HEALTH MATTERS: Hollywood publicist loses weight and gains confidence

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It’s been said that age is just a number. The same can be said about weight. The key is to remember that health isn’t about numbers — on the scale or the size of your clothes.

It’s safe to say that the majority of the population is obsessed about weight loss, especially when you are in the public eye. Hollywood publicist Melissa Harvey is used to lights, camera and action as she steps out with her celebrity clients. The battle with her weight, at 262 pounds, caused her to lose confidence and prefer to be “behind the scenes” and stand in the shadow of her clients’ “red carpet” moments.

Typically, January is a natural starting point for personal transformation from weight loss to relationship and careers. The last week of January is earmarked as National Healthy Weight Week to promote healthy living at every size. The focus of National Healthy Weight Week is to respect and embrace size diversity and acknowledge that size prejudice is hurtful for yourself and others.

Harvey’s feeling of being invisible interfered with going on dates and pursuing a relationship with her crush. She stepped out of her comfort zone and went public on the reality show “Revenge Body with Khloe Kardasian” with the intent to transform a shadow to a shining star.

“I chose to go on the show “Revenge Body” because I needed help to make a change in the way that I lived my personal life as far as eating and working out,” Harvey said. “I also knew that there were a lot of people that would be able to relate to how I felt, as far as how I was seen by men, even if they didn’t have the courage to say it.”

It wasn’t just the body image that was a concern for Harvey.

“As quiet as it’s kept, I was prediabetic when I started the show,” Harvey admitted. “My doctor told me that I needed to lose weight, so that I wouldn’t get diabetes. At 28 years old, that’s a problem.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, prediabetes means that blood sugar level is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes affects adults and children.

To stop progressing to type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes are necessary. Prediabetes can also show signs of damage to the heart, blood vessels and kidneys.

Lifestyle changes include eating healthy foods, daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight.

Signs and symptoms of prediabetes may not be prevalent. One possible sign that you may be at risk of type 2 diabetes is darkened skin on certain parts of the body, such as the neck, armpits, elbows, knees and knuckles. Harvey was treated for darken skin on her back.

“I had high blood sugar and was overweight,” she said.

Other signs and symptoms that suggest progression to type 2 diabetes include blurred vision, fatigue, frequent urination and increased thirst.

To avoid becoming diabetic, Harvey quickly learned to change her eating habits.

“I started eating every three hours to boost my metabolism, started drinking a gallon of water every day, and stopped eating out as much,” she said. “If I do eat out, I don’t eat as much and I try to eat the healthier option, like salad or proteins and no bread or dairy. Also, I had to practice not to over eat.”

Body Mass Index (BMI) is the numerical value of weight in relation to height. A BMI between 18.5 and 25 indicates a normal weight. Underweight is a BMI of less than 18.5. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. Obese is a BMI of 30 or higher. (Source: American Heart Association)

It wasn’t easy for Harvey to fit in a workout schedule.

“My challenge was my work schedule and not having time. Working out and eating healthy is a lifestyle change,” she said. “I had to make time, when there was no time to meal prep and work out even if that meant waking up at 5:30 a.m. to work out before I started work.”

She confessed that her other challenge was Mexican food, French fries, cheese and bread.

“It was hard giving up my favorite foods to lose the weight,” Harvey said.

“Once I got into a routine, working out was easy. After two weeks, your body craves the work out,” she said. “Having a good looking trainer, Corey Calliet, also helped!” Harvey lost 37 pounds in 12 weeks.

Source: Visiting Nurse Association

The National Weight Control Registry reports that people who kept the weight off formed the following habits: ate breakfast every day, exercised, on average, about one hour per day, watched less than 10 hours of TV per week, and stepped on a scale at least once a week to keep an eye on their weight.

Harvey has maintained her weight through the 60-day challenge.

“The 60-day challenge is an opportunity for people to come together and help each other get healthy across the nation,” Harvey said. “It’s about holding each other accountable and encouragement.”

She asked her friends to send her videos of their favorite exercise, give her words of encouragement, tips to dieting, weight management or fitness product suggestions, workout mixes, or anything that would help her on this life-long fitness journey.

A study by Stanford University School of Medicine found that 63 percent of individuals who had a positive body image were more successful at losing and maintaining weight for a year compared to a 26 percent success rate for those who were discontent with their bodies.

“It is a not a sprint it’s a long marathon,” said Vanessa Rissetto, a registered dietitian for six years and an advocate for healthy weight loss. “I try to get people to focus on behavioral change such as exchange drinking sodas several times a day to one drink a day and gradually decrease the daily intake.”

Rissetto says, “Eventually, you won’t miss the soda because you are conditioning yourself to live without it without feeling deprived.”

Rissetto recommends that people should set achievable goals, and be realistic. If you gained 40 pounds over a year, conservatively it could take six months to lose it in healthy way.

“When expectations are high, a quick fix is not the answer,” she said. “It is an investment in re-learning a healthier way to live. I tell people that they have 35 chances a week to eat well. If you can do that at least 32 times, then you should be able to lose or maintain a healthy weight based on five-meal a day plan that is balanced, such as less sugar, less processed foods and more natural foods.”

With the help of Kardashian and Calliet, Harvey has claimed the spotlight for herself.

“It is often the care takers that need the caring for, even when we don’t make it known,” Harvey said. “Since doing this show, I’ve found a new confidence in myself in relation to guys and dating.”

Resources:

American Heart Association – www.heart.org

Centers of Disease Control and Prevention – www.cdc.gov

Mayo Clinic – www.mayoclinic.org

National Weight Control Registry – www.nwcr.ws

Urban Health Plan – www.urbanhealthplan.org

Revenge Body with Khloe Kardashian – www.eonline.com

Marie Y. Lemelle, MBA, a public relations consultant, is the owner of Platinum Star PR and can be reached on Twitter @PlatinumStar or Instagram @PlatinumStarPR. Send “Health Matters” related questions to healthmatters@wavepublication.com and look for her column in The Wave.

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