to once returning home. Not to mention, the relationships and supportive bonds that are established among those at the retreat are very valuable. Many factors of a program like this will allow the rate of success to be higher than other programs where you are left to do it on your own.

There are several styles of wellness retreats in the marketplace today. The visits can range from a 3-day weekend to a full 30-day program, and sometimes even longer. Some are more focused on behavior modification and direct counseling while others put more of an emphasis on exercise and correcting eating and behavior patterns.

Whichever style meets the interest of the individual, attending a weight-loss retreat is sure to be a great resource in creating permanent and lasting change.

About the Author:
Michael Cartwright is a noted behavioral health entrepreneur and an avid fitness enthusiast. He has experienced first-hand the dramatic transformation that can be possible through healthy exercise, nutrition and total lifestyle change when he lost 60 pounds in five months. Michael is the founder and former chief executive officer of Foundations Associates, where he oversaw the transformation of thousands of individuals and families who struggled with addiction. As a noted member of the behavioral health care community, Michael has served on the Senate Help Sub-committee on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services and as a member of Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Planning and Policy Council.


This is the personal perspective.
A First-hand Look at Residential Weight-loss Programs
To view a PDF version of this story, click here.

My Journey to Health and Wellness
by Suzanne Sanders

Timing is everything. This is so true when it comes to making a decision to change something in your life. I believe one of the most overwhelming decisions a person can face is to finally decide it is time to get their health in order and do whatever it takes.

As a woman in my early 30’s, I have dealt with weight issues most of my life. However, the 20-30 extra pounds recently turned into 80-100 extra pounds. Through the course of a couple major life changes, including the death of my father, a transition with work and the loss of a dear friendship, food became my comfort.

I knew I was not in a good place and needed some time to just work on me, as most of my life I have been doing things for others. A friend referred me to a wellness retreat (residential weight-loss program) just outside of Nashville, TN. I had always thought I could do what was needed in the comfort of my own home and city. However, to think that I could get away where no one knew me, go somewhere to completely let all of it go and work to find my joy again seemed just the perfect opportunity.

“Me” Time
I had never before taken time for me, to deal just with me. I was excited about the idea of having a schedule that I did not have to set, but just follow along. All of the meals were taken care of and activities, including behavior therapy, were scheduled. A medical doctor oversaw the entire program. I arranged my schedule and committed to the 28-day program.

It took about three days to get settled in this new routine with people I didn’t know. The group was comprised of great people from all throughout the country and we bonded quickly. Every hour of each day was scheduled – exercising, learning about food and learning how the food I was eating could really harm or repair my body. We spent a lot of time learning about our behavior patterns and triggers. We all had to dig deep into some very personal spaces to find out why we turn to food to deal with life, both the good and the bad. I enjoyed this part, as I really wanted to get to the root of why I was making certain decisions regarding food choices and the amount I was consuming.

Not Your Same-old Nutrition and Exercise Routine
Through the course of my stay, I learned how to cook in a new way. Some of the food I was eating on a regular basis was fine, but needed to be prepared differently so the caloric and fat intake was less. I was taught about the foods I had to avoid. I was introduced to new foods that I had never heard of, some that would help to heal the body and repair the damage I had caused. Learning what is out there so I can make an informed decision in my daily living was one of my favorite parts of the program.

Training everyday made me feel so alive. It cleared my mind and I felt strong. We were trained by an Olympic athlete who took the time to teach us. All of the trainers were patient and supportive. I worked out on my own and with trainers through various seasons of my life; however, this time around I learned new methods and basic training. I was introduced to water aerobics and hot yoga – certainly not your standard “go to the gym and lift weights” routine I was accustomed to. To end each week, we all received a full hour-long massage.

Behavioral Breakthroughs

The behavior therapy was essential for me. There were so many enlightening moments through our times of discussion. I was able to think back and see the patterns in my life that had put me in the position I was in. I became aware of myself and the choices I would normally make. I cannot continue to numb feelings with food or for that matter, even celebrate feelings with food. This is still a work in process but getting better.

Finally, the blood work panel that was collected prior to my arrival showed a couple deficiencies in certain areas that were tied to some of my weight gain. The medical director got me started right away on a protocol that within a couple weeks, we could see notable change.

Coming Full-circle
To go away, and stop all of the movement around you from your normal daily life allows you to gain a perspective that I believe is hard to find when you are living out your day-to-day routine. Attending this wellness retreat was the best decision I could have made to help me get on the road to total wellness. I received the tools necessary to make permanent change in my life.

Included in my graduation package were a total fitness assessment, customized diet plan, medical evaluation and personal health dossier. I am so grateful to the team that circled around me and supported me every step of the way. I have plans to go back once a quarter and stay for a week or two, which will help keep me accountable and on track.

About the Author:
Suzanne Sanders is a 33 year old single woman who owns her own business. She enjoys traveling around the world, playing tennis and sailing.

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