Friendly advice is helping colleagues get healthier

The hit show on NBC “The Biggest Loser” is creating a new spin on the phrase. As Americans try new ways to get healthy and lose excess pounds, Dr. Denise Edwards, in USF Health Pediatrics, is giving faculty and staff a fun way to become “big losers” too.

While many formal diet programs offer the framework, support and socializing we need to successfully lose weight, many times it’s the tips and success stories from friends and coworkers that really turn on our drive to finally make the right choices.

Denise Edwards, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics and internal medicine, is exactly that kind of resource.

Sure she’s an expert on diet and nutrition. Sure she runs the department’s Healthy Weight Clinic. And sure she’s a walking poster child for the healthy lifestyle cause. But she is also completely sincere in her willingness to help others see the benefits of good health, so much so that she is taking on a departmental cause, of sorts.

Like most workplaces, there are several people in the Department of Pediatrics who are trying to lose weight. So Dr. Edwards is sharing her knowledge with this group and helping her coworkers understand the day-to-day, easy-to-apply choices they can make to successfully lose weight. She is turning them on to a healthier lifestyle.

“There’s a lot of misinformation and confusing messages out there,” Dr. Edwards said.

“Just as I do with our patients, I try to clarify that information and help people apply it to their everyday lives with their families and in work situations.”

The effort started simply enough, with conversations in the hall and break room. But the quick chats have turned into slightly more formalized lunch-time gatherings a couple of times each month.

Pulling from her arsenal of health information, Dr. Edwards provides valuable tips, diet data, nutrition advice, and even recipes. She gently encourages increasing physical activity and doesn’t lecture or reproach when efforts are stalled or derailed.

In addition to her informal informational sessions, Dr. Edwards is part of a new Lunch N Learn Series called Healthy & Fit for Life to be held in November and December. Click here to learn more.

Perhaps her greatest fan in the group is Pediatrics Chairman Robert Nelson, MD, who has applied Dr. Edwards’ tips and successfully lost 25 pounds.

At Center: Dr. Robert Nelson, Chairman of USF Health Pediatrics, surrounded by his team.

“Her diet hints really struck a chord for me to make life-long changes,” Dr. Nelson said.

“And she helped my wife and me easily adapt healthy options to our routines and food preferences.”

Dr. Nelson said he found her ideas different than typical weight-loss programs because they were so flexible. In addition, being the methodical physician type, Dr. Nelson said he appreciated her organized approach to the ultimate goal of losing weight.

Although not quite at his goal of dropping 40 pounds, Dr. Nelson said that he can easily see it coming off in time.

“The goal is realistic and with Dr. Edwards’ gentle prodding and cheering, I know I can stay on track.”

Check out Dr. Edwards on iTunes U Whadda ya love? Let’s Make It Healthier

Story by Sarah Worth, USF Health Communications
Photography by Eric Younghans, USF Health Media Center