What's different about the seven weight loss programs touted by New U Medical Weight Loss Clinic?
"They're successful!" says owner-founder-nutritionist Carol Phillips in her typical no-nonsense, definitive style.
Here are a few more differences. Phillips is 72 years old, in the business for 26 years. Neither she nor her five employees dash about in the skin-fitting leotards you see at many fitness emporiums.
New U, at 10407 Northcliffe Blvd., focuses on the teaching of life-changing choices with regard to eating and exercise. Its programs are founded on healthy, documented eating; doctor-approved individualized diets, and ongoing nurse oversight and consultation, with motorized exercise equipment to help clients gain flexibility, strength and endurance.
Each client first is weighed and measured on a computer-augmented scale, which prints out a usually eye-opening five-page body profile delineating total body fat, fat-free mass and total body water. It also provides a mortality percentage relative to one's weight and calculates calories required per day to maintain vital body functions.
A four- to six-day detox diet and blood tests come next. If medical concerns and prescription medications are involved, clients are forwarded to local physician John Batista. The internist makes dietary recommendations.
"Medically, from lab work, we decide what's best for (each client)," Phillips said.
The client sets his or her own weight goal. (Yes, men enroll, making up about 40 percent of New U's membership, which numbers about 500 during any month.)
A good portion of those aiming to slim down are recommended by their primary physicians.
Angela Kneip, 75, co-owner of the clinic with Phillips for 13 years who has studied counseling, oversees clients' diaries of daily food intake. She sets specific amounts for consumption of protein, vegetables, fruits, water and other beverages. Amounts and choices are adjusted on an individual basis, taking into account nutritional needs, physical activity and interaction with medications.
"We're making sure everyone is losing healthy," Kneip said.
Meanwhile, registered nurse Lynn McKinney provides medications, such as vitamins, monitors lab work, administers electrocardiograms and "deals with anything medical that comes up," she said.
Phillips preaches that optimal weight loss requires calorie-burning physical activity. The exercise machines aren't what clients encounter at a typical fitness center, but provide a variety of stretching and minimal-impact resistance exercises, plus massage.
As New U celebrated a grand opening recently at its expanded location in Northcliffe Plaza, Phillips noted the addition of 18 new Slender You machines, saying, "These are for people who can't go to a gym."
Phillips recommends clients visit two to three times a week, for weight and inch measurements, food diary review, menu adjustment and exercise.
On a recent morning, clients beamed about their accomplishments.
Said Donald LaBarge, 72, of Brooksville: "I lost 17 pounds and a lot of pants sizes (in five weeks). I can bend over and tie my shoes. I'm feeling better about myself."
Judy Strang, 73, of Spring Hill, said that in her first month at New U she lost 6 pounds and 5 inches.
"I eat anything I want, but I'm limiting portions and working the machines." As for the exercise, Strang added, "You don't even break a sweat."
Ann Buxton, who retired from owning a bridal shop in Citrus County, said she sent many mothers of brides to New U and found herself repeatedly downsizing their finery before weddings.
After attaining her weight goal 10 years ago, Buxton, 70, returned to deal with escalating weight brought on by a newly prescribed medication.
New U programs range from $30 a month upward. The price list includes discounted specials most months.
Beth Gray can be reached at email@example.com.